Sorry that this blog has been so long coming! Unfortunately the major dramas that make up Real Life came into play, and my usual best escape of racing failed as that all turned out disastrous, too.
That said, it was brilliant getting away for a few days to hang out with the other Vee drivers. I know a few of us have some huge things going on away from racing at the moment, and hope the distraction of racing helps them as much as it does me.
After 6+ hours on the road, we arrived (early for once!) at Croft – one of my favourite circuits from last year. After the many hours spent fixing (and de-gravelling) the car since Brands Hatch, the brief was to keep the car safe and just get some points back on the board.
I hadn’t done the sort of prep that I should have – watching videos, playing simulators etc – so started somewhat steadily in qualifying. When you’re not 100% sure where to break and turn in on every single corner, it’s amazing how much it adds to your lap times.
The car felt good, but then someone dropped oil around half of the lap on the fastest section all the way back to the finish and a few cars had spins.
As ever, I’m enough of an idiot to enjoy a bit of oil, but obviously with oil down from the 2nd or 3rd lap this meant all those who’d practiced the day before got much faster laps in before the track was ruined. I actually put my quickest lap in on my final lap, despite lifting off to let Adam Macaulay and Ben Miloudi through on flying laps – so at least knew I was doing something ok!
I did lose the lap before with a huge minger of a drift that turned into a spin, though…
I qualified a mediocre 17th and 16th – but with James Harridge blowing another engine and Jamie Harrison losing all power this still put me 2nd in class right behind Colin Gregory for both races. The first class win was in sight!
With another fast start I pushed a few places up the grid off the line, having to lift for a few slower cars but still making good progress.
I got ahead of Mark Egan up the inside of the first turn, but then into the sharp Turn 2 I knew I could either get aggressive and perform a really harsh block pass on Mark, risking taking us both out, or back out as safely as I could, making sure I could hold the tight line around the corner. This would mean Mark disappearing on the exit, but I could live with that for now..
Unfortunately, Mark then cut hard across to the apex, I assume having not seen me, and leaving absolutely no room for me.
I slammed on the brakes even harder and got a nudge from behind from Peter Studer – but it was already too late and Mark’s right rear wheel slammed into my front left.
This broke the steering link, and as my wheel flapped around like some sad, dying fish, I was at the mercy of the rest of the field as I veered across the track and off the side to retire.
I was not happy.
Then, just as I got out and stood at the side of the track, it started thundering. Yeah, thanks for that.
The car was carried back on a crane, and some hasty bodge repairs made ready for the next day. As we were making a start on it, Ian Rea spotted the impact had ripped the front beam off the chassis, stripping the thread and bolt holding it on.
Gary Richardson kindly helped get the set-up as good as we could, but with camber, castor and toe all a bit wonky (we had to try and even things out by re-adjusting the good side!) I could tell I might have to drive around the faults for the second race.