Finally the start of the season arrived! It was time to racing again. 🙂
THE WEEK BEFORE!
I’d done quite a bit to the car over the winter. The engine had been out and refreshed, all the shocks had been off and serviced by Leda, I’d got a new gear stick to try and I’d finally got round to doing lots of other little jobs like painting the exhaust with high temperature paint. Unfortunately I ran out of time to paint the outside. Under the bonnet looks lovely, but the outside of it doesn’t look quite so hot!
The week before the first race was manic. I put the engine back in and put the car back together (with a bit of help from Richard! – Thank you) the next day I took the car and had it rolling roaded. Then I took it so see Mike Topp and had it set up and corner weighted before finally taking on the 750mc test day!
Mean while I was trying to run my business. I was driving the car places during the day then trying to work at night and sleep in between! I was also trying to run my Kung Fu club and sort the Lorry out for the start of the season. In the end my friends gave up on seeing me at normal times and took it in turns to drop round at random times of the day and night with sandwiches!! (thank you guys, your great!)
The morning of the test day dawned and I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel. I had to run the engine in gently and stuck to 6000 revs but the car sounded lovely and as usual was handling very nicely. By the afternoon I’d done 35 laps and the time seemed right to slowly up the revs. Bizarrely my times didn’t really change. I put it down to a lack of sleep and not wanting to over rev the new engine. Here’s the car in action at the test day.
Finally it was race day. I’d signed on, signed the forms for running a video camera and the car had passed scruitineering. I headed out on to the track in the sunshine…this was what all the hard work was for!
Qualifying was great fun. My times weren’t that quick (I’m not great at qualifying) but I managed for once to get a good tow and was back on track with 36 other locosts. 🙂 When the official times came out I was 26th fastest. The top six went straight through to the final putting me 20th on the grid for the heat.
Lining up on the grid my nerves started to disappear, I couldn’t wait for the lights to go out. Eventually they did. I got off the line well but then missed third gear! Doh! Should have practiced starts with my new gear stick arrangement! I lost four places but got my head down and thought I’d soon be able to make them back up and I’d have a lot of fun doing it. (I’m usually much better in races than qualifying) Bizarrely though instead of going forwards back up the field I was slipping further backwards. I gave myself a good talking to! It didn’t work! I could catch cars by keeping my foot hard down round Gerrards but as soon as we got on to the straights they just drove off and left me. Maybe I wasn’t carrying enough speed out of the corners. An extra effort which seemed to involve lots of wheel squealing and oversteer only managed to give me another tenth. I was still dropping down the field. It was so frustrating. I now thought I was dead last ( I was actually 24th due to other people having their own dramas ahead of me) but I certaintly wasn’t going to give up! Unfortunately my car had different ideas and coming out of the hair pin on lap 8 my throttle cable snapped. All I could do was coast on to the grass and watch the rest of the race from behind the barriers. I was gutted!
The marshals and recovery service were brilliant and deserve a big thanks for looking after my car so carefully as it was pushed of the grass and towed back in – Thank you.
Obviously for the final I was only a spectator but I found a good spot at the top of the control tower and watched a fantastic race. I wanted to be out there but at least I got to see some brilliant racing, a new lap record set and some personal best finishes for three of my friends.
POST RACE THOUGHTS
It was bound to happen eventually! I’d had 25 starts and 25 finishes last year, eventually it had to end and Mallory was destined to be my first DNF. Much more worrying was the lack of power. My times this year were within a tenth of last years. Not that bizarre until you reflect that last year it was snowing and it was my first ever race! Something was very wrong! As I type I’m still not sure what it is, first guesses are a problem with the dizzy. The rolling road have very kindly taken the car back free of charge and promise they’ll have it fixed for Donington…. I’ve got everything crossed. I love Donington!