The late great Mohamed Ali took plenty of punches during his career and today saw the fearsome foursome of Chris, Keith, Richard, and Tim roll with the punches. After two days of trouble free racing across Italy they were starting to feel invincible. How wrong could they be as everything started to untangle. Breaking news last night saw the GT40 attract a 10 minute penalty. Richard retired to bed in the belief he’d been robed of a certain podium position. By morning he was back in a firm 2nd place with the time penalties dropped, it was an administrative error. The day started with a race at the fabulous Mugello circuit. Overall Pro driver Jag was top of the leader board with the GT40 second, Freeman Cobra third and the famous CUT7 Jaguar fourth. Richard following on from his earlier win and second place confirmed his status as Italian track god with another win in very wet and slippery conditions. Chris lost 15 seconds on his overnight position to the seventh place Porsche 911. After that a character building day ensued for all.three.
First to depart was the GT40 and a small navigational error required a super human performance to get to the special stage on time, he made it just, although it probably took years off Tim’s life. The stage itself was unsuitable for the GT40 and that was reflected in most of the advantage gained in the Mugello race being eroded. Chris and Keith meanwhile, seeing Mark Freeman delayed on leaving the lunch halt with a suspected broken fuel pump and Richard likely incurring penalties for at late arrival at the special stage where thinking they were edging up to second overall.
A stunning performance on the stage only 2 tenths behind the class leading pro jag suddenly put them in the pound seats as far as an overall result was concerned. The next special stage followed sufficiently afterward that Richard and Tim didn’t even take off their crash helmets and hence arrived in an even more sweaty and distressed state than usual. The second stage was equally unsuited to the GT40 wand despite heroics at the wheel further time was lost. For Chris and Keith things only got worse from the euphoria of feeling that second place was now easily in their grasp and only victory was one place away. dreams were shattered when the prop shaft exploded and surely this was the end of the event for this dynamic combination in historic motor sport. Freeman having lost his certain podium position to the E type only minutes before, on seeing the car then stranded on the next special stage commented: “what the lord giveth, the lord taketh away”.
Suddenly text messages regarding successful stage times were replaced with how to get a recovery truck to take us home. Richard and Tim meanwhile set about completing the final stage of the day but clouds of smoke from the back of the GT40 were proving ominous. The car was now running on 6 out of 8 cylinders and with a massive power deficit further time was dropped. Limping into the road section they finally made it to their service crew who set about the problem. The problem was with the carburetor, the “float” having sprung a leak and “sunk”. Huge time was lost resulting in time penalties when the crews finally made it into Forte dei Marmi on the west coat of Italy.
So far so bad bit now was the time of the unsung heroes of the Modena Cento Ore to spring into action. Ace Wren sport engineers Darren and Sam and set about major surgery on both cars With Chris and Keith’s Jaguar arriving by trailer and whilst the overall result probably precludes victory, we are still in the race before we roll into Modena hopefully on Saturday afternoon. Despite their fuel pump problem Freeman and Ellis are still very much in the event, but another unsung hero is Dorothy Freeman and her mate Gerry in her red Triumph TR3 in the regularity section of the event. Having never been out of the podium position of the ladies section of their class .
It is now way past bed time on the eve of the final day hence the brevity of this message. we will be back with a full update of the ups and downs and a reflection of the week we have spent in Italy on Saturday evening.