A new day, and the sun was shining once more. I was starting from a decent position but wouldn’t really find out what the car would do until I hit the first corner at race speed – not great when the brief was yet again to try and keep the car safe.
On the warm-up lap I gave the car a bit of a slide into the second turn and could tell straight away that things weren’t right. Added to this, the steering wheel wasn’t pointing straight, so my thumbs and stuff were in the wrong places.
As I sat on the grid psyching myself up, I looked down to find my magical rev sweet spot to get another demon start. What I found was the turned wheel was hiding my rev counter!
I looked back up and the start lights had already gone out and I’d missed it!
I recovered fairly well, but with the random handling I stayed well wide through the first few corners so I didn’t end up hitting anyone else as I worked out what the car was doing.
The car didn’t want to turn in at all, and then the understeer snapped from no grip overall to oversteer and back to understeer seemingly at random through the corners.
I was dropping backwards down the grid and couldn’t seem to do anything about it!
Sam Engineer spun off causing a red flag – then we were held for ages before being put back in some weird grid order where I dropped back even further. Then Tim Probert caught fire a little bit, and we had to trundle around on a third slow green flag lap.
In between wondering if I’d catch fire, whether the engine would blow up in the heat, and if I could get the car to restart for the 37th time they moved us 20 yards forward, I told myself that the handling was all in my head, and I needed to give myself a slap.
I got a much better restart, and was all over the back of Colin Gregory for second in class (Jamie had already blown by me in the first start as I struggled) as I threw the car at the track as best as I could – not happy but not giving up!
I couldn’t take any of the usual corners flat out, and needed a big lift to get the front turned in through Barcroft, still missing the apex by a few feet.
This put me slightly wide on the exit, and as I straightened the steering wheel on instinct ready to brake hard from flat-out, I forgot a crucial thing…
Straightening the steering wheel with the repairs meant I was actually steering slightly to the left.
This put my left rear wheel just onto the grass as I slammed the anchors on, and the back wheels made my best overtake of the day on my front wheels. I was suddenly on the grass, backwards, on the right hand side of the circuit and the air pressure even opened my visor and I did what I could to stop taking Colin out as he turned right into Sunny In.
I changed the angle of my spin enough to miss him, but there was no way I could stop the car coming back across the track. Luckily we’d been pulling away, and Bill Garner was next on the scene with some nifty avoidance as he locked up and managed to avoid me as I rolled along the outside of the track trying to restart.
Crisis averted, I was now dead last and trying not to succumb to the red mist.
I locked up into the hairpin then got back in control and dropped back into the zone as I gave chase to Ian Rea.
I was still hammering an unpredictable car as much as I could, but had to dial it back a few notches as there’s no point crashing when you’re at the back anyway…
I slipstreamed past Ian out of the chicane and chased down Martin Snarey and the 6 car chain ahead.
It was taking an agonisingly long time in my head to make any progress, but I clawed past Martin on the start straight, and as I closed on Peter Cann saw Vaughn Jones spin up ahead.
Before he had chance to recover back to speed I squeezed around him almost on the grass and then the short 3 lap restart was given the chequered flag. I salvaged a 17th place finish, but had been expecting top 10 at a track I love and the car is suited to, so it was hard to get too worked up about.
It was an exciting race overall, but still a total disaster for me in the big scheme of things. Hence why I haven’t had the motivation to write this up (or the time!) until now.
As Anglesey approaches, I’m in a slightly more positive frame of mind again. If Real Life allows me to, I’ll prep better for this one, and approach things the same as I did for Oulton.
Hopefully this will be the one where I can show off the cars true potential. I’m at least going to try and enjoy it!