“It’s been six months since the last meeting, why are we still running around finishing the car on the day before the first meeting of the new season?”
So once Ross had finished work on Friday, and we’d finished up all those last minute jobs you’d completely forgotten about until the car gets rolled out of the garage, we were loaded up and ready to make the longest journey of the season. On the plus side we did have our new race van which did eat up the 300 odd miles between sunny Devon and windy Snetterton in Norfolk rather faster than the old Transit! Still, it was gone 9pm when we arrived so after a quick tour of the pits we found a quiet spot in the corner to park up for the night and get some much needed sleep.
Come on Betsy, time for your 19th season! (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
After a surprisingly chilly night we were grateful for a bit of sunshine on race day morning as we wedged ourselves into about the only space available in the crowded paddock. I’m not sure why it was so busy really as we only had a disappointing entry of 15 cars but it certainly was! Although it was a shame to start the season with so few cars, there are plenty more joining us at round 2 so it should be a good sized grid for the rest of the season.
(Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
Either that’s a funky camera lens…or we’ve got problems! (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
We had an hour or so break after passing through signing on and scrutineering which was just as well as we seemed to have even more last minute jobs to do to the car, damn things are never done! Looking around the paddock and it seemed quite a few people were running around fettling their machines so we certainly weren’t the only ones. Simon Smith and Chris Brockhurst had only just finished their cars in the days leading up to the meeting after complete rebuilds, Chris’ car in particular looking stunning in its new livery. Also looking good in new colours was Lewis Smith’s Tigra, while Daniel was back in the ex-Keith White Corrado. Another returnee running around looking busy was Tommy Field, the man to beat from several years back. Elsewhere in the pits we had Philip Young, Richard Smith, Chris Ayling, Dave Brooks, Malcolm Blackman and Mike Thurley in familiar machines, with Paul Adams another welcome returnee after his disastrous prop failure at Donington last year. There may have been some other cars too, to be honest we only pay attention to the orange and black one 😉
The best place in the world!(Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
And we’re in! (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
10:30 and the drivers made their way out onto the circuit for qualifying where it was immediately apparent who had been lucky enough to make it out for testing on the day before the meeting and who hadn’t. Those who had were on it and away, those who hadn’t (that’ll be us) were trying to blow away the cobwebs and re-acquaint themselves with the Snetterton 300 layout. Ross completed a few gentle laps to bed the new tyres in and try to get a feel for the car which felt like someone elses car after all the recent changes. Not bad, just different.
Still looks pretty out on track (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
The red flags came out mid-session which gave Ross a chance to pop into the pits to have a loose door fastened. With the session back underway it was back out on circuit for just enough time to get a couple more laps in (long 3 mile laps on this layout don’t forget) with Ross starting to feel the car a bit more towards the end. There wasn’t enough time to get down to a representative laptime but it was the same for several of the drivers and with the smaller than usual entry we weren’t too worried to start ninth after posting a best lap of 2:05
Turn one is faaast (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
We made a slight set-up tweak before race one to try and cure some understeer through the two midfield left handers. Meanwhile Ross was busy cursing at his new mirrors, which although lighter and more aerodynamic than his previous ones, were about as much use for seeing what was behind you as strapping a teaspoon to the side of the car. They will be going in the bin before Rockingham. One useful tweak since our Llandow test was a very effective airfeed in the drivers window, we like successful tweaks.
Damn you Rafal! 😉 (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)
So then, tweaks complete and it was time to form up on the grid for race one. After all the build-up, the expense, the hard work, the travelling, the blood sweat and tears lavished on the car over the preceding months, it was time to go racing. The green flag flew as the front row men set off on their warm up lap, then Ross’ Tigra cut out. Expletives from #26 but the car just fired back into life as the cars in front moved off with Ross setting off after them with a massive boot full of frustrated throttle. Half way around the warm-up lap and the Tigra cut out again, only to restart once Ross had dropped to the rear of the field. Hmm. With the car running Ross took the start from the back of the grid and managed to make up four or five places during the first half lap before the car cut out for the final time, race over. Bloody racing cars.
Problems (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
Back in the pits and we set to work trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the car, a task made much more difficult as the car now started and seemed to run fine. Prime suspects were the fuel pump and electrics but everything in that area seemed fine, but then the car was working now, they probably would seem fine. After much head scratching it seems a piece of fuel line may have broken off from inside the line and was intermittently blocking the pump. Probably. If it happens again at Rockingham we’ll revise that. But it was almost certainly that. Probably. :-/
Yes, Brian can get in the passenger side. No, he can’t really get out! (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
Okay then, back out for another go in race two where Ross was joined at the back of the field by Philip Young who retired from race one with a puncture. There were a few nerves about the car but everything seemed okay on the formation lap and all thoughts about reliability were long forgotten as Ross was embroiled in a properly exciting race over the first few laps. We won’t go into a ‘blow by blow’ because this is already a horrendously long update and you can just watch the video of the whole race here. (Apologies about the small incar camera which must have gotten knocked when we were frantically prodding the car before race two!)
(Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
Suffice to say Ross was feeling more comfortable with the car and was enjoying being in the middle of a gaggle of cars squabbling over second place. (It must be said, aided somewhat by the reverse grid holding up a couple of the faster drivers, but if we can pass Malcolm Blackman, even briefly, we’ll have it)
In the mix (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
It all went wrong mid race though as a few of the cars ahead slowed each other up a bit going through the midfield left hander of Agostini. Chris Brockhurst was up behind them and slowed up not to run into them, while Ross caught himself out completely and went piling into the back of Chris which sent them both spinning off onto the grass and into clouds of dust where they were joined by several other cars.
Oh cock (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
Fortunately no real damage was done and everyone re-joined, although by the time Ross had fired the car back up and re-located the track, most of the others had buggered off!
Calm down… (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)
…calm down! (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
#26 spent the rest of the race chasing down the other cars but was too far behind to make up many places, despite frustrating fleeting glances of the others on the infield sections! Probably over-driving it in a couple places but a best lap of 2:03.2 compared pretty favourably to the majority of the field, especially as there was some more time in it. It didn’t compare to Lewis Smith though it must be said, who was busy storming away at the front to his second win of the day. Malcolm Blackman took another second place to back up his second place from earlier while Simon Smith turned his day around with a podium. Good drive too from Steve Burrows in fourth. Ross finished back in seventh, rather wanting to start the day over. You do get days like that though, and we’ve got a few tricks left up our sleeves for the next meeting at Rockingham on May 16th, let’s hope it’s enough!
(Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)
He’s gonna blow! (Thanks to Clive Marchant / GridArt for the photo)
Oh, almost forgot to say we got a free tyre at the trophy presentation, bonus!
Everyone loves a freebie! (Photo used courtesy of www.barcsoutheast.co.uk and Rafal Biniszewski, thanks!)