The races have been coming thick and fast for the Swallows team. Our ‘home’ track of Castle Combe was first up for 10th/11th June weekend and only an hour from base. As we have all season, we were running four cars, Jack in the XK8, mended after the ‘off’ at Brands Hatch and the trio of XJ40’s with Andrew Maynard, Damian Gray and Joe Osborne driving.
Castle Combe was hot, very hot, but we were fortunate to have shade from the race truck to keep the cars and drivers cool. With the benefit of our own grid for these rounds and plenty of track space for qualifying Jack managed 5th overall on the grid (2nd in class). Damian had a strong qualifying performance (10th), Andrew (13th) and Joe (14th).
Jack made a strong start in the XK8, moving up to 4th before inheriting 3rd from Mike Seaborne also in an XK8 when he suffered electrical failure (DNF). Holding off a fast-charging Andrew Harper in the AutoReserve S-Type R, Jack secured maximum points with 3rd overall and 1st in class. Damian possibly had his best performance to date moving through to finish 7th overall and 3rd in class. Andrew suffered problems with a sticking throttle but nevertheless managed to bring the car home in 12th marginally ahead of novice driver Joe.
In a season in which no single car or driver has dominated the Swallows Racing, XK8 has perhaps been the most consistent and reliable performer. In race two the status quo appeared to be the likely outcome until rain intervened two thirds into the race shaking up the order. Jack gained and lost through this period mainly to those running Yokohama tyres which are superior in wet conditions but managed to repeat the first race outcome with 3rd overall and 1st in class. Andrew, finding the wet conditions to his liking moved through the field to gain 8th overall, 4th in class with Damian close behind, Joe improving to 12th and 2nd in class. Having collected the maximum points at Castle Combe this moved Jack into the Championship lead after six rounds.
Onto Brands Hatch, with barely time to draw breath and fettle the cars we were heading East again for the second on two weekends at Brand Hatch as part of the Super Touring Car Festival with four races and two qualifying sessions on offer on 1st/2nd July.
Qualifying on a damp but drying GP circuit with a mixed grid of 41 car getting a clear run was tricky, it proved to be a challenge and Jack only ever got a semi clear lap managing to qualify 7th of the Jags, Damian and Andrew were out again in the XJ40’s along with Steve from PVE in the XKR for his first outing this season. Damian and Andrew were 9th & 11th, Steve a bit rusty from the lay off 14th overall.
A super quick start from Jack elevated him quickly through the pack and for much of the race he held second place and only ultimately missing out to Andrew Harper’s more powerful S-Type R by just seven tenths of a second but claiming another class victory and adding to the points total. Damian, racing on the GP circuit for the first time had a storming drive to claim a superb 5th overall and 3rd in class. Steve began to settle back into the XKR moved up to 8th very closely followed by Andrew in 9th, and 4th in class.
With a brief break our second Berkshire Jag Components Jaguar Challenge was under way with a rolling start, once again Jack found himself battling Andrew Harper until his S-Type R came to a halt a Druids with an electrical failure. Pushing on Jack couldn’t match the pace of the two more powerful XJS’s in front but collected a comfortable 3rd overall and 1st in class result. Damian again finding the GP circuit to his liking claimed his best result to date finishing 4th and 2nd in class. Steve gained a place having sorted a brake issue and finishing 2nd in class with Andrew close behind in 10th.
Day dawned with blue skies and big crowds lining the banking for feast of Sunday historic touring car action. With a change of layout to the much shorter Indy circuit qualifying got underway, again getting ‘clear air’ proved difficult. Jack got to fourth on the timing screens before having to come in with a fractured alternator bracket, a standard Jaguar cast aluminum part. Damian’s strong weekend continued, qualifying 7th ahead of Steve 10th and Andrew 11th.
Despite a valiant effort by the team, we were not able to get Jack out in time for race three. Damian’s good weekend also ended with a DNF after a trip to the gravel, Andrew and Steve were left to carry the flag, both managing to hold their starting positions.
Repairs completed in time for race four Jack had to start from the back of the grid. Quickly making up places he fought his way up to 6th before finding it difficult to pass Rick Walker’s XJS until the penultimate lap making the pass into Druids and completing it before Graham Hill bend. An excellent 5th overall and 2nd in class was enough to keep Jack at the top of the Championship leader board by ten points. A close fought battle between our two XJ40 boys saw Damian coming out on top by just a second from Andrew in 9th & 10th, Steve retiring the XKR on the first lap.
Two excellent weekends of racing have put the Swallows Racing XK8 and Jack into strong position despite the car’s first mechanical failure of the season. Onwards to the long haul to Croft on 12th/13th August.
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 Brands Hatch and the season so far, not least; Vision Techniques, AVO, PVE, Tarox, Amitec, Jaguar Enthusiasts Club (JEC TrackSport), Meguiar’s, Naked Signs and Pipercross