Top 5 at Lydden

Closing, closing, closing, grab 4th gear as you run out of revs, duck out of the slipstream to make the pass. A hill is in view, the revs drop, back down to 3rd gear and drop in behind the lorry….it’s a hard old slog up the A303 in our big old Transit and even getting past the lorries is a tough ask up those hills! With our 5 hour south coast journey from Torquay in the south west to Lydden Hill near Dover in the south east over we were happy to arrive at the circuit just in time for the England v Sweden Euro 2012 match at 8pm on Friday night. We were even happier when England wobbled their way to a 3-2 win!

We have a Paulie for the weekend! Now start reading the website man!

With this meeting being a celebration of 100 years of the BARC we had all sorts of weird and wonderful machines squeezing themselves into the pits. Everything from our usual Quaife Intermarques and Tintops to full sized race trucks (and it’s quite a squeeze getting those in the pits!) to show trucks, we even had some oval racing from a whole horde of vehicles, Sprint cars, Elms stock cars, Hot rods, Super rods, even some comedy Reliant Robins!

New splitter

An early start to this meeting for us as we were signed on, through scrutineering and out on track for qualifying at 9:15am. Lydden Hill is very much a ‘grab hold of the car and drive it like you stole it’ kind of track which isn’t really Ross’ kind of thing but give us a race track and we’ll have a go! For this meeting we’d altered the camber / castor and had a new longer front splitter, (as well as new bumpers) all of which had definitely given the car a much better front end with none of the understeer that’s being plaguing us recently. In fact if anything Ross was having trouble getting the power down although in fairness everyone seemed to be struggling a little in that department, especially through the very long uphill / downhill right hander which definitely keeps a drivers attention!

A great shot of qualifying showing the gradient changes at Lydden! – Thanks to Keith Duke for the photo

The end of qualifying saw Ross post the 9th best lap of the 18 cars in what was a very close and mixed grid. Tommy Field was inevitably on a clear pole but only 8 tenths covered 2nd placed Richard Smith from Keith White who was much further down the grid than usual in 11th. Big congrats to Philip Young who was delighted to be 5th on the grid and Mike Thurley (Petrol powered this week! Sorry Mike!) having his best showing yet in 3rd

Got to have dry boots!

Onto the races then which were 15 laps each (as opposed to our normal timed races) With the huge race trucks having been out on circuit by this point it’s fair to say that grip was in short supply with everyone struggling to match their qualifying times. Starting from the inside of row 5 Ross got boxed in on the inside of the long first corner as the whole inside row of cars seemed to make a slightly sleepy start to the day which let Mark Fuller sneak round the outside. Coming out of the hairpin on the first lap though and Mark slowed with a broken steering arm which let Ross back through. The unusual sight of Keith White was then looming in the Loram mirrors for a few laps and after Keith got his nose in front on the outside approaching the paddock bend Ross relented and Keith was through and after the cars in front. A lap later and Keith dived for the inside of Simon Smith with Ross scurrying around behind the pair of BMW Z4’s looking to take advantage but there weren’t any 206 sized gaps to be found!

Ross in the thick of the action in race 1 – Thanks to Keith Duke for the photo

The next few laps were very busy with lots of cars running close together although passing was proving to be difficult around the tight Lydden circuit, especially without letting the guy behind you past! That’s what happened though as Ross got a little offline trying to make inroads on Ayling and Smith which let Lee Griffiths nip past. The next corner though and Smith dropped a couple wheels into the gravel on the exit of the difficult Paddock bend which let Ayling, Griffiths and Ross back though! Simon and Ross swapped places oncemore in the next few laps before Ross could make a little bit of a gap and chase down an increasingly sideways looking Ayling. Into the final lap and Ross was alongside down the right, alongside down the left but couldn’t quite make it stick before the flag so it was 10th place overall and 7th in class HR in what was a very close and enjoyable race. Tommy Field took the overall win with Mike Thurley capitalising on his good qualifying performance to win class HR.

Many gazebos bit the dust as strong winds hit Lydden!

On the final lap of the race Keith White had ended up in the gravel after suffering from brake failure. From the other drivers view point on the track it looked like the car had just rolled into the gravel and it wasn’t until sometime after the race once back in the pits we found out that Keith had actually collected the barriers pretty hard side on and that there was some concern. Keith was conscious but removed from the car on a stretcher as a precaution (‘you’re not cutting my roof off!’) After a trip to the medical centre he was sent to hospital for some checks (‘you’re not cutting my overalls off either!’ Quite agree, they’re bloody expensive!) but thankfully everything was okay and Keith was back at the circuit in time to watch the second race. Fingers crossed that’s the last hospital trip for any of our guys this year and we look forward to seeing Keith back on track at Snetterton next time.

Philips dog tries to pee on Ross’ wets, now that’s well trained!

Back in the pits and with a mammoth 4 hours until our next race we took the opportunity to cut a few extra cooling holes in the new front bumper as the engine was running a little warm in race one. We thought we’d get away without having the extra holes that feed air to the oil cooler with the new bumper but apparently not! Ross also decided to alter the rear end in search of a little more traction to go with all that lovely steering we found before the meeting. Still with time on our hands we had the rarest of rare chances to go and watch some of the other racing! Glad we did too, seeing a full sized truck power sliding is quite a sight!

Ready for the rolling start…

A few spots of rain before race 2 had everyone looking concerned for a moment (except Philip Young who refused to be worried about anything after his 5th place in qualifying) but blue skies were back overhead as the cars took the rolling start. That is, once the drivers stopped staring at the grid girl with the ’30 second board’ and got their minds back on racing!

Ross was on the outside of row 5 this time around and went for a big move around the outside of the long right hander to move ahead of Ayling and get alongside Philip. Ross and Philip spent pretty much the whole first lap side by side with Ross only getting clear as they started lap 2. Up ahead Griffiths made it past Richard Smith before Ross himself tried to make it past the Tigra. Richard switching to the Avon Tyres this weekend from his normal Hoosiers and not seeming to like the switch as Ross went past at the hairpin a few laps later. With the rear end adjustments seeming to be doing the job Ross set off after Griffiths who’d opened up a bit of a gap.

Ross coming out of the hairpin in race 2 – Thanks to Keith Duke for the photo

Although Lydden isn’t really ‘our kind of track’ it’s quite an experience to dance one of our rear wheel drive cars around and the occasional slight flicking of gravel against the body meant Ross was using just about as much track as he could get away with on the exit of paddock bend! It seemed to be doing the job though as Ross closed onto the back of Griffiths by half race distance but try as he might he just couldn’t find a way through. Despite fighting for position the pair stayed a little way clear of the rest of the chasing pack featuring Philip Young, Simon Smith and Colin Gomm amongst others. With Daniel Smith spinning near the end of the race Ross crossed the line a very pleased 5th overall and 4th in class HR for our best result of the season.

All smiles after race 2

So, with the end of that meeting comes the half way point of the season and we’re pretty pleased with the way things are going. It might not have started great at Brands and we might have done better in the races at Mallory but we’ve been closer to the front at every meeting and that’s really all we can aim for. The next meeting is at Snetterton (July 21st) on the new ‘300’ layout and we’re pretty confident of going well there. Happily there’s not too much to do to the car before then either aside from the usual spanner check, clean up and possibly giving the gearbox a check over.

See you next time!

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