Well it seems like only yesterday we were getting back from Pembrey, but last weekend saw the team on the road again heading towards Brands Hatch for this years American Speedfest meeting! We’ve been racing at the Speedfest since its first year and it continues to grow and grow, and when we did finally arrive on Friday evening after a nightmare 7 hour journey, Brands was already looking busy and ready for the weekend ahead…with added ‘American-ness’ everywhere you looked 😉
Thankyou, thankyou very much… (Thanks to Graham Holbon Photography)
After a good Friday night catching up with our racing families, we got some sleep ready for the weekends racing. Saturday morning saw us pass through signing on and scrutineering with no issues before Brian headed out for qualifying at 11am. The forecast hot weather had already arrived as the 19 Super Silhouettes hit the track and began to chip away at their laptimes. After our 3 finishes at Pembrey last weekend had rather finished off the tyres we started the season on, Brian was on a new set for this meeting and looking comfortable on them as he improved to a 51.839 on his last lap to qualify 15th of the 19 cars, a good start to the day! Chris Brockhurst bounced back from a disappointing time at Pembrey to take pole ahead of Malcolm Blackman and Ian Hales.
At speed! (Thanks to Graham Holbon Photography)
As Brian was happy with the car we just had to refuel before race one which was on Saturday afternoon. Engine problems had unfortunately ruled Ray Harris out of the rest of the meeting while Ian Hales was demoted to the back of the grid, so 262 lined up 13th on the grid for the first race, which then became 11th at the end of a good first lap and 10th at the end of lap 2 as Danny Hunn retired. Good start!
(Thanks to Graham Holbon Photography)
Despite losing out to a recovering Ian Hales several laps in, our race was going very well with Brian showing a good turn of speed and keeping a gap to the chasing Mark Sear, Homewood, Blackford, Steward and Young, while not dropping too far from Ricky Hunn who was next up the road.
(Thanks to Graham Holbon Photography)
Into lap 13 and Brian was still looking comfortable in 8th place until the car started smoking heavily on the left hand bends, and as bad as it looked from outside the car it was ten times worse inside with the car filling up with smoke to such an extent that it was impossible to see ahead until Brian began taking the left hand corners more gently for the final few laps. It looked like it was going to be a retirement but Brian managed to limp the car home for the final 5 laps, losing up to 5 seconds a lap but still hanging onto 10th place. So, frustrating in a way when 8th place was looking on with Brian only 12 seconds away from 4th on lap 12, but a finish was a miracle in a way so we’ll take it! Malcolm Blackman took the win from Chris Brockhurst and Steve Burrows. You can watch our race on Youtube here.
Back in the pits we got to work on the car, which was dripping in oil…..lovely. On the bright side we did have plenty of time to clean it up and fix the problem as race 2 wasn’t until Sunday afternoon! From a quick look at the car it was evident pretty quickly that the oil catch tank had filled up and then overflowed, with the smoke then starting as the loose oil burnt off on anything hot it could find.
Precautionary head gasket change. A small water leak turned out to be a rusted out core plug which was hiding behind the exhaust gasket.
What wasn’t so clear is why the tank had filled up when it had been empty to start with. We had several theories and made changes to the car once we’d cleaned it…but the next day showed that all those theories were in fact wrong as we suffered the same problem very early in the race, resulting in an early retirement. Up at the front Malcolm Blackman made it 7 wins from 7 races this season but he was made to work for it by Chris Brockhurst who felt hard done by in this one.
That’s the Speedfest done for another season then, and we now have a few months off with our next meeting not until July 28th at Mallory Park. We love a visit to Mallory and work is already well underway on the car which we’re confident should be all fixed and problem free again for the day.
Happy racing everyone.