Snetterton 300 Formula Vee – 12 & 13 September 2015
As soon as I’d slithered around the first few corners I was finding cars going much more slowly than I felt I could go. All doubts gone as I dropped into the zone, I pulled out past them, opting to feel the track out at my own pace rather than take the safe option of following someone else.
After the torrentially wet Silverstone test day, I though I’d learned nothing – but maybe it had helped me. I had a lot of confidence in the car, and it was only when a car spun in front of me that I panic braked, locked the front, put a wheel on the grass, and around I went.
It was no drama, and in the 5 laps I had to qualify, I spun another 3 times – still managing to clock the 15th best time of the 22 cars listed!
Above all, I found it great fun! The times themselves weren’t worth much with massive differences making it a bit of a lottery, and I thought I’d most likely drop back in the dry for race 1.
After an ok launch the start line, I found myself up with the experienced drivers Martin Snarey, Tony Mitchell and William Stenning, when things settled down. I was up to 11th on track but then started to drop down the order, as I wasn’t able to find much speed through the first corner and most of the infield section.
After losing about 4 places in one lap (I left it in 4th gear through the infield – doh!), I gave myself a mental slapping and watched the cars in front, braking later than wherever they were braking, and soon began reeling them all back in.
I swapped positions with Tony and Martin until they both got past me again. Tony went a bit wide onto the back straight, and I got a good exit to pull out of his slipstream and outbrake him (and nearly myself!) and made up a lot of ground on Martin.
The lap before I’d managed to get my front wheels alongside Martin into Coram, and this time I thought I’d see if I could complete the move. Getting a good run through the Bomb Hole, I closed in on Martin and seeing I had room kept it pinned in 3rd around the outside of him on the dirty line.
I caught him totally by surprise and flew past, skating sideways into the braking area and just about pulling it back into line to get around the left hander onto the main straight still ahead.
Feeling pretty chuffed with myself, I then saw the chequered flag was out!
I’d snatched an ecstatic 12th place – which then became 11th after Graham Gant was excluded for being under the weight limit. By far my best result, and more than I would have ever hoped for in my second race meeting!
Massive thanks to Tim Probert and the Vee Centre for organising the free BBQ on Saturday night, too – I got to relax and chat to a lot of the other drivers and their crews over a can of beer and great food. This kind of event is especially brilliant for us shy newbies, who struggle to match up names to faces and then match them all up again with the cars and helmets on track! I’m trying to get around all the drivers for a chat, but that’s almost as hard as the racing side of things!
Race 2 saw Snarey fly off ahead but left me in a battle with Wes Burton as I watched Tony Mitchell and William Stenning scrapping it out ahead.
I didn’t push anywhere near as hard as I should have at the start of the race, and although I was 5 seconds per lap faster, everyone else was even quicker!
Wes’s engine sadly blew as he slipstreamed me down the pit straight, leaving me trailing the two ahead.
I got up to a decent pace on the last lap, finally catching Tony and reaching the finish line 0.05 secs behind him to finish 17th overall of the 19 finishers.
This might look disappointing on paper, but I drove much better, and at that pace I should have been in the big gaggle fighting for 11th place again, if I’d gone harder at the start.
More importantly, I still enjoyed it and came away happy!
To keep this short(er), I’ll do another blog with my full post-race analyses.
ONBOARD VIDEO FOOTAGE: