Round One - 'Equipe' GTS at MGCC Donington April 4th . .

With Donington aiming to host the British Grand Prix once again, another full grid, plus reserves, of cars from the popular series arrived to take their final opportunity to race on the circuit in its current format before the bulldozers arrive. Hosts on a sunny spring morning were the MGCC who provided their usual hospitality and a warm welcome. 

Rod Begbie set the pace in qualifying with his TVR Grantura heading the grid from three MGBs of Brian Lambert, James Cottingham and Tom Smith, with two more Grantura's of Mark Ashworth and Malcolm Johnson taking row three.  However, as the race started it was Cottingham who led the pack into the first corner and pulled out a fair lead by lap three as the trio of TVR's squabbled for second. Some onlookers described the thirty minute race as the best ever, as all through the busy field cars diced for position. There were some excellent drives - in particular Rob Cull's TVR and Mark Hoble's freshly restored Morgan Plus 4 were highly entertaining . Brian Arculus for this year has swapped his trusty Triumph TR3 for one of the well known (to 'Equipe' GTS) WSM special-bodied cars, and despite an engine oil leak creating smoke from the hot exhaust, he got to grips with the MG Midget version to lead class 2. It was good to see debutants Michael Ashley-Brown and Nick Atkins in Lotus Elite's going well, but the unfortunate Clive Cocks dropped out with one lap to go in his WSM Sprite with half shaft failure. By half distance Malcolm Johnson had secured second position and set about catching the leader which he managed only a few laps before the finish. He made fastest lap of the race and took the lead on occasion but was unable to hold off Cottingham at the chequered flag by less than one second.  Tom Smith made his own late challenge to take third from the Mark Ashworth and Rob Begbie TVR's.Mark Ellis was desperately unlucky when his MGA twin cam was reluctant to start in the assembly area, the 1600cc class 3 win going to Simon Gurney's MGA Sebring from Keith Hampson's ex-two times Le Mans 24 hour Sunbeam Alpine. Brian Arculus, and John Andon in his Triumph TR4 were winners of class 2 and 4. The series resumes with rounds 2 and 3 at Anglesey in two weeks time.

Report from our Essex correspondant - pictures courtesy of Paul Webb

'Equipe' GTS - rounds 2 and 3 at Anglesey 18th/19th April