Archive for October, 2004

Expletive deleted (or Donington Park Race Report)

The weather overnight was terrible and the ground was still damp for
qualifying. Perfect conditions to learn a track then 🙂 Most people
(including me) went for slicks, but there was very little grip. Under the
circumstances, I was pretty pleased with 5th on the grid 🙂

About 30 minutes before the race, it started raining and with about 5
minutes to go it started raining heavily. I wasn’t entirely unhappy because
it meant that there was no difficulty working out which tyres to choose and
because I always seem to go well in the wet.

My start wasn’t great, but I managed to hold position into the first corner.
I quickly found that I was much faster than the cars around me, and it was
very easy to overtake. By the end of the 2nd lap, I was up into second and
closing on the leader. By the end of the 3rd lap, I was in the lead and
pulling away!

This was the first time I’ve ever been in the lead of a race – and it would
have be my first ever outright win (I’ve won hillclimbs and sprints before,
and I won the Monoposto winter series a couple of years ago, but I’ve never
actually taken the chequered flag first before). It would also have been the
first time that Richard Cottrell would have been beaten in Monoposto this
year (I found out afterwards that I had a lot of people rooting for me on
the pitwall 🙂 I could see Richard in my mirrors, but he was gradually
falling back, and I seemed to be having an easier time getting past the
backmarkers than he did. All I needed to do was keep the car on the road and
hope that it held together.

It wasn’t to be, however. Two laps before the end, coming onto the main
straight, I changed up and thought that I’d found a false neutral – the
engine was revving, but the car was going nowhere. I tried to find another
gear but there was a terminal problem somewhere in the transmission 😦 I
pulled off onto the grass and became a spectator 😦

I got the fastest lap of the race, which partly made up for the
disappointment, but it would have been nice to get my first win!

The problem turned out to be a broken halfshaft. We had plenty of time to
drive down to the Jedi factory to pick up and fit a replacement in time for
the race on Sunday. This was slightly complicated when all of the lights on
my father’s truck failing in the middle of a dark and rainy M1, but the RAC
managed to get us illuminated again fairly quickly 🙂

Conditions on Sunday morning were similar to the previous day, but I decided
to gamble on wets. This turned out to be a very good decision indeed, and I
got pole position, 1.5 seconds clear of Richard Cottrell in second place 🙂

What we could see of the track was dry by the time the race was due to
start, but I decided to keep the wings set to maximum downforce because I
guessed that Craner Curves would still be damp. This turned out to be a
mistake – the track was bone dry all the way around 😦

I got a terrible start (bogged down again – I really need to learn how to
start with this new engine!), and was down in 4th place into the first
corner. Richard Cottrell was in the lead, followed by Andy Cowell (who got a
great start) then John Carding and me. John and I quickly got past Andy (who
I later found out had fuel pressure problems) and then had a great battle
for 3 laps, passing and re-passing each other. Very fair, very competitive
and great fun! We slowed each other up enough, however, to allow Bob
Couchman past into second. After the first few laps, John seemed to find
another gear and pulled away from me and passed Bob for second. We carried
along like this until the 2nd to last lap, when all of a sudden John slowed
and was passed by Bob. As I caught John, Bob also seemed to be slowing (I
later found out that they were both running out of fuel). I passed John
halfway around the last lap, and had very nearly caught Bob by the chequered
flag for a final position of 3rd.

All in all, I have to consider the weekend to be a success. Clearly the most
competitive I’ve been all year and my first real opportunity to win a race.
But I can’t help but feel robbed 😦

Results [here](http://www.mst-group.co.uk/meeting.asp?event=44332&source=brscc2004&eventtype=brsccclub)

Next race is the last Formula Jedi round at Brands Hatch in 2 weeks time.