Lydden Hill – halfway


“Still not here?”
“Nope”
“Bloody Interlink, should’ve sent it Royal Mail, we’d have had it here by now”
“Yes Ross”
“Just saying. Fancy another brew?”

That was the conversation at the Loram garage on Friday afternoon shortly before the Interlink delivery van did finally come down the road with our new halfshaft onboard. It’s fair to say we all could have kissed the delivery driver by this point!

So, with our new halfshaft hastily fitted the team set off for Lydden Hill, a mere 260 miles along the south coast. It must be said that after only getting home from Brands Hatch at 1am the previous Monday, wedging 5 days work in, fixing the car and getting to Lydden for Friday evening everyone was a little on the worn out side! Still, with the car unloaded, the gazebo / tents up (the new easy-up really comes into it’s own at times like this!) and the BBQ on the go all by 9pm we were pretty happy!

Go Rob!

After a very windy night that flat packed Pauls tent on more than one occasion (much to Ross’ amusement) we went through the normal routine of signing on and scrutineering while the weather improved enough that by the time qualifying was called at 9:20am the drivers had a lovely dry track to play with. Perfect.

Qualifying (Thanks to Keith Duke for the photo)

Ross felt happy with the car from the start of qualifying and after running in a group of cars for a few laps early on he dropped back to find some free space and set a laptime. The end of the session saw Ross finish 11th fastest with a best lap of 44.9 which was perhaps slightly disappointing although in truth the times were all very close for the most part and 1 or 2 tenths could move you 1 or 2 rows on the grid!

Lap 1 of race 1 (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Race 1 and Ross would have a clear space in front of him as Luke Arminger didn’t make the start. With the race underway Ross spent nearly the entire first lap alongside Philip Young before finally nosing ahead coming out of the hairpin.

Close action coming out of the hairpin in race 1 (Thanks to Keith Duke for the photo)

#26 spent the next lap chasing after Ben Taylors Tigra before Chris Ayling (who was running directly ahead of Ben) had a huge off at the infamous Paddock Bend at the bottom of Hairy Hill (no we didn’t make that up), launching through the gravel trap head first into the tyre wall with enough force to bounce back onto the track as Ross dodged past.

Ouch! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

With Chris’ Corrado in the track the red flags were soon out. Thankfully Chris was soon out of the car, none the worse for wear (although the same couldn’t be said for the car!) so the race was restarted with Ross now in 9th place. It wouldn’t be 9th for long though as Daniel Smith snuck his way past Ross within a few laps, Ross frustratingly not quite being able to keep up with Daniel and Ben ahead as they just edged away by a few feet each lap…Lydden never was our strongest track!

(Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

#26 was back upto 9th by default a few laps later though as Mike Thurley retired. 9th place then became 8th as Richard Smith had an interesting rallycross moment at the Devils Elbow that allowed Ross to move through. Despite not being able to live with Daniel and Ben, Ross had enough speed to keep the dicing Richard and Lewis a safe distance behind for the second half of the race while inheriting another place as Simon Smith ended his great run in the gravel trying to avoid a battling Blackman and Simpson. 7th at the flag then. Click here to see race 1 on Youtube.

Race 2 and after the draw had been made the top 8 drivers from race 1 would be reversed for the race 2 grid leaving Ross’ 206 on outside pole….we’re getting into the habit of doing this!

Race 2 start (Thanks to Keith Duke for the photo)

Ross didn’t make matters easy for himself from the start as he banged against the rev limiter and gave fellow front row starter Lewis Smith a cars length into turn 1. Still, Ross hung on around the outside but then perhaps braked a little early for the Devils Elbow and had to drop into second.

(Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

It all went wrong at the end of lap 1 though as #26 ran out wide on the exit of Paddock Bend and with 2 wheels bouncing through the gravel it looked like it might be our own ‘Ayling moment’ but thankfully not although the loss in momentum let Ben Taylor through on the run down to turn 1 and with Ross stuck on the outside both Simpsons moved through in short succession.

(Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

To really finish off a fairly rubbish first few laps, Ross got out of position and lost a couple more places to Daniel and Richard Smith as he recovered. Mike Thurley also came through a lap later to leave Ross 8th. Try as he might Ross couldn’t quite get involved with the battle for 3rd which happened tantalisingly within sight over the next 15 laps (it eventually going the way of Jeff Simpson while Matt Simpson won the race ahead of Chris Brockhurst) so it was 8th at the finish. You can watch race 2 on Youtube here.

That’s it for this meeting, perhaps not quite as competitive as some of our Brands Hatch showings but still two decent finishes on one of our less favourable circuits. A final added bonus of the weekend is that at the halfway point of a very competitive season we have retaken 5th place in the championship with 95 points, being behind only Chris Brockhurst, Matt & Jeff Simpson and Malcolm Blackman. Certainly better than last season!

Roll on Snetterton!

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