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JEC Saloon & GT Donington 15th - 16th September 2018

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As we head towards the end of the season, Donington is one the most popular circuits on the calendar and played host to a JEC racing triple header. Donington for the JEC racers has also become about ‘Cars & Curry’ and the annual Saturday night pilgrimage to the Gandhi in downtown Donni, after all the money we have spent there perhaps they would like to sponsor us, ‘Powered by Balti’!

Adam elected to retire his car for the remainder of the season after the difficulties encountered at Thruxton and will be back with a fitter, faster and stronger car next year and with aim of having both cars regularly on the podium. With a busy week at Swallows HQ Tom was unable to bring the XJR for practice on Thursday and so dived headlong into qualifying with some untested upgrades.


A bright and breezy Saturday morning made for a dry track and perfect conditions. Despite only completing four qualifying laps, after shredding the supercharger drive belt and being in traffic Tom managed an excellent P3, with James Ramm on pole and Colin Philpott P2.

Thanks to Colin porter for race report and Photos

Race 1:

Tom got off the line smartly and was sniffing the lead before the nose of the XJR collected a minor battle scar from the rear end of James Ramm’s XJS and had to settle into third behind Ramm and Philpott in what is becoming a familiar pattern, they were being pursued by Kevin Doyle on his first outing for some time in the XJ6 followed by Guy Connew. The positions remained the same until lap four when Patrick Doyle joined the fray by passing Connew, Tom now being chased by father and son.

Lap six saw Tom receive a black & white flag and a five second time penalty for exceeding track limits, mistaking this for a black flag Tom lifted allowing Doyle senior through into third and Doyle junior to close and eventually pass before then end of the lap. On lap eight the Doyle’s swapped places and Tom was again on the tail of senior. Lap eleven Tom passed Doyle to regain fourth and set about chasing Doyle junior. On lap thirteen Philpott started having gearbox issues and was passed by Doyle on lap fourteen and with Tom closing and passing on the final lap. The chequered flag dropped with Ramm the comfortable winner from Doyle junior and Tom third. Celebrations of another podium for team Swallows however was short lived when Tom was disqualified for having passed Doyle on lap eleven under a yellow flag which he failed to see due to being unsighted by Doyle’s car.

On reflection given recent successes it’s easy to forget that this is still only Tom’s second season and still on a massive learning curve, if anything can be taken from the day’s disappointment it’s the learning experiences from this race.

Race 2:

Having been disqualified from race one on Saturday it meant starting from the back of a twenty-three-car grid for race two on Sunday. Tom also had to contend with the addition of an unfamiliar Melbourne loop which extends the national circuit to create the GP circuit, re-joining at Goddard’s before the Wheatcroft start/finish straight. Drivers were however given the opportunity of three familiarisation laps behind the safety car before the race. If this wasn’t enough for Tom to contend with a sharp shower twenty minutes prior to the start greased the track making for tricky overtaking conditions. In what was a confusing start to the race with a lack of lights and a late green flag, we got underway with pole sitter Guy Connew leading through Redgate followed by the Doyle’s and Colin Philpott. Having been caught out by the start Tom was only in twenty second place at the end of the first lap and struggling to find anything like dry tarmac to use the power of the XJR to get past. Lap two saw Connew back in the pits in what was a troublesome weekend for him and Kevin Doyle assuming the lead briefly before being passed by Philpott and McGregegor. In the meantime, Tom was cautiously making his way through the field and by lap five was up to fourteenth. At the front Ramm had passed the Doyle’s and McGregor and was hunting down Philpott. On lap seven Ramm passed Philpott to take the lead, before Patrick Doyle ended up in the gravel which prompted the stewards to bring out the chequered flag and end the race prematurely. A pragmatic drive by Tom got him half way up the field without incident to eleventh place and rewarded with drive of the day.

Race 3:

With grid positions determined by lap times from the previous race Tom was delighted to find himself on the third row in P6. A flying start using the might of the XJR’s supercharger saw Tom up to third at the end of the Wheatcroft straight but was caught by the front of McGregor’s X300 as they turned into Redgate, leaving a sizeable dent in the rear wing and the bumper hanging off the nearside. Undeterred Tom powered on taking the fight to Philpott who was second with Ramm in his familiar lead position. Lap three and the straight-line speed of the XJR allowed Tom to catch and pass Philpott who now also had Patrick Doyle to worry about. Doyle who appeared to be on mission was too hot for the Powerbell man and passed him on lap five and set about closing on Tom and picked him off too on lap six. This set up a titanic battle between Philpott and Tom for third place, Philpott was using all of his experience and the excellent handling XJS to keep Tom under pressure and making a number of courageous overtaking attempts first at Craner curves and then the most daring attempt at the Melbourne hairpin and then at Goddards. This continued until the final lap when Tom managed to get a tiny bit of breathing space. Ramm appeared to have the hat-trick in the bag until a sheared wishbone on his XJS which caused the nearside rear tyre to rub on the wheel arch and forced him out on the last lap handing the win to the very quick Doyle junior with Tom second and Philpott third, Tom also collecting a deserved second drive of the day trophy. A very satisfying end to a dramatic weekend of highs and lows, lessons learnt.

The action moves on for the JEC curtain closer at Mallory Park on 6th & 7th October, come and join us, we would love to see you there.