American Speedfest


The mug of shame

Saturday morning in the Loram garage and aside from Ross’ tea everything is going to plan. By 4pm the Tigra is all finished and loaded up ready for the journey to Brands Hatch for round 3 of this years Quaife Intermarque championship. With this being the ‘American Speedfest’ meeting expect to see lots of Nascars, huge trucks, Elvis and such a poor rendition of the American national anthem that it bought tears of laughter to your eyes. Good times.

Bugger, so close!

There was drama before we even got to Brands as a rear blowout on our Transit whilst in the middle lane of the motorway certainly woke everybody up! Annoyingly we were only about 10 miles from Brands Hatch and 1 mile from our motorway exit when it happened so it was a job to be done on the hard shoulder. Of course the wheelnuts were so incredibly tight it broke our breaker bar, the jack was buried in the back of the van and when we did get it out, it barely got the Transit high enough to get the spare on (we had to let it down) But we got there in the end and hoped that would be the only problem we’d have this weekend.

Must be fast, it’s got orange headlights!

Sunday morning and it was a hot one, not a cloud in the sky and temperatures that would have the drivers sweating! Speaking of drivers we had a strong 21 car entry for this meeting, including Ross’ old 206 which was back after it’s first meeting smash and Richard Smith who was out in his very pretty, very new and very untested Mercedes SLK.

A drivers eye view of the scrutineering queue

Scrutineering was passed with no issues but the noise test again revealed the car to be a bit on the loud side so we’ll have to do something about that for the next meeting.

Out on track in quali with Philip Blackford (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Out for qualifying and the warm temperatures were the perfect conditions to see if the changes we’d made to cure our overheating issues had worked. We can happily report that they did indeed. Not so happily the car seemed to have developed a rather inconsistent tail happiness which was puzzling as we hadn’t made any significant adjustments since Rockingham.

Somebody shut that door! (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Back in the pits and the cause of the problem soon revealed itself with a loose bottom ball joint which was letting the front left wheel flap around wherever it felt like. Probably not for the best. So, with the front suspension tightened up we headed out for race 1 where Ross would start 11th

“Nevermind the car, you’ve broken my chair!”

Despite being better than in qualifying the car still didn’t seem to have the traction we were so happy with at the first meeting which was very confusing as we couldn’t remember making any changes to the rear of the car! On the plus side the brakes were starting to inspire some more confidence after some more changes since our last outing.

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Back to the race and Ross had to fend off Chris Ayling in the first couple laps before getting past Neil Jessop with a good old fashioned ’round the outside’ hotrod move at Paddock with a little mid corner leaning that had Ross eyeing the gravel trap for a split second!

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

A couple laps later and Ross had caught and put the same move on Ricky Hunn (feels odd just typing that) with the rest of the race being spent chasing Mark Fuller. Despite best efforts the #26 Tigra couldn’t quite get closer than 4 or 5 car lengths so it looked like being 10th place at the flag.

Ross must be trying hard, he’s gone all blurry 😉 (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

That was until Mark started running out of fuel on the penultimate lap which promoted Ross to 9th, a couple seconds behind Mike Thurley and 8 seconds ahead of Chris Ayling in 10th. Up at the sharp end Matt Simpson took the win, Chris Brockhurst second with Malcolm Blackman just holding off David Brooks for 3rd. You can watch race 2 on Youtube by clicking here.

Lap 1 of race 2 (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Race 2 was a very close fought and it has to be said, hugely fun affair! From 9th on the grid Ross was lacking a bit of grip in the first few laps (we must start cleaning those tyres between races again) and was running 10th in a busy train of cars caught up behind Lewis Smith who was running 3rd / 4th but losing oil and making the race very interesting for those behind.

Spot the 2nd car in this photo? (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Being unable to get past Chris Ayling ahead cost Ross a place as Mark Fuller made his way past him and then rubbed salt into the wound by getting past Chris and leaving Ross at the back of the train! That was soon put right soon after though with #26 getting a good run through Graham Hill Bend to make a move along the Cooper Straight. A lap later and Ross took advantage of Mark making a pass on Ray Harris at Druids to follow him through into 7th.

(Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Ross spent the rest of the race trying to get past Mark Fuller which while being great fun proved fruitless with there being no way through. So it was 7th at the flag, just behind Mark Fuller and Mike Thurley and just ahead of Ray Harris and Chris Ayling. Good fun.

Finish line (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Congrats to Malcolm Blackman who took his first win from Chris Brockhurst after Matt Simpson went off at Paddock with a problem. Simon Smith took his first podium of the season in 3rd.

Poor Neil Jessop had major problems, luckily he was okay (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

That’s it for this time then, we haven’t got long to make some alterations to the car as the championship continues at Lydden Hill on June 21st….let’s get cracking!!!

Hmm, best change that…

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