Ups and downs

There are some days when we come home from a race meeting and the first thing I do the next day is write the update for this website while happily thinking about the previous days racing and flicking through the various photos and videos……today is not one of those days! 😉 Ross

Snetterton was the destination for our latest outing in the Quaife Intermarque League which meant a traffic filled 318 mile, 6 and a half hour Friday afternoon journey from sunny Torquay. Still, we arrived in plenty of time to unload everything into our garage for the weekend so we’d be nice and ready for the early start on saturday when we’d need to be at scrutineering at 7:30am.

Good neigbours for the weekend with Philip Young, aka Mr.Cheese sharing our garage, even if our car sported some ‘I Love Mr.Cheese’ signs on raceday morning!

With the garage organised for raceday Ross and Paul just about had time to pitch their new tents before darkness fell. Ross taking great delight in his new easy up tent which you simply take out of the bag, throw in the air and watch in amazement as it falls back down completely assembled, inner sheet and all! So, after we’d all agreed the tent was more amazing than the racecar it was time to get some sleep in peace, away from Brians snoring in the van!

Very patriotic! Could be an issue if we ever race abroad though!

Saturday morning brought with it warm and dry weather which was a relief to see after the previous few weeks! After progressing through signing on, scrutineering and the noise check without problems we were out on track at 9am sharp for qualifying. If you’re the type of person who struggles to wake up in the mornings may we suggest hurtling round an unfamiliar racetrack with 20 others cars, that’s sure to leave you wide awake!

Beautiful July weather as seen from the pitlane

Despite having raced at Snetterton last season, we found ourselves on the new ‘300’ layout this year which comprises the original 2 mile layout combined with the extra new 1 mile of infield section which was added last year. This does make for a very long lap but Ross was enjoying the more technical infield section which helps to break up the lap and make for a really mixed challenge. Of course, being a 3 mile lap and qualifying being 15 minutes long we weren’t going to get chance to complete many laps so it was important to ‘get on it’ as soon as possible and set a competitive laptime. Ross managed to do just that and set a 2:08 on his fourth lap which turned out to be doubly important when the red flags came out and stopped the session a few minutes early to retrieve Lee Griffiths car which was stranded just off the circuit.

Back in the pits then and when the timing sheets came round we were pleased to find we were 7th overall from 19 runners and 3rd in our class. With some very heavy braking points at this circuit and Ross feeling the brakes were a little on the ‘spongy’ side we bled the brakes, cleaned off the tyres and waited for our first race which was scheduled for 12:30.

Leaving the assembly area for race 1

As usual our races began with a rolling start with Ross holding position on the inside of the fourth row round the first few corners. Unbelievably Tommy Field then appeared in the mirrors. Tommy had qualified on pole by an absolute country mile but had been demoted to the rear of the field for being 1kg underweight. He’d then somehow made up 11 positions off the start and through the first 3 corners to be past Ross next and continue his charge to the front of the field. There’s no doubting the man can drive but oh for a go in that car!

Slightly irritated but undeterred Ross inherited a place as Daniel Smith ran wide and then moved past a slowing Jeff Simpson just before the end of lap 1 to move into 6th overall and the class lead! The only problem being that Lee Griffiths purple Corsa had latched onto the back of Ross’ 206 and try as he might Ross couldn’t shake him off. Half way round lap 3 the inevitable happened and the admittedly faster Lee found an opening and took the class lead away. Onto lap 4 though and Ross was back through, up a gap on the inside at the hairpin and into the lead. It all went wrong later on in the lap though as Ross missed a downshift which resulted in a big slide wide and dropping the outside wheels off the track. Still, quickly back onto the track and fortunately the pair had opened up a gap to the pack behind so Ross only lost the 1 position, unfortunately he was too busy cursing himself to make enough consideration of the fact that his outside tyres were covered in mud and grass so sure enough another big moment at the next corner and a much bigger trip through the scenery! Proper amateur hour stuff. A whole host of cars were close enough to shoot by as Ross rejoined the track in no particular hurry as he wrongly thought he had a puncture. Not that it mattered a great deal as the trip through the scenery had blocked up the radiator and the oil cooler forcing an overheating car and driver to retire shortly afterwards.

Watch race 1 online (Either click play on the video above or click here to view on Youtube)

Once back in the pits the team set to work removing all the grass and mud from the car and generally getting ready for race 2 while Ross muttered expletives to himself!

Ross and Paul still manage a smile

Race 2 had a pretty mixed up grid with quite a few faster cars towards the back after suffering problems in race 1. Ross would start alongside Mick Roberston on the outside of row 7. Into turn 1 for the first time and Ross went between Philip Young and one of the Caterhams and carried on round the outside of John Chasey to move upto 10th. Next up were the side by side pairing of Mike Thurley and Lee Griffiths making it pretty hard to get through. A dodgy exit out of the final corner of lap 1 let Mick Robertson get a run down the straight and get past although when Mick put a move on Mike Thurley later on round the lap it gave Ross a chance to get alongside Mike and make it past on the outside heading into the back straight. Daniel Smith took advatage of all this battling to get a better exit and pass both drivers before the next turn! It was at this point that Ross was noticing a very bad vibration at speed which were making things ‘interesting’ in the 206, also coming under the heading of ‘interesting’ was the water temperature which was again higher than usual. Despite carrying on for a few more laps at a slightly gentler speed the water temperature was still higher than usual, and the high speed vibration still terrible, then to really finish the weekend off we received the mechanical warning flag so that was the end of our race.

It turns out the high speed vibration Ross was feeling had been caused by the splitter coming loose. Once this had happened it had begun flapping between the car and the track and had literally shaken most of the fixings off the front panels. Apparently at speed the front end panels had been bouncing up and down like no-ones business. Of course from inside the car the furthest thing forward you can see is the windscreen so it’s hard to tell what’s going on but at least it explains the vibration, the lack of straight line speed and the cooling problems……so that’s something!

A pretty up and down meeting then but on the plus side we led our class for the first time and the next round is at Thruxton, so at least it’s not too far to travel! Before then though Ross will be attempting the 3 Peaks challenge (that’ll be climbing the 3 highest peaks in Britain in 24 hours) so if he looks knackered at Thruxton that’ll be why!

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