We’re off! (Literally)

“Do you not think we’re leaving it a bit late?”
“Oh no, you’ve got to be finishing the car the day before the race, it’s the law”
“Sure sure…but praying it doesn’t rain on the journey to the track because the paint is still wet?!?”
“Okay, it’s closer than usual”

Just a glimpse of what was going on at the Loram garage on Saturday morning before we loaded up the car (somewhat carefully as the orange had literally just been sprayed) ready for round 1 of the season at Brands Hatch the following day! Still, as we say, you must be working on the car the day before the meeting, it’s practically compulsory!

Don’t skimp on the hardener Paul!

With fine weather and a trouble free journey we made it to Brands on Saturday evening and after eventually finding somewhere to pit we set about getting everything ready for the next day and the infuriating job of stickering up the car with the various mandatory decals, not least the Quaife sunstrip which proved to be incredibly frustrating to apply! (Probably not helped by it being dark by this point) Still, with all the small final jobs taken care of and a terrible nights sleep had by all we had the usual Sunday morning routine of signing on, scrutineering and drivers briefing to go through. The rebuilt car sailing through scrutineering nicely which was a nice contrast to this meeting last year when it pretty much failed on all counts!

Has the paint dried yet?

Looking round the pits we were very pleased by the much increased number of silhouette cars present this season with 16 in total being double what we had at most meetings last season. The remainder of the 31 car grid would be made up of a couple class A cars and the Quaife Motorsport News Championship who were joining us for this meeting. This made for a very busy and diverse grid and you have to wonder if the speed difference between some of the cars isn’t getting a little on the large side. The combination of the two championships also being the reason Ross raced under number 6 this weekend but he’ll be back to #26 when the championships separate again later in the year.

A clear bit of track just in time for a red flag

Qualifying was always going to be ‘busy’ with 31 cars on track and so it proved to be! Ross turned a couple steady laps in traffic at the start of the session before looking for a clear bit of track, unfortunately just as he did so the red flags came out with Dave Sheltons BMW E46 GTR biting the fence hard on the Cooper straight, leaving most of the track covered in various BMW parts as he did so. With so much to clear up there was no time to get the session restarted, giving a very mixed up grid with Daniel Smith on a surprise pole, Ross meanwhile would line up a disgruntled 24th having only cruised round to a 58 second lap!

Ross goes for a bumpy ride trying to make up places in lap 1 of race 1 – Thanks to www.ae-photography.co.uk

Still, from 24th there’s only one way to go and Ross made up a few spots on the opening lap before having a good dice with Mike Thurley in his lovely new Tigra as the pair were stuck behind Jezz Francis. After clearing him and Thurley being black flagged for a loose door it was a pretty uneventful run to the flag in 16th position. Looking at the laptimes after the race we were pretty disappointed to be lapping in the 53’s having done so much work to the car over the winter so the car was altered a little, Ross gave himself a good talking to and after watching the F1 highlights (Sergio Perez – so nearly!) it was time for race 2.

Ross either describing a handling problem or working on his hamster impression…

From 16th at the rolling start Ross was able to move round the outside of Malcolm Wise’ Escort Cosworth at Paddock before getting a good clear run round the outside of Druids past Philip Young (we always race together mate!) and Gavin Thompson for 13th place. Meanwhile it was all kicking off at the front on the run down to Graham Hill bend with Matt Moore and Daniel Smith speering off the track in opposite directions as the main pack came through with Ross’ 206 taking advantage to slide up the inside of Colin Gomm and then past the retiring Mick Robertson to cross the finish line at the end of lap 1 in a highly surprising 7th place! The talking to Ross had given himself certainly seemed to have done the job with much better laptimes being displayed on the Racelogic predictive laptimer of consistent 52’s (a best lap of 52.6 recorded on lap 5)

Game over! Thanks to www.ae-photography.co.uk

With the race progressing the only cars to catch up and pass would be Matt Moore in his amazing 500+ bhp Escort Silhouette and Colin Gomm who edged past in his SLK. So with only a few laps to go 9th place was looking possible with Ross just about holding a gap to Philip Young in 10th who was in turn being pursued by Mark Fuller who was recovering from starting at the rear of the grid following his puncture in race 1. Punctures seemed to be the theme of the day however as Ross turned into Paddock on lap 13 only to be surprised as the front left tyre rapidly deflated. A bit of a struggle and a slight dip into the gravel with the outside tyres later and Ross’ 206 was scraping it’s way upto Druids. Staying wide at the hairpin to avoid all the other cars coming through Ross then made the dumbest decision of the day to bump through a couple foot of fairly solid looking dense gravel across to the grass to park up out of the way. The gravel trap however did its job very well and had no trouble stopping the car so Ross hopped out and had a great view of the last few laps with the marshals!

What is rapidly becoming known as ‘the unbreakable splitter’ It survived it’s high speed flymo moment at Pembrey last week and it survived being buried under 6 inches of gravel at Brands this week!

After the race and with the car having had a ride back to the pits on a low loader we popped a spare wheel on and marvelled at the huge amount of gravel stuck in the front of the car. Fortunately no other damage seemed to have been done but it’s still puzzling why we’ve had so many punctures recently. Still, the car was looking a lot more competitive in that second race despite still not really having enough traction off the corners but we have plenty of ideas to cure that before Silverstone so hopefully we can go even better next time. For now though, we’ve got some gravel to clear up! See you next time.

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