Stubborn Silverstone


Oh my god! The gazebos on fire! …… Nope, that’s just the barbecue, thank god for that!

There was a definate September chill in the air on Friday evening at Silverstone, enough for us to move the barbecue into the relative warmth of the gazebo where it could also function as quite a useful heater…once it had stopped trying to smoke us out anyway! Despite being a bit chilly it was dry however which was good news at the preceding weeks forecast had looked (forgive us for getting technical) ‘a bit dodgy’

Raceday morning ‘tuning’

Saturday morning saw more glorious clear sky which always cheers Ross up as racing in the rain is ‘miserable’ So with smiles on faces we made our way through signing on and scrutineering before getting ready to take on the famous Silverstone tarmac in qualifying.

Thanks to DRHurrell Photographs

Out on circuit Ross had an early wake up call as Chris Ayling had a spectacular blow-up on the main straight just in front of him, sending smoke, oil, and various engine internals flying in what would be a very expensive and early end to his day.

Thanks to DRHurrell Photographs

The Silverstone National layout we use (and indeed most club racing and even the BTCC use) is in truth a fairly dull circuit. (Forgive us, but it had to be said!) The 1.6 miles are largely made up of straights with only 4 corners requiring you to go anywhere near the brake pedal. As we lack the out and out top end power that some of the more ‘top end’ competitors enjoy we therefore expected this to be one of our weaker events of the season and as a result we opted not to use any of our new tyre allocation. We’re saving those up for a big effort at our ‘local’ (and by ‘local, read about 100 miles away) circuit of Castle Combe which is coming up in October.

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

Having said all that we were still going for it at Silverstone and Ross was doing his best to hurry a good laptime out of the car in qualifying. The incar laptimer made for fairly depressing reading however so more commitment was called for and in the end an improvement to 1:03.6 lined us up in 8th place on the grid alongside Mark Fuller. Probably better than expected. Brian commenting that he’d ‘never seen Ross drive like that’ though as he’d abandoned his normal very clean wheels in line method and ended up throwing the car at the final sequence of corners by the end of qualifying in an effort to make up some lost time. In truth, not really any faster….but fun!

Karl and Paul deep in thought

Back in the pits we had a chance to catch up with lots of old friends who’d all come along to Silverstone for the day. Karl (who used to come with us when we did Nationals with Martin Lawrence) outdid himself and turned up on Friday armed with boxes of polishing cloth and a brilliant little electric scooter for us. Thanks very much! The orange signwriting is cutting as we speak so expect to see it in all its glory as Castle Combe. (And as an added bonus, it’s massively quieter than Pauls petrol thing!)

Just you get the RC Cars out, then we’ll show you something! 😉

Also lurking around the orange gazebo were more southwest based former Radio Controlled car racers (that’s where Ross started don’t forget!) in the shape of Mike Doody and his dad Charles as well as Wayne Belcher and his dad Mike. Great to see everybody and it brought back lots of happy memories of when the group used to travel all over the country racing the 1/10th scale RC cars, particularly the 2007 BTCC RC Season, our last hurrah in RC Cars if you like!

Lots more of this to come! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Back to the ‘big cars’ and it was soon time for race 1. Ross spent the entire first lap alongside Mark Fullers SLK before eventually moving ahead into 7th place at Copse Corner on lap 2. As expected the front six cars were gently escaping once they’d sorted themselves out but Ross couldn’t shake the attentions of Mike Thurley and Mark Fuller behind.

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

After several laps of some fairly defensive driving down the Wellington and pit straight Ross dropped back to 8th behind Mike Thurley on lap 8 as Mike moved past down the pit straight, a bit of a dodgy exit to Luffields not helping matters.

One lap later and with Thurley clearing off in front it was now Mark Fullers turn to get past Ross down the pit straight Into the fast Copse corner though and Mark ran a cars width wide which let #26 back through into 8th. The next seven laps were some of the best racing we’ve had since moving to circuit racing with Ross’ 206 and Marks SLK swapping places several times. We won’t try and give you a blow by blow account here but the video is well worth a watch. Click here to watch on Youtube. (And listen to Ross repeatedly whacking the rev limiter and knocking speed off, idiot!) In the end Ross took the 8th place by 2 tenths of a second, both drivers having had great fun.

Uh-oh, there’s a plan brewing! – Thanks to DRHurrell Photographs

Ross found himself on pole for race 2 after the top 8 from race 1 were reversed. Rather bizarrely however pole position was on the outside for very fast first corner of Copse. If you were lining cars up on a staggered grid for a clutch start it might make sense to have pole on the outside as it is the natural racing line, but to have pole out there for a side by side rolling start seems very wrong. We’d have been pretty miffed if we’d actually qualified on pole on merit!

Heading into Maggots in race 2 (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

With race 2 underway Ross got a bit wide and a bit rail-roaded on the outside line back the order on the first couple corners and was soon back to 9th place. Looking back at the video it’s pretty clear the changes we made to try and increase rear traction for the meeting probably had the opposite effect, a problem compounded by the rear tyres being past there best. Still, no time for that now, there’s a race to run! With mirrors full of a squabbling group headed by Luke Armiger, Malcolm Harding and Lewis Smith it was time for a deep breath and a bit of a regroup before #26 slowly edged clear.

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

It was a fairly quiet mid race until Malcolm Harding broke free of the following group and within a few laps had bridged the couple second gap to be right up with Ross. Again we won’t go into lap by lap accounts but it was another great race (even if Ross was getting visibly frustrated by Malcolms use of the run off areas! (Click here to see race 2 on Youtube) with Malcolms Tigra getting past Ross on several occasions with Ross repassing each time to take 9th place at the line by a tenth of a second. It was only after the race we found out that Malcolm had been given a 30 second penalty for over-use of the run off areas so we needn’t have raced him so hard, that said it was great fun and more good practice at close wheel to wheel racing.

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

Up at the front Matt Simpson took his second win of the day ahead of Chris Brockhurst. This is an incredibly important win as it moves Matt into the lead of the championship for the first time, having trailed Chris by 2 points since the first meeting of the season at Brands Hatch. Chris will be looking to hit back next time at what (in our heads at least) is likely to be a strong track for him. Should be exciting!

Thanks to DRHurrell Photographs

So that’s another meeting over. Just two more to go now, Castle Combe on October 5th and Brands Hatch on November 2nd/3rd. We’ve been knocked down to 6th place in the championship following Silverstone, 5 points behind Simon Smith, so we’ll be looking to put that right next time out! We have some new tyres to go on the car, (including a free one we received at Silverstone, bonus!) an idea of what to change at the rear end and Ross has reprogrammed his shift lights to stop him wasting a load of momentum by hitting the rev limiter. Fingers crossed for a dry and productive Castle Combe! See you there

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