BRANDS HATCH Race 6

 

With my car sporting it’s new nose and radiator it looked very posh (mainly thanks to Richards efforts painting my new nose cone the night before the event) I booked testing on Friday to check the set up and make sure that there were no other gremlins lurking after the adventures of Castle Combe. There weren’t and I had a good day’s testing slowly bringing my lap times down.

 

Qualifying

At Brands slip streaming seems to make a huge difference to lap times and I spent my whole qualifying session looking for a really good tow. I never quite found one but even without it my times weren’t too shabby and I qualified 22nd out of 39, with the top seven going straight through to the final this put me 15th on the grid for the heat. Again my aim was a fifteenth place finish meaning I needed to make up seven places over two races, a decent but very do-able challenge.

 

The Heat (Started 15th, finished 13th)

I was on the inside of the grid for the heat close to the pit wall and although I got away from the line reasonably well I found myself boxed in when we got to paddock hill. There were Locosts seven abreast across the track and it was hard to know if I was gaining or loosing places. I was loosing them and by the end of the first lap was 18th. The pack was really bunched up and by the end of lap two I was back up to 16th. In gaining the places I joined a massive 12 car group, every corner seemed to be taken four abreast and three deep, great fun down paddock hill bend! A new order would emerge as we exited each corner only to change as we met the next. It was fantastic fun and probably the closest racing I’ve done (apart from trying to climb over Glenn’s car). At the end of 14 laps I crossed the line 13th.  I went in to the race aiming to make up three or four places and I’d made up five unfortunately I hadn’t counted on loosing two at the start! Great fun thought – loved it!

 

 

The Final – Part 1 (Started 20th, finished 14th)

Starting on the outside of the grid and determined to make a better job of it than earlier I had a blinding start. I was on fire (and not like at Snetterton 06!). I made up several places off the grid then rocketed off, taking three more on the first lap. My good run continued and I flew up the grid. Gary Brandon going even quicker got past and although I was disappointed to loose the place, I’d been joking with him before the race about getting a tow up the grid and now it looked like it might happen. By lap four I’d reached fourteenth and was glued to Gary’s bumper intent on seeing how far I could get up the pack. This was the highest I’d ever run in a Locost final and it didn’t look like it was going to stop here. (How wrong can you be!) I was over the moon and loving this race, it made up for dodgy performances in the wet and at Lydden I was finally going to win some decent points…actually no I wasn’t for at that moment the red flags came out!

 

 

The Final – Part 2 (Started 15th, finished 20th)

 

Everyone was shuffled in to the positions they’d been in a lap earlier, I was waved past Gary and Karen but then a few cars were slotted back in higher up. This put me in 15th on the grid. Unfortunately I was now back up against the pit wall but I was a good way up the grid and things looked positive. As the lights went out I got of the line badly panicked and in my haste to put things right missed every gear, suddenly I had a box of neutrals and Locosts passing me on all sides. Gutted! By the time we reached the first corner I’d plummeted from 15th to 23rd! What an idiot!

 

I got my act together and by the flag I’d made it back up to 20th and set my personal fastest lap but still felt a prat. ;-S

 

So it was with a twentieth finish I left Brands Hatch, I had to smile though, I might have made my most disastrous start to date but I’d also climbed the highest I’ve ever got up the grid and if I’ve done it once I’m sure I can do it again!

 

Photo: The car looking posh with it's new nose cone and me in my new suit (a birthday present from my Mum and Dad - the last one was set on fire and then doused in hot oil unfortunately both times whilst I was in it. Proof that nomex really works!)