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Battle of Bosworth

When you arrive at the beautifully scenic Mallory Park and drive through the grand wrought iron gates you are greeted by a giant Jaguar Leaper, underneath are listed the dates of the seven Le Mans triumphs and three World Championships and you are left in no doubt of Jaguar’s supreme racing heritage. Fitting then that this should be the venue for the last rounds of this season’s championship.

Qualifying

The forecast of rain for Saturday proved to be one hundred percent accurate and in very tricky conditions, qualifying got underway. It’s fair to say that the XJR is not at its best when it is very slippery, it tends to nullify the power of the supercharger. None the less Tom’s lap times were coming down progressively until the session was cut short after Ian Drage unfortunately lost grip and ended up in a tyre wall. Declaring himself to be reasonably satisfied with his efforts Tom grabbed P6 on lap seven of only eight that were completed before the session was flagged.

Race One

The race was the last of the day and unsurprisingly the weather had caused a number of delays so it was important to get away without incident. From a relatively rare standing start James Ramm got some great momentum from the second row and swiftly moved into the lead. Unfortunately, Patrick Doyle’s V12 XJS stalled at the start – but miraculously was avoided by all cars behind!

Rodney Frost (Class B XJS) also got away well from pole as did Guy Connew (Class C XJ6). A race long battle started with the pair chasing Ramm. This battle was to see Frost and Connew separated by only a bumper – or sometimes even a coat of paint for the entire race – Connew trying everything to get past, but ultimately Frost retained second with Connew less than 2 secs behind in 3rd. Connew and Frost winning the respective Driver of the Day awards. It was also close for 4th with Colin Philpot’s Class D XJS finishing just a couple of seconds ahead of Alasdair McGregors Class B X300.

Further down the field – the two Doyles were struggling in the slippery conditions to fully apply the power from the V12’s. In the Class A battle there were a few changes of position – sometimes following a few unintentional changes in direction – but Simon Dunford once again won the class so continuing a very consistent season. Paul Merrett came in second closely followed by Kevin Dickens. It was a good, clean race that won praise from the stewards despite the poor conditions.

Race Two

Only a stone’s throw from Mallory lies Bosworth field where in 1485 Henry Tudor defeated king Richard III at the battle of Bosworth to end to the War of the Roses. In bright autumn sunshine the carnage that ensued on the approach to Gerard’s was therefore not out of place.

Guy Connew in the XJ6 had pole from being selected in the top six ball drop and had James Ramm for company on the front row with Colin Philpott and Rodney Frost on row two. Tom started from P9 based on lap times from race one. The cavalry charge on the short run from the start line to Gerard’s had Alasdair McGregor, Guy Connew, Rodney Frost, and Colin Philpott four abreast and fighting for second place after James Ramm had made a clean get away to take the lead.

On this narrow circuit four into one won’t really fit and a collision involving McGregor, Connew and Frost unfortunately led to retirement for Frost and McGregor after their attempts to solider on with their wounded cars failed. Connew however managed to carry on despite losing most of his nearside wing for the second time this season. All the drama unfolded immediately in front of Tom and he emerged skilfully through the smoke and debris of the battle unscathed in fifth place behind Michael Holt’s X300. Tom was then able to pass Holt on lap two and move up to fourth and now chase Connew who was third. At the front Philpott was closing on champion elect, Ramm. Lap five and Tom was within half a second of Connew and Philpott four tenths off Ramm. On lap six Philpott made his move passing Ramm and he managed to make it stick.

Connew was managing to carry a lot of speed around the long Gerard’s bend preventing Tom from making any real inroads into the gap apart from when lapping backmarkers. Meanwhile Philpott was having a strong drive and kept Ramm at bay until the chequered flag came down on lap twenty-two. Tom had to settle for fourth place overall but collected the trophy for third in class D. ‘The king is dead long live the king’, James Ramm was crowned deservedly as the 2018 champion.

Relived that the XJR had come through a difficult weekend undamaged Tom was able to reflect on a second season of strong progress where he has become established in the championship as a regular podium contender with an ever-improving car, which is also great testament to the team Swallows Racing crew.

We look forward to the championship returning in the spring in the meantime we hope to see friends old and new at the JEC track day at Castle Combe on 22nd October and the Birkett relay race at Silverstone on 27th October. The Birkett is a team six-hour relay in which Tom will be competing for the first time with a team of fellow drivers and friends from the JEC series. We hope to see you there.