From The Pitlane.

If you have a wristband.


Last race of the year, and the end of our self-imposed exile. The year off has not repaired the financial damage to the level we might have hoped, but it’s sure as hell better than if we’d tried to race. Somehow just coming to these events seems to cost money. That and the fact that we keep forgetting we built another race-winning car this year, for reasons we still can’t quite recall. Anyway, end of the year, and there are a few loose ends to tie up.
















































Two championships are already sorted. Stew has won the V12s again, despite not racing this year – see Doris for an explanation how she let THAT happen! – and Gail has already won both class and saloon title. Every other championship can, however, still be won by several drivers.


Palmer was favourite, but he’d still have to drive for it, Ramm has picked his game up a lot recently, car working and driver gelling with it nicely. Palmer’s lead over Lil is something like 5 points going into this round, and that can be erased in a single 2nd placed finish if she wins her own category.


Philip Comer is 4 behind Gail, a single DNF from Palmer will hand Philip the XJS title as well as his class F title.














































More complex still is the fact that both Stewert Lydall and Roger Webster can also mathematically take the overall title, there are enough points on offer that their scrap for 3rd overall in the XJS could be for the win. For that to happen both Palmer and Comer would need a couple of DNFs, but should Gail be in the same hypothetical day 1 carnage they could win the overall joint “Jaguar” championship that we don’t agree even exists.
















































In the various classes then F still has to be decided, Comer is 25 points clear of Drage and needing therefore only 7 to tie that up. Put into perspective, assuming he finishes the race on day 1 then he needs only come 6th in class, and as there are only 4 class F cars out there that means he can come dead last.
















































Class E belongs to Chris Palmer, only a tiny handful of points will secure that for him beyond anything Webster can do this weekend, day 1 ought to see that done.

For the saloons class A is still to be sorted, very tight between Askham and Woods, the latter having missed half the year but so successful when he did appear that he’s still in line to take that crown with a perfect double-header. Not easy at this power track against a very swift X300.


Kutuka fielded three cars, the Kutuka hero car of Stewert “Lezzer” Lyddall, Philip Comer in the Kutuka-reworked class F XJS., and joining the fray would be the Kutuka-modified Lister XJ40 of Matt Jefferys.















































To add to the chaos, Lyddall contested a 2-driver 40 minute race with Formula Ford star Brice, whilst Jefferys would be playing in the Powered By Jaguar as well, the two extra races being helpfully spaced just right to ensure that no-one gets to sit down all damned day.


Only Comer, sensibly fixated on the JEC titles, would do the smart thing and race only the XJS events.
















































Arriving on the Friday evening, fully prepared and everything ready, we find much to be done. Eleanor needs front pads and tyres, Jefferys needs front pads and tyres, all the rubber having had a week on the Kutuka saloon on the road desperately trying to wipe the newness off them. The fuel economy on a 4 litre X300 given death on the roads is about what you get out of a V12 XJS round town…


We expected to swap the rubber, that’s planned, but it transpires that the Bear’s idea of inspecting pads stops at the first one, and if you get a dodgy calliper that isn’t eating the outer pad at the same rate as the inner, a casual look will show the brakes to be perfectly fine despite the other three pads being really quite thin.
















































Barbeques are compulsory at race weekends, so despite the bitter cold, nothing is going to stop us burning sausages… The smell of charcoaled pork as you wrestle four sets of brake pads in and out by torchlight spurs you to work faster.


Saturday dawned early, and the two driver Future Classics was far too Present Banger. Eleanor, now very much in decline, proved troublesome for the Lyddall/Brice partnership, her qualifying a popping grumble of misfiring V12 throughout. Leaking water from a series of holes in her radiator, leaving puddles of oil anywhere she sat stationary for more than ten seconds, and refusing to accept her own petrol, this was a car more reminiscent of a wounded dragon limping into one final battle, trailing steam and precious fluids but ready for one last stand.















































A practice driver swap showed that we’ve lost none of our skills at posting a new pilot into Eleanor in a real hurry, there is something uncomfortable about rummaging around in a stranger’s vegetable garden to do up his belts, but needs must in the name of speed.


The old girl eventually cleared her throat long enough to show the single seater pilot how a big old Jag behaves, and it’s never anything like they first fear, she might be leaking her lifeblood onto the tarmac, but there’s still some fight left in her yet.
















































So to the XJS qualifying, and what’s apparent is that the place, despite the changes, remains a power track. They might have ruined Coram, and Sear might now have a hairpin in it, but this place is still all about how fast you can go and how quickly you can get there.


Katrina, sporting a new upgrade from the northern wastes, was happy to collect points this weekend, the class F title within easy reach, and nothing radical planned. Her pilot, however, turned out to be rather poor at obeying orders, his race would test our nerves.













































Qualifying, however, was poor for him, the car looked quick enough coming by, it sounded good, but the laptime wasn’t there. It seemed quite apparent that he was losing a bundle of time at the new turn 2 and 3 complex, but without having driven it, and with no actual complaints of ill behaviour it was impossible to diagnose why. At the same time, it didn’t matter why, 3rd in class was still a point nearer, only 6 more needed, which equates to finishing 7th in a class of 4 cars. Just finish the damned race.
















































Stew looked quick, Baby Doyle looked quicker. Gail sounded the fastest of the saloons, but there was a cacophony of XJ6s, including at least 2 new ones, who were utterly indistinguishable from each other, plus more XJ40s than I’m used to seeing, with only the rasp and snarl of the Lister setting itself apart as it swallowed petrol and engine oil in roughly equal measures to throw lumps of used rubber at us as it flew by.


As Bear muttered, we have created a monster. We may need to slip some form of sedative into the boy wonder’s drink though, take the edge off teenage aggression and smooth out the wild control inputs. I’m thinking some sort of electric shock to the genitals, hooked up to a g-meter. Sideways is not fast. His result was good, but it could have been better.













































Laptimes confirmed that Stew was not to compete with the big guns of the two potent machines ahead, Doyle’s Davis/Spike hybrid appeared to have enough torque to sit stationary and rotate the track beneath it, whilst the invitation class saloon was so clearly ahead of the pack in all measurable ways that there was not even the slightest chance of an upset at the front.


For the vaguely interested observer it was Ramm v Palmer which was critical, and then Gail v West Riding. Tradition suggests that Rich Dorlin will be the one to mug her in the race, and today, if she wants to win, that can’t happen. Palmer v Ramm is less critical, Chris can afford to drop a few points, but not too many, which is fortunate as he doesn’t tend to qualify all that well sometimes.















































A smaller, private battle pitches Webster against Lyddall for 3rd in the XJS championship, Lyddall’s 2nd in class quali edges the Beard’s 3rd, the points squeak tighter in their discrete scrap.


Eleanor gets some urgent attention to the fuel system, and the radiator, she’s now going out with the core full of araldite plugs and a prayer, the radiator is wholly scrap. It’s the emergency spare we gave him a while back, came out of the most rotten V12 we’d ever seen, and it hasn’t aged well because it’s been in service for a year. There isn’t a spare because this is it. She was taking water at such a rate that a 40 minute race simply seemed impossible without remedial attention, this car is in a state.


A wandering Gage, a self-confessed hubcap polisher, took one look at the brown-spattered steam-filthed engine bay of the externally-shiny car and isn’t the first to express his sadness and disappointment that the cosmetics clearly don’t reflect on the mechanical parts. For a man so keen on cleaning his car, there does remain a question over Stewert’s apparent disinterest in the pieces beneath the skin.















































Powered By quali occurs as we think about breakfast, and the spiky-haired child manages to drive more slowly in his quest for more speed, to us a clear indication of overdriving the car. It’s now quite swift, just let it do its thing, don’t wrestle it.

Before you can say “Three Pitstopper Breakfasts, one with no beans” it’s race time. The Lez will take the start as he’s fatter than the single seater pilot, and early progress is good. She can’t really compete with the front end of this grid, big V8 Astons dominate this race, but she’s doing quite respectfully despite the surprise of an old Astra that drives straight past her on the pit straight. We didn’t really see that coming.


Safety car for the Mark 1 Jag that spat a rod through the sump, and soon we’re into the pitstop window. Another incredibly fast driver change gains us a lot, 45 seconds from pit entry to exit with a new pilot at the wheel is swift by any standards. There are other cars who seem to think that you stop for a cuppa and a briefing, very odd.
















































Our single seater hero finds Eleanor as a race car to be a fun piece of kit, and he’s threatening Stew’s laptime, until he finds the R1R cliff in the final stages of the race, and grasstracks just long enough to let Coppock senior close in and kill him in the last mile of the race. A good race nonetheless, always entertaining to throw a new victim into the mad bad world of Jaguar racing. We need to get more people to do just this.


To the XJS race then, and it’s meant to be all about the points for one car, and all about power for the other two. Stewert has to see what Eleanor can do against the more powerful Doyle, but Palmer and Ramm may well be a problem too. And at the front is the incomparable XJ12 touring car of Howard, no-one will touch that today.


Jefferys has more power than ever before, so we’ll see what he gets up to, whilst Comer I want to see come dead last, because that’s enough. He didn’t listen though.











































Lights out and off it goes. Howard into the lead which didn’t look under threat from turn 1 to the flag, it simply eased into the distance without drama. The four astern have a right old scrap until they settle it out, Doyle passes Lyddall, all understeer from those front T1Rs, but comfortably faster in the straights, and that understeer looks predictable, safe even. I almost wonder if this is deliberate.


Jefferys appears almost last. Morrant’s gearknob went AWOL and there was a traffic jam at the start, he has a recovery drive ahead of him. Comer on the other hand picked his way through with customary aplomb, and went up the inside of Drage, who started 3 rows ahead, into turn 1. Seems to have overcooked it though, because he comes into sight at Coram dead last by about five seconds. I heave a huge sigh of relief and pray he stays there.
















































As the fast four try to kill each other, Palmer and Ramm changing places, it seems initially that Ramm is going to beat Palmer, even as Gail holds off Dorlin, and that puts the overall fictional Jaguar championship right in the mix, almost level points.


Eventually though Palmer passes Ramm, and Dorlin passes Gail, the points tip the other way, and that’s it nearly over, Palmer could at that tour in dead last tomorrow. Not that he seemed to understand that concept, his driving as combative as if it were race 1 of the season.


Jefferys is passing slower cars with ease, simply inhaling the gap down the straights, but there was one opportunistic move that took him past two cars into whatever they now call Russell which did make me wonder if his brakes were working.


















































Comer, head down and charging, also makes short work of a surprising number of cars, indeed he passes the ex-Loz Ball car, a machine that used to make my old steed Angelina look like an asthmatic donkey, in a straight drag race. A few laps later he does the same trick to Seath, whose car handily out-powered even Helen here at the end of 2009. I would not have expected that, so either he was getting a great corner exit by comparison, or the upgrades had actually done the trick. Perhaps a little of both.


There are plumes of dust going up all around the track. Despite the recent weather Snett’s sandy soil must have drained well, because there are great roosters of the stuff going up at every corner, including some we can’t even see, as the end-of-term mentality takes hold. An ever-wilder Askham finally takes Frost off at whatever it is they now call Russell, throwing his rear bumper onto the pit straight for an added challenge, which was only a matter of time, his car seems to have been specifically engineered to throw the scenery into the air. I do wonder if we could fit it with one of those giant flymo attachments you see on council tractors.
















































As the flag drops Stew has managed a pretty creditable third. The car just needs to survive a further twenty minutes. In a way it would almost be fitting if the old stager were to monumentally blow the engine in the last race, but she’s a bit stubborn for that.

Against the odds, Philip has fought back to second in class. Not bad going at all from dead last by a lot. He seals the class F championship then with some style, and it’s time to break out the cheap champagne I smuggled in secret.


Baby Jefferys, all oversteer and screaming rubber, powers back through the field to finish roughly where he started, the car’s sheer poke dragging it back up the order despite what looks like, to us, a pretty dodgy line at the last corner. It will be interesting to see what he can do with it tomorrow from there. It does seem to have taken something of a jump in capability.















































It’s a strange aftermath to the race. There is an odd tension, mostly surrounding the Seath/Dorlin incident, that beautiful XJ6 bearing the acid green flash of an XJS assault, but there is more to it than that, the Askham car needs about three panels, Connew has damage, and half the field has been off the road. There is therefore a strange mix of levity from those who have had a great time and got away with it all, and the bad temper of those who haven’t.


Day 2 and it’s really all over now bar the shouting, Palmer can take a risk-free run to the flag, Lil has an almost impossible task, Comer is out of the running overall, it’s one or the other and Chris has a huge lead.


We have Philip much closer to Drage on the startline today, one of his rocket launches and that’ll be a real giggle to watch. Baby Jefferys too, a decent grid slot, and the power to hunt a lot of the cars ahead. Bear looks nervous though, that part of the grid is where it starts to get a bit serious, playing with the faster cars with some hard drivers, he’s got money on the Lister coming back in with some work needed.














































At the front it was again the XJ12 that simply picked up and went, no-one got near it all race. A tight scrap between Doyle and Lyddall didn’t last long, Doyle found his feet and went, but what was a large gap initially faded in the closing stages, whether the driver lost his rhythm or simply managed the gap home to the win we don’t know. The Doyle clan are a more thoughtful bunch of planners in the race, but whether that has yet been beaten into the youngster we wait to find out.

Comer appears in front of Drage immediately, popped him off the start as expected, but a lap later and that green Dyno Rod car is looking less Slikcat and more Lamekitten, it retires on the following tour sounding like a steam engine with a disappointing future. Comer finishes the season as he started it, with a convincing class F win. Job done.
















































El Jeffe has another interesting afternoon watching other people’s accidents and throwing sand into the sky, another shocking opening lap puts him into the claws of the cars he scrapped with yesterday, and a nudge of Connew’s waving rear end at the chicane gives us the minor damage we sort of expected to happen, but once again he powers through the chaos. Battle with Phil Woods however throws a curve ball, Matt powers by, but Phil is far faster at the end of Coram, and takes avoiding action to miss the rear of the Lister, his subsequent grass tracking dropping places to his title rival Askham and handing him the class A title only a lap from the flag. It’s not over til it’s over, apparently.

















































That’s it, 2011 is over. Team Kutuka fielded Lyddall’s V12 and won the class G title for the 4th successive year. The Comer car we worked so hard on won him the class F title for the first time, which means the team can take credit for that championship too, for the 4th successive year. We built a brand new class E car, which took a perfect set of results including a race win in the two rounds it contested. And we reworked the Jefferys XJ40, which has shown a sea change in its results and expectations, moving from also-ran to real contender.


We’re calling time on the 2011 season then, but you just wait for 2012, we’re back baby! All of us…  



Last-race fiddling takes place at Kutuka North.


Look at the arse on that. Also in shot, a Jaguar.


A desperate attempt to get some warmth through the new rubber led to a wonderful commute.


If you've changed something on a race car, and you're not testing, where do you try it out?


Mr Future Classics scrutineer made Stew remove the ridiculous wing from Eleanor. He was not happy.


The posed publicity shot that Stew would prefer that we show as the official face of Kutuka....


...and the actual truth. Daft tart forgot his race suit and had to borrow Roger Webster's. For those who don't know, that's Roger on the left. Can you spot the problem?


XJS qualifying. We'd rather Philip not go out there at all, but he seems to think that racing the car is somehow appropriate? Weird.


Chris Palmer, champion-in-waiting.


Someone here in assembly is about to take my number 1 off me.


At least he looks happy about it though.


It's only when you see these group shots that it really strikes you just what an enormous man the Bearded One really is.


Lined up for race 1....


This might be race 2, because Lil is missing a headlight surround, but who's keeping track really?


Once again the blue behemoth is rather surprisingly higher up the grid than most are used to seeing.


Might be race 2 again, because that damage to the nose is race 1's.


Shut it, if you want the pictures in order you come here and do it.


Compulsory bonnet shot.


Eagle eyes will see Ray Ingham giving Mr Comer a completely inappropriate talking to, just before he goes out to race for his class championship. Real classy.


The Bearded Giant scans the timesheets, to see if he gained any extra points for his chinwear.


No. But he does win Kutuka's Beard of the Year for the fifth consecutive season. Well done that man.


Newly-crowned class F champion Comer slurps cheap champagne from a plastic flute.


It's exactly like Formula 1.


Andrew Jefferys in the background, stealing again.





I think I'm going to be sick.




Derek and Terry enjoy the sunset together.


Seriously, what is going on? Does anyone truly understand the Sports Jaguar Saloon Powered By races at all?


It does seem a bit like overkill, we only needed to crack a walnut.


A little routine maintenance might see us get home faster.


V12s at the front at Snetterton. What a shocker.


Howard, Doyle and Lyddall show the way.


There is a certain something about a full grid of these big berthas.


It was, oddly, one of the most difficult races to sit out, this assembly area is somehow more evocative.


2011 is over. Katrina lives.


Class champion. Who'd have thought that when we loaded her up in January!

There is probably a clever way of editing pictures together into a seamless panorama, but I don't know what it is, so shut up.


Eleanor wins the V12 championship for the 4th year in a row.


Racing drivers of the future lurk in the foreground?

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Jaguar XJS Racing

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