You have to go back a full six years for the last time the Jaguar Saloons and GT’s raced at Croft Circuit. But that 2017 season holds some happy memories. It was the debut season for Swallows Racing, and Croft produced Tom’s first podium finish. From our home in Somerset, it is nearly a 600-mile round trip to the circuit near Darlington but it is a journey well worth making to one of the most exciting circuits in the country.
With this being the first time Jack Robinson and Andrew Maynard had raced the circuit we took advantage of the official practice day on Friday to learn the track. Joining the team for the weekend was Jon Gill, Jon’s normal race car a Peugeot with a sequential box that competes in Thunder Saloons but is currently out of action. We offered Jon the chance of a drive in the ‘Naughty Forty’ our arrive and drive XJ40 Class D car. Practice went well on a warm sunny Friday, and it wasn’t long before each of our three cars were producing fast times. Motorsport technology moves at a pace, and working with our partners, AVO, Tarox, PVE, Yokohama and Pipercross it was all too evident at Croft how quickly things have move on. Jack produced a lap in practice a full six seconds faster than the Jaguar pole here six years previously.
Qualifying on Saturday afternoon on a damp but drying track, Jack left it very late in the XK8 to grab pole with less than one tenth covering the top three places, Colin Philpott’s XJS 4.0 second and Guy Connew’s XJS 5.3 V12 in third. Andrew qualified a strong eighth overall in the XJ40 and fourth in class, Jon thirteenth and second in class.
With two races on Sunday and a dry track the Jag’s lined up on the grid. Pole at Croft doesn’t offer a great advantage being on the ‘dirty’ side of the circuit. Colin used the gripper side of the track to launch his XJS and lead into the first corner, and a lead he manged to hold for the duration of the fifteen-minute race while behind Jack and Guy regularly swapped places. Eventually on the final lap Jack forced and error from Guy and pipped him to second place. Andrew produced an excellent drive in the XJ40 progressively getting quicker and matched the Jaguar 2017 pole lap on lap nine to finish sixth overall and second in class. Jon still getting used to driving a big Jag enjoyed a good class battle with Charles Jackson in his X300, but despite Jon getting fastest lap in class Charles held on by just two seconds for class D honours.
At the end of the day the Jag’s were out in the final race of the meeting, Colin Philpott led the way, and Jack was battling the more powerful class A and class B cars in his class C XK8 and conceding over 100 bhp. Guy’s superior straight-line speed giving him the edge on this occasion. The battle was joined by Andrew Harper’s S Type R and when Jack made a small error Harper was able to take advantage, nevertheless Jack continued to take the fight to the front three gaining through the more technical sections. When the chequered flag came down Jack was comfortably clear in fourth overall and with a second-class win and a maximum points weekend. Andrew had to fight off the attentions of Ieuan Spooner’s XJS to gain a second six overall and second in class for strong championship points. Jon thoroughly enjoyed his experience racing a Jag finishing ninth overall and second in class.
Jack maintained his narrow points lead in the Championship on 128 points ahead of Guy Connew 122 points and Andrew Harper 100 points. We look forward to our next rounds on 16th/17th September at Snetterton.
Success never comes without a huge amount of help we would again like to thank our partners, sponsors, family, and friends who contributed to such a successful weekend at Croft and the season so far, not least; Vision Techniques, AVO, PVE, Tarox, Amitec, Jaguar Enthusiasts Club (JEC TrackSport), Meguiar’s, Naked Signs and Pipercross.