Busy day at Donington


Qualifying at Donington and Joe is reading the live quali timings via TSL Timing.
“Ross is currently 16th”
“Hmm…”
“Still 16th…”
“….I haven’t actually seen him come past for a while”

Mobile phone rings and it’s Brian from the other side of the circuit

“Have you seen him come past?”
“Nope”
“Bugger”

Before the break down. Spot this weeks visibal changes on the bonnet and rear bumper. (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Ross was in fact already sat by the side of the track thinking that the whole weekend was over, having ground to a halt after only completing three laps of qualifying. With the session over and after a quick tow back to the pits we were very relieved (although a little frustrated) to discover the only problem was a dodgy bit of wiring and a blown fuse as a result. At least it was a quick fix and not the engine failure we’d first feared. (Drivers note – sudden loss of ignition at 100mph and a high compression ratio really feel like the engine has tightened up)

So, with the weekend not over we had race 1 to look forward to. Even if we did have to start from the back of the grid. Without knowing the track. Hmm, oh hell, we’ll just wing it.

The awesome ‘Craner Curves’ on lap 1 (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

So, off into the blind and #26 spent the first couple laps dabbling with a few cars before starting to make up places. Despite all the missed track time it was starting to go really well and Ross was amazed how quickly he could close down some of the other cars…on the corners he’d figured out at least!

The old hairpin, that’s a corner to get your attention! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

By the end of lap 4 Ross had passed Mike Thurley into the final chicane for 9th place and had a run on Malcolm Harding as they exited the chicane. Hard on the power, grab 3rd, back on the power but no drive, just an almighty scream as the engine pings straight at the limiter. Argh, missed a gear, have another go. Another screaming engine but no drive. No, there’s no 3rd gear in there…4th ….no….hmm….. Feed the power in gently, ah, a sideways kick, one wheel drive, well at least we’ve got a spare halfshaft in the van, lets just get out of the way before we get driven into.

That’s a messy tool box (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

So after meeting another bunch of lovely marshals (half way down the Craners on the left hand side, hi there if you’re reading!) it was another tow back to the pits. Unfortunately we didn’t have a Paul this weekend so Ross and Brian set to work on the car while Bev was promoted from ‘Tea Lady’ to ‘Tool Fetcher and Jack Holder’

You’re never safe from Rafal and his camera. Great shot! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

The drivers side halfshaft was indeed broken and it had of course left most of itself wedged in the diff (and no amount of magnets on sticks were getting that out) so we now had to very quickly swap the diff over as well. Which does also mean removing the undertray and tailgate / rearwing for access. And there’s nothing anyone loves more than scrambling around under a boiling hot racecar whilst wearing a load of fireproofs. Can still smell the diff oil now. Typically the timetable was much tighter than usual and there was only an hour between getting the car back after race 1and leaving the pits for race 2 but we managed it with a minute or two to spare!

Race 2 start, we made it! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Right then, back of the grid. Here we go again. A good first corner for Ross made up a couple places but then he got boxed in going down the Craners and decided against any hasty first lap moves. There was a quick ‘hello’ to our old 206 as Ross moved past round the outside of McLeans before passing Philip Young on the inside at Coppice. Chasing Simon Smith down the back straight Ross got an early christmas present as Ricky Hunn bounced over the chicane in front and knocked Simon wide on the exit, leaving a Tigra sized gap for Ross to take 10th place at the end of lap 1.

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

Lap 2 was spent closing the gap to guys infront whilst realising that the car was definitely missing some of it’s edge from race 1, still not too shabby though. Lap 3 and Ross was into 8th after passing Mike Thurley at Coppice and right on the back of a great fight for 5th which was being headed by Chris Ayling with Malcolm Harding, Ray Harris and now Ross in very close attendance.

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

#26 squeezed up the inside of Ray Harris for 7th at the start of lap 4 but despite some great close racing from the four cars, no more positions were gained until the end of lap 6 when Malcolm Harding took a dive up the inside of Chris Ayling at the final chicane which had them both bouncing through the gravel, promoting Ross to 5th and Ray Harris to 6th.

Up to 5th (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

That was about it for action in race 2. With the top 4 having long scampered up the road, Ross was left to cross off the last few laps before finishing in 5th Matt Simpson took his second win of the day, Lewis Smith was a racy 2nd to back up his 3rd in race 1. Malcolm Blackman took 3rd in race 2 after problems in race 1 while Chris Brockhurst was an uncharacteristic 4th after his runner up spot in race 1. Chris Ayling rounded out the top 6 a few seconds behind Ross. You can watch race 2 on Youtube here. Although there is some wonky camerawork going on! Don’t worry, they’ll be moved around before the next meeting at Lydden Hill on October 4th.

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

That’s all for this time then. It was nice to visit a new circuit and we certainly hope it’s on the calender next season. Without the problems and with a little more track time it could have been a very competitive weekend. Still, that’s racing, and on the bright side we’ve definitely found a few areas where we can improve the car before next time. It’s all good! Don’t forget you can catch highlights of this meeting on ‘Last Lap’ on Motors TV, September 10th.

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