Leading at Lydden

“Sorry sorry sorry. I know this Lydden Hill update is a little slow but the 9 days since the Lydden Hill meeting have been an all out rush! First off that awful work thing has been in the way and many hours have needed to be put in there to pay for the racing! Then the car has been taking up the rest of the time as our mad development push to get to the front of the grid continues. Yesterday i’ve just finished laying up 4 new super lightweight panels to replace the last of the chunky ones on the car and hopefully get us down close to the weight limit! Brian has been busy adding a return to the back edge of the bonnet to keep the scrutineers happy as well as doing some head scratching on our noise problem. We’ve also got another screen to change (who wants to buy us a good lexan one for £450! Or even better, a full kit for £950) and we’re having a very close look at the finer points of the suspension set-up. We’re so serious we’ve even resorted to tape measures, angles and equations, we will win dammit! Anyway, here’s how we got on at Lydden! Cheers, Ross”

Lydden Hill, home of rallycross, Brian and Mr.Cheese’ favourite circuit and a real grab your car by the scruff of the neck (do cars have necks?) and chuck it around sort of place. Also the fourth round of this years Quaife Intermarque Championship.

I may have been stealing images

The always slightly long winded journey from Torquay to Dover was made all the worse for the team this weekend as thousands of hippies (well they are!) were decending on Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice, making our normal route completley grid locked and unusable. We therefore took a massive detour to instead sit on a completely different but also completley gridlocked motorway for several hours instead. After 6 hours we were glad to finally roll up at the circuit, pitch the tents and fire up the BBQ. Happy days.

Are we the only ones here?

Ross and Paul enjoyed a wonderful nights sleep in their tents with pretty much a whole field to themselves on the outer edge of the circuit. The rest of the paddock however spent most of the morning swapping stories about how little sleep they’d had. Score 1 for the tent people!

Ross appears to be in despair for some reasom in the scrutineering que while Brian rocks a chequered flag hat!

After scrutineering the 19 car field made their way on track for qualifying and with the session being only 10 minutes long everyone was on it from the word go. Ross’ usual smooth style seems to drift further and further away (pun!) as this season with the Tigra continues as he resolved to drive round all handling issues with copious amounts of right foot! It’s not that the car was awful but a frustrating turn in understeer which was then followed by oversteer was costing precious time and at a track like Lydden where the times are so close and overtaking so tricky you really want to get as high up the grid as possible!

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

One thing that was clearly apparent to everyone present was that our attempts to quieten the Tigra down had failed horrendously to the point where it drowned out just about every other car on the track…..did sound epic though! Needless to say we’ll be making major changes for the next meeting. It’s just lucky this meeting also featured some of the nosiest formulas you’ll ever see including sprint cars and Camso V8’s, otherwise we’d have been on the way home a little bit early.

“Quick, shove a baffle up it’s arse!”

With the session over we found ourselves 8th on the grid which was better than expected. Lydden always throws up a few surprises and this time was no exception with a different looking front row from normal in the shape of Lewis Smith and Simon Smith. Matt Simpson would line up 3rd but it was Chris Brockhurst who’d have all the work to do in race 1 after a problem in qualifying left him in 19th.

Race 1 formation lap (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

We made a few small changes to the car before race 1 and it wasn’t long before the busy 19 car grid was starting the race and diving into turn 1. A small touch between Simon and Lewis at the front sent Simon spinning to the inside as the pack behind scattered in avoidance as they made their way around Chessons drift for the first time. Ross came flying through the middle of the melee to move into a clear 3rd, right on Matt Simpsons bumper as they turned through Devils Elbow. There were then a few expletives in the #26 car as the red flags were brought out and a full grid order restart was called for! Especially as everyone made their own way clear of the track anyway.

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

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

So, a few minutes later and the reformed grid were underway once more. No dramas this time but still a very busy first couple laps and a lot of dicing between Ross, Chris Ayling and Steve Burrows who was looking much more competitive in his second outing with the Intermarques. A few laps in and Ross had taken advantage of some ‘moments’ to run in a clear 7th place but found the car to be ‘going off slightly’ as the race wore on which meant more understeer on the way in and a few ‘uh-oh!’ moments at Chessons Drift. Dave Brooks was no more than a second or two ahead in 6th for the whole race but Ross was unable to close the gap completely and ended up losing out to a fast finishing Chris Ayling who certainly had plenty of speed left at the end of the race.

8th place at the flag then but this was to become 7th as Dave Brooks rather bizarrely picked up a 5 second penalty for track limits. Click here to watch race 1 on Youtube.

“What shall we change then?”

Brian goes to work on adding a little more rear wing

Much head scratching followed back in the pits and we eventually settled on another 3 subtle changes to the car for race 2. Well, we’d only drawn pole out of the hat with Malcolm Blackman, Chris Brockhurst and Matt Simpson lined up behind us….seemed like a perfectly sensible time to change it all! 😉

Lets get ready…

…to rumble!

Chris Ayling joined Ross on the front row and the pair barrelled into the first turn on lap 1, each determined to snatch the lead and leave the other one to deal with the pack behind. With the inside line Ross powered ahead through Chessons Drift and was straight onto a good pace as he led a fast starting Lewis Smith over the line at the end of lap 1. It was all a bit hectic but the few changes did seem to have made the car a little better and Ross led until the end of lap 2 when Chris Brockhurst moved past on his way to the race win.

Leading into the hairpin on lap 1 (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Lap 4 and a locked brake at turn 1 let Lewis Smith through down the inside into 2nd position but Ross recovered to hang onto 3rd in front of Simon Smith. The pair had a good race up until lap 8 when Simon got turned around at the hairpin and dropped down the field.

Looks like we’ve got ourselves a convoy! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

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

This allowed Matt Simpson up into 4th and with the Smith incident having broken the field up a bit Ross decided not to fight off Matt too hard and drop himself back into the rest of the pack but instead go for 4th. However, if he’d known Matt was nursing an overheating engine he’d have thought twice about that! Still, with the handling going off slightly a safe final few laps to 4th place is a great result for our still pretty new car. Click here to watch race 2 on Youtube.

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

No doubt a few drivers were off to see the stewards after the race but at least all the cars made it to the end with minimal damage. Behind Ross, Chris Ayling took 5th, Dave Brooks 6th, Steve Burrows 7th, Kurt Russell rounded out a good day in 8th ahead of Malcolm Harding and Ray Harris completing the top 10.

With our improved number of race entries this season, 4th place was enough to give Ross a trophy at the prize giving, our first race trophy since leaving oval racing! A bottle of bubbly was also waiting for him as reward for being ‘Driver of the Day’ Very nice, a trophy on the dashboard always makes the journey home better. Here’s to going one better next time!

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