“It looks like some mad giant scalectrix track!”
Brians words as we took our first glimpse at the Lydden Hill circuit after arriving on saturday evening. In short, he was right! Despite watching a few incar videos on YouTube to get an idea of the layout we still had no idea of how steep or banked parts of the track were. If you’re a hot rodder reading this and you can imagine a cross between Mendips Raceway and a scalectrix track then you can imagine Lydden Hill! Simply awesome!
The run upto and down from the hairpin at Lydden to give an idea of the gradient! (Not a photo from this weekend, it’s far too sunny!)
Still, with time getting on we only had time for a quick look at the track before unloading the car and setting up ready for sunday before it was time for some well earned sleep…well Ross thought it was well earned anyway after starting work at 5am on saturday morning!
So, sunday morning came around but instead of the usual rush to sign on and get the car scrutineered we had a very lazy morning with signing on not until 11am – we could get used to this! As those who live relatively nearby rolled in throughout the morning (Hi Philips!) the weather was getting worse and worse. Strong winds were threatening to turn our gazebo into a hang glider and it wasn’t long before a massive downpour was overhead. Still, with over an hour to go until qualifying and the weather quickly changing the track just about had time to dry before we were due out. Of course, it then decided to pour down just as all the cars were lined up in the assembly area! Cue complete carnage as everyone dived for wet tyres and a bit of a problem for us as only Ross and Brian were at this meeting making quick tyre changes a bit of a nightmare. Still, Brian did very well (greatly helped by our new very clever and easy to use quick lift jack, and we can’t lie, we copied the design from Mick Robertson!) and the qualifying session wasn’t long underway when Ross took to the track on wet tyres for his first laps.
As feared (but as usual) the car was pretty bad in the wet, no traction and copious amount of wheelspin seemed to be the order of the day as Ross struggled round for the remainder of the session with a best lap a massive 6 seconds off pole for 11th of the 12 silhouette cars competing this weekend. (due to the short and tight nature of the track the usual full field of cars having been split into separate class groups)
Back in the pits we cursed the weather and made some alterations to the rear end in search of better traction. And as the sun was coming out we changed back to slicks and looked forward to race one.
Unfortunately just as in qualifying the rain started to fall as the cars were lined up in the assembly area for race 1! Not as hard this time though and all 12 cars took to the track on slicks as only the odd drop of rain was falling. So, with the track now dry it was a case of learning as you went along. #26 picked up a few places early on as #29 Mike Thurley and #14 Daniel Smith retired and after a few laps Ross had reeled in #21 Philip Young in his Colt. The pair were pretty evenly matched and had a good race for a few laps before Ross eventually made it up the inside into the hairpin to take over 8th place and 2nd in class as a light sprinkling of rain began to fall. Not really enough rain to make the warm track overly slippery, but enough to start rolling up the windscreen at speed and just make you question just how much grip you’d have at the next corner! A few laps more was all Ross was going to manage in this race however as he got flagged for having a loose passenger side door which meant the first retirement of the season. In truth we can accept being flagged for something like that but it was a bit irritating to be flagged after 10 or so laps when the door had been flapping slightly since turn 1 of lap 1.
Ross heads a train of cars into paddock bend in race 2 (Thanks to Rubber Duck Does Motorsport Photography)
After another hour of anxious glances at the sky we were back on track (doors secured!) in dry conditions for race 2. From 9th on the grid Ross made a good start and snuck up the inside of #21 in the first corner and then passed the retiring Luke Arminger later on in the lap. The car looked to be going well but Ross did slide back a few places behind Thurley, Ayling and Smith to 8th before the end of a close race (perhaps a little race rusty!) Despite this being a short lap (around 45 seconds) we were still pleased to be within a second a lap of Mike Thurley, Daniel Smith, Chris Ayling and (the admittedly struggling with something) Keith White who doesn’t seem to be having a lot of luck lately.
There’s no doubt Lydden is a pretty unique track, perhaps one that requires a bit more a ‘grab it and drag it around’ style than Ross’ but damn good fun nonetheless, for the first time this season Brian was wishing he had his Tigra to play with!
Work beigins on modifying the front end…
With the car back home we need to cure the problem we have with the oil tank throwing oil out of it’s breather. We have more than a few theories why this is happening (four at the moment, a couple of ours and a few from all our racing buddies, thankyou!) so we are making some adjustments at the moment which should cure the problem (and save some weight) for the next meeting at Brands Hatch on October 22nd. Expect an update on our progress soon!
(Also, as you may have read, the due to be televised meeting at Donington Park on 1st October has been cancelled (as have a number of other Donington Park meeting this year) but we have another meeting at Brands Hatch on 12th November in its place)