So near at soaking Lydden

“It looks like the Batmobile”
“Well, I always wanted to be Batman!”

With the penultimate meeting of the Quaife Intermarque Championship taking place at the tight and twisty Lydden Hill circuit we’d decided to make a few additions to the Tigras bodywork this meeting with some extra rear wings and front flips. Plus being quick bolt on pieces they might make an appearance when the going gets wet!

Difficult to spot all the extra bits in the pics (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)

We had one eye on the weather forecast all week leading up to Lydden as we faced the possibility of our first wet meeting for over a year, and our first with the Tigra. There was no sign of rain on the Friday however as we made our long and winding way to the circuit. Five and a half hours this week in the van that refuses to die despite recent talks of replacing it!

(Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)

With everything set up for the weekend Ross shocked the car by giving it a wash before we had a quick walk around the circuit in the last of the daylight. We then settled down for dinner before turning in for the night. There may have been a bit of noise in the paddock but it was blissfully silent in the camping area behind race control as Ross had pretty much a whole field to himself, the only visitor being an interested fox which came sniffing around the tent at 2am!

(Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)

Saturday dawned dry but overcast as we headed through the usual morning routine of cornflakes / tea / signing on and scrutineering. With all that behind us it was time to get out on circuit and have some fun! As ever we’d made a few changes to the car and Ross was certainly busy during qualifying as he completed substantially more laps than anyone else with 19 in total during the 15 minute session.

The Tigra looking stunning at Chessons Drift (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)

Unfortunately despite all his effort and gravel teasing fun the fastest lap came on lap 4 and that was only good enough for tenth on the grid. Despite improved braking performance, an inherent understeer in slow speed corners and a lack of traction off the slow speed corners was costing time so once back in the pits we had a bit of a think before throwing a load of changes at the car. Game on!

Discussing changes to make before race one (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)

A very busy first few corners in race one saw the midfield runners incredibly bunched as they headed towards the hairpin. With so many cars vying for the inside line Ross rolled the dice and threw it down the outside as the drivers braked for the hairpin Fully expecting to run out of track on the exit Ross was amazed to find just about a Tigra’s width of the black stuff left after some very fair driving from Simon Smith.

Getting hairy down hairy hill (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

This did of course mean Ross was racing down the hill towards Paddock on the outside of a whole bunch of cars, not a great place to be. Oh to hell with it, this isn’t knitting. Left rear wheel kissing the gravel, some fair driving from everyone and a large slice of luck and #26 was away and gone up the road in sixth place at the end of lap one.

Let’s get a move on! (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)

The changes made before race one had helped the performance somewhat and the only car to re-emerge in the mirrors was the Z4 of Simon Smith. A couple of laps in and Simon made a big move down the inside at the Devils elbow (what a great name for a corner). It turns out Simon was having a recurrence of the brake problems he suffered with during qualifying as he went flying past Ross and the corner, just about avoiding a trip to the gravel as Ross cut back to the inside on the exit to retake sixth place.

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

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

Sixth became fifth a few laps later as Chris Brockhurst retired from second place with a puncture. Despite having no pressure from behind Ross couldn’t quite find enough grip to bridge the gap to trio of Blackman, Brooks and Ayling in second, third and fourth places.

That kerb is too big to go driving over (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)

The threatening skies finally came into play during the final few laps with a few drops of rain at first which turned into a gentle shower as the drivers took the chequered flag. Fifth place, a handful of seconds away from second place at the finish from tenth on the grid with the car still not right. We’ll certainly take that. Click here to watch race one on Youtube.

At speed (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)

Once back in the pits the heavens well and truly opened as everyone dived for cover under various gazebos and umbrellas. Talk about good timing!

“It keeps the rain off but I don’t think I can hold it and drive the car”

Several rain filled hours later and the cars were making their way out onto track for race two, wets all round this time! With the top ten finishers from race one being reversed it promised to be a real lottery of a race in the atrocious conditions. Ross spent the two warm up laps trying to figure out how much grip the Tigra had in the wet, although in truth with the warm up laps being headed by a van there wasn’t really much information being gathered!

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

From the outside of row three #26 made a decent start, holding position down to the first corner. It was three wide at Chessons drift as Ross slid round the outside of pole man Neil Jessop while Simon Smith relegated him on the other side. It seemed that the grip level was pretty high although perhaps Ross was getting a bit carried away as tried to get the power down coming out of the hairpin in his haste to get round Philip Young. That was the least of the problems however as the windscreen wiper had stopped working. It turns out that the wiper had just come off the bottom of the windscreen and had gotten stuck which no amount of cursing and flicking of switches in the car was going to fix!

And that’s where the wiper stayed for the rest of the race (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Onto the second lap and Lewis Smith led from Jason Hunn with Ross squinting into the spray in third. It was clear that the Tigra was working far better than the 206 ever had in the wet but a complete lack of visibility was frustratingly halting the charge. Instead of going after the leaders Ross had to leave a bit of a gap to be able to see anything and after a few laps lost out to Simon Smith, well, he does always go well in the wet.

Really must spray that odd front left wheel (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

It seemed everyone else had dropped back though so Ross was quite happy in fourth position which became third again as Jason Hunn had a grass tracking moment up ahead. Laps passed, surely this was going to be our first top three finish! Lapping the backmarkers proved problematic as getting anywhere near another car made it very difficult to make out the track but things were still going well until the familiar colours of Matt Simpson and Malcolm Blackman began appearing in the misted up mirrors. Oh no, not again!

Not third position for much longer then! (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Looks like hotrod racing here (Photo used courtesy of and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)

Ross held them off for a few laps which included a few dicy moves through the traffic but in the end he lost out to the pair on the last lap which was a little gutting, although in truth it’s difficult to defend a position when you can’t see where you’re going or where you’ve been! Up front Lewis Smith took a great win, eight seconds clear of Simon who was a further four seconds ahead of Matt Simpson, Malcolm Blackman and ourselves. Mark Fuller and Chris Brockhurst took sixth and seventh, Philip Young converted his first front row start into eighth while Malcolm Harding and Dave Brooks completed the top ten. Click here to watch race two on Youtube.

(Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)

Two fifth places at the end of the day then. After qualifying tenth we’d certainly have taken those results and the pleasing thing was that the areas we’ve worked on have improved. In truth we need the winter break to really get on top of our inherent front end problems but it’s still going well. It’ll really fly next year!

Next up we have our season finale at Brands Hatch at the start of November. We’re hoping to end the season on a high, a podium finish and confirming our fifth place in the championship would be very nice please!

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