The first of the two St Mary’s Trophy races provided another unforgettable spectacle, as the touring car drivers took their turn.
It was a field dominated by the Lotus Cortinas, which held four of the top five places after qualifying – and also last, after Andrew Jordan’s disqualification on Friday. The interloper was the Studebaker Lark, driven by Matt Neal and starting in second.
At the flag, Rob Huff in the Wolfe Cortina jumped the start. The stewards would hand him a ten-second penalty for this, but it didn’t affect the racing, as the swarm of Cortinas would carry their momentum through the corners and the monstrous Studebaker fought back on the straights. Huff, Neal, Ashley Sutton and Andy Priaulx traded the on-the-road lead between them on a corner by corner basis.
This was a tale repeated throughout the field, with the Europeans battling ahead in the bends and the Americans muscling back past down Lavant Straight. As Jordan fought his way through from the back, he encountered the hard-charging Barracuda of Mat Jackson.
Once cleared, he then had to do it all over again to get past Grosjean’s huge Ford Galaxie which was proving too powerful on the straight, and too wide to pass in the bends – at least while remaining on the circuit…
The fleet of Cortinas in the field was only matched by the number of Minis, but that was reduced by one before long as Jackie Oliver’s Lotus tagged the Mini of Richard Meaden, who speared across the track approaching Woodcote Corner.
Sutton retired his Cortina soon after, heading into the pits with a broken half-shaft, leaving Huff in the lead, from Neal and Priaulx. This three-way tussle kept on right to the chequered flag, which Huff took first but his jump-start penalty dropped him to fourth. Priaulx took the victory, having cleared Neal in the closing stages, with Andrew Jordan coming in third after starting last.
The cars take to the track again on Sunday for part 2, with their owners at the wheel.