Croft race report

The weekend did not start well – the journey up to Croft was awful, partly
because of several traffic jams but mainly because the trailer developed a
nasty “snake” at one point. This was a very frightening experience
(particularly as not very long ago one of the mechanics at Jedi had the same
thing happen to him, and he ended up with the van he was driving on its
roof). Luckily nothing so severe happened to us, but I will definitely be
taking steps to stop the problem recurring!

We went to the circuit armed with various suggestions from both Jedi and the
rolling road who set up the carburettors for things we could try in order to
cure the engine problems we had at Silverstone. I thought that we’d found
the problem when I removed the needles from the carbs and discovered that
cylinders 1, 2 and 4 were running almost full rich whereas cylinder 3 was
running full lean. Unfortunately, making the settings consistent didn’t have
any noticeable effect on the track, and neither did anything else we tried
throughout the weekend 😦

The track was mainly dry for qualifying, but there were still a few damp
patches from the overnight rain and even a few patches of standing water. I
ended up 6th overall, which was actually rather better than I expected given
the engine problems. I was in the middle of a group of cars approximately 3
seconds off pole (which is a very big gap!). I’m not going to be able to
challenge for the front of the grid until I have the new, tuned engine ready
(hopefully in time for the next race!).

After practice, the whole field was called to see the Clerk of the Course
for a wrist slapping. He said that he’d had the largest pile of reports from
the marshals he’d ever seen and was worried that the race would be carnage.
As it happens, he wasn’t far wrong…

The race started OK – I picked up one place at the start, but I very quickly
came under pressure from two cars behind me. I was able to stretch my lead
through the faster sections of the track, but as soon as we got to anything
twisty the engine would bog down again and they would be right on my tail.
On lap 2, we passed one of the leaders who had stopped with mechanical
trouble and then on lap 3, the red flags came out to stop the race.

For the restart, I was in 4th, but the 3rd place car was missing (presumably
involved in the incident which brought out the red flags) so it was a
“virtual” 3rd. I didn’t get a great start, and I went into the first corner
side-by-side with another car. We both tried to outbrake each other and as a
result, both braked too late. He left it slightly later than I did and ended
up spinning in the gravel trap. I also went into the gravel, but managed to
keep the car pointing roughly in the right direction and get back onto the
track. Unfortunately, in the process of getting back onto the track, I
tangled with John Lord and we hit (my right-hand rear to his left-hand
front). This deranged my suspension and I had to pull off at the next corner
😦

The race turned out to be something of a demolition derby with several cars
hors de combat by the end. Only three of the top 7 qualifiers finished!

The collision had written off the right hand rear upright and a couple of
rod ends – not too bad considering how bad it could have been. My pit crew
put in their usual sterling effort, and the car was back together, with all
of the wheels pointing where they should be, in time for the second race the
following day.

My DNF in the first race meant that I would be close to the back of the
grid. I got a pretty good start, and picked up around 6 places before the
first corner. I made up a few more places throughout the rest of the race,
and eventually finished 11th. It should have been higher, but on the second
to last lap, I spun at the hairpin as a result of trying to keep the engine
revs up and avoid bogging down. This allowed two cars past, and gave me an
unpleasant moment when my visor immediately steamed up making it very
difficult to see whether it was safe to restart!

All in all, not a very good weekend 😦 Full results are [here](http://www.mst-group.co.uk/meeting.asp?event=41664&source=cscc2004&eventtype=csccclub)

The next race is in 5 weeks time at Snetterton on May 22/23. Hopefully I
will have the new tuned engine in by then, and working properly!

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