Flying at Snetterton


Snetterton marks the start of the second half of the Quaife Intermarque Championship and at a mere 320 miles from Torquay is the longest trip of the season for us! With that in mind Ross was a little irritated to have to work on Saturday morning but after a slightly rushed morning of posting letters (Ross’ customers getting quite used to his Saturday routine of “Can’t stop now, we’ve got a race meeting to get to!”) the team were on their way by 1pm. A traffic free journey saw arrival at Snetterton by 7pm which was better than expected. Unfortunately the pits were absolutely chock full of cars (irritatingly more road cars than race cars, surely we need to clamp down on this when there isn’t enough room for people to get their race transporters in the pits?) but we eventually squeezed in behind a few of our fellow competitors, enabling us to get everything set up for the early start the following morning.

After the absolute heatwave we’ve been going through the past few weeks it’s fair to say that rain and cold weather were the absolute last thing we were expecting but the grey skies on Saturday evening were still present on Sunday morning, we’d even had a little rain during the night just to scare anyone who’d left their wets at home (Mr.Fuller!)

Not the weather we expected to be camping in

With rain looking more likely than sunshine we ripped out the extra ducting we’d added to the car to direct some extra air towards Ross and instead pointed it all back at the windscreen, we might be needing the demister yet! And to think only a week earlier we’d been on the phone to Demon Tweeks trying to order a ‘Cool Shirt’, with hindsight we’re perhaps glad they were out of stock!

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

After signing on and scrutineering we were out on track at 9am for qualifying. Ross went well here last year (also on the 300 layout) until a touch of over-exuberance sent him down the order so we were hoping for good things. After picking his way through some traffic on the first few laps Ross put some quick laps in and ran 4th for most of the session, only getting knocked back to 7th overall (6th in class) in the last minute which is a little annoying but 6th in class on a 2:06.3, just a couple tenths from 4th was a great start to the day.

With the excitement of qualifying over Ross then had the excitement of being interviewed! The Snetterton meeting is being broadcast on Motors TV on August 7th. (The program is called Last Lap) Fingers crossed Ross dosn’t sound too much like a farmer on TV! Also, if you missed it you can see the already broadcast coverage of the first meeting of the season on the Motorsport Web TV website by clicking here It’s a really well done program with the added benfit of featuring Ross leading for 2 whole laps…..or 4 if you’re watching it here as we rewound that part!

The midfield on lap 1 of race 1. Ross is in the background making crunching gear grinding noises (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

The trouble with great starts to the day however is that there’s only one way to go! Sure enough on turn 1 of lap 1 of race 1 the gearbox did its old trick and stuck itself in fourth gear, this proving to be a little bit of a problem as Ross struggled to get himself out of the way on the exit to the hairpin, eventually deciding that diving onto the grass was probably the only way to avoid being wiped out by the unsighted cars behind.

With the rest of the field safely through Ross bumped his way back onto the track, finally persuaded the car to come out of 4th and set off, initially just with the thought of getting back to the pits to allow a little more time to change the gearbox between races. With Snetterton being quite a long lap however Ross had worked out that he could sort of change gear at very low rpm and with a bit of a pause so he carried on past the pits and attempted to finish the rest of the race.

Baz demonstrates that the grass is in fact dry (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Every lap saw #26 managing to go a little faster as Ross worked out how best to drive round the problem, although slowing down for the hairpins with the gearbox wedged in 5th gear was somewhat amusing. With the car slowed down to mid corner speed 2nd gear could be grabbed before getting back on the power and gently working through the gears on the exit.

15 minutes of fun later and Ross had fumbled his way past a few cars and crossed the line in 15th which did bring 9 points that were looking somewhat unlikely at the start of the race! It was incredibly annoying however to still be well within sight of a whole group of cars ahead and knowing that had the problem not arisen a top result would have been achievable. We were still delighted to see Simon Smith take his first ever podium though, even if we wished we’d had the chance to be up there with him! Second place went to Matt Simpson with Chris Brockhurst some 6 seconds further up the road.

Organised chaos, sorry there aren’t more photos but we were all rather busy!

Back in the pits Brian, Paul and Ross began frantically ripping the broken gearbox out of the car, a job made much more difficult than normal due to everything being too hot to touch! To make things even more awkward our spare gearbox (well, we say ours, it’s actually Mike Loosemore’s, thanks Mike!) is a 4 speed as opposed to our normal 5 so we would have to change diff as well. A diff which we didn’t have so thanks very much to Simon Smith for the lend of his spare! And his jack! And his gear oil!

Look! Simon even had time to do TV interviews as well as lend us things! Top man! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Luckily there was a huge gap between races at this meeting which allowed the team time to complete the work and still have nearly 2 hours to spare, a brilliant job all round! By this time the weather had well and truly brightened up so we were glad to be able to laze around in the sun and cool off.

Warm-up lap for Race 2 (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Race 2 and Ross lined up 15th on the grid. The plan being to have a gentle first few laps to work out the gearing on the spare gearbox (with it’s unknown ratios) and different diff. In truth nothing about the first few laps was particularly gentle however as there was some brilliant racing right through the field. Ross got a good run at the start but getting a little boxed in behind Malcolm Harding and not being too sure of which gear he could get away with at which corner let Luke Armiger squeeze past round turn 1. Into the Montreal hairpin and out the other side, the slightly higher gearing in second gave Ross a slow exit and let Malcolm Blackman alongside but a good run round the outside of the next left kept Ross in front.

Through the Bomb Hole and away! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Later on in the lap and it had all kicked off at the front with Russell Humphrey ending up sideways across the track with the rest of the field diving left and right to avoid him. Ross bumped into the back of Mike Thurley as they both braked to avoid the incident, this really scuppering Ross as his foot somehow managed to get underneath the throttle pedal, leaving him momenteraly confused as he went to have a stab at the throttle to drive on but got absolutely nothing! Problem solved and #26 was underway again, chasing Thurley through on the inside of a recovering Richard and Lewis Smith. That bad run onto the straight however let Malcolm Blackman down the outside on the approach to Brundle corner but some very fair driving allowed Ross to stay a bit wide at the following Nelson corner and maintain the place.

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

Still working out the gears on the fly Ross was following Luke Armiger round the rest of the first lap. Onto lap 2 and #26 went around Mike Thurley at the fast first corner of Riches, Ross’ car working really well at this high speed turn. A few corners later and Ross again followed in Armigers wheeltracks as the pair moved past Harding on the inside of Agostini turn. Hardly believing how well things were going Ross was reasonably happy to sit back a little behind Armiger as the cars in the mirror were disappearing rapidly and the cars in front were all getting closer, this is how racing should be!

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

Lap 3 and Armiger ran a little wide onto the Bentley straight which gave Ross enough of a run to move through into 8th. Ross was able to make up for Chris Aylings blistering straight line speed with some good runs through the high speed turns and some late braking to close in on the Corrado which ran wide at Oggies on the next lap to let Ross through into 7th. There was now a bit of a gap to the battling Jeff Simpson and Daniel Smith but with our little 206 working perfectly Ross was soon up with the pair.

A lap later and Daniel made a move up the inside of Jeff at Agostini with Ross close behind. The trio then ran through the left at Hamilton in close proximity with Jeff on the outside half alongside Daniel and Ross. With the tight right hander of Oggies upon them Jeff made a big move on the brakes to try and retake both places but ran wide which allowed Daniel to cut back to the inside of him, Ross meanwhile was having the same idea and cut to the inside of the pair of them! Needless to say there was a little rubbing (as the commentator said, 3 into 1 won’t go) but Ross kept his foot in and had the inside line for the fast right onto Bentley straight. Another thud in the left rear told Ross something was going on but he was through into 5th as Jeff and Daniel tangled and spun onto the straight behind

.

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

It was by now pretty late in the race and the cars ahead were some distance away (and also going at a fair rate of knots themselves!) but 5th overall and 4th in class would be an absolute dream result in the circumstances. It was nearly 4th overall however as Matt Moores Escort suffered a fuelling problem on the last lap which let Ross power past on the exit to the last corner before Matts Escort found a bit of fuel from somewhere and used its quite ridiculous amount of power to edge out Ross before the line. Still, 4th in class is our best result and the whole team were understandably chuffed to bits. Don’t forget that the wonderful little 206 is for sale at the end of the season! Click here for more info if you missed the last update! You can also watch race 2 on our Youtube Channel by clicking here. Go on, it’s really quite entertaining!

Race 2 Podium, just one place away!!! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

In front of Ross we were happy to see Simon (we wouldn’t have been there without you thanks!) take his second podium of the day behind Chris Brockhurst and race winner Matt Simpson.

To top off a great end to the day Ross got ‘Driver of the Day’ and a 3 month subscription to Motorsport News. Somehow the journey home didn’t seem all that bad….

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

Championship time and it’s incredibly tight at the top with Chris Brockhurst still leading Matt Simpson by those 2 points, surely one of them will have a DNF at some point! Jeff Simpson remains in 3rd with Malcolm Blackman in 4th on 125 points although we have closed to within 6 points of him, if only that gearbox hadn’t have let go! Still, bad luck has it’s way of evening out and Malcolm had his own bad luck during the day. Simon Smith is now in 6th 11 points behind us with Russell Humphrey and Lewis Smith just a couple more behind. It’s getting exciting!

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