Arriving in Anglesey on a sunny Friday afternoon, there weren’t many places I’d rather have been!
After the long but beautiful drive through along the Welsh coast, and past the mountains of Snowdonia, we arrived early enough that Ben Miloudi kindly let me jump in for the last test session of the day – something I haven’t ever done since my first race!
I was going easy on the car but still managed to get comfortable on a quick pace, so would be dialled in for once as soon as I hit the track the following morning for qualifying, assuming the car felt good after the Croft problems…
I was able to get straight on the pace, and the car felt good. The test session had given me my confidence back and I knew I could trust Glenn’s work as usual.
I was able to push the car safely, losing the front a few times but without any drama on what was one of the most grippy tracks I’ve ever driven on!
I qualified 20th and 17th – but this really didn’t do it justice, as the first 25 cars were covered by 5 seconds and first 20 within 4! All the fast guys were out and on it – including Graham Gant coming out of hiding for the first time this year to grab pole!
In B class, the usual aliens – James Harridge and Jack Wilkinson – were way up the front, but the rest of us were all packed together with very close times. Tim Crighton had done excellent to head the best of the rest putting his Scarab a few rows ahead, but everything was set for an epic B class battle.
With the sun still beating down on us (for once!!), I took it a bit too safely on the start (not wanting a repeat of Croft!) and let a few cars past me, tucking in behind Vaughn Jones, Martin Snarey and Dave Leniewski.
With 2nd gear selecting perfectly this year, I drove out of the tight Rocket corner and took Vaughn on the inside of the next turn, hassling Snarey over the line before making a move on the exit of my favourite corner – Church – and holding him off down the back straight as I set my lights on Leniewski.
I wasn’t making much progress on him for a few laps, and there was still a pack flashing left and right in my mirrors, until Leniewski went oil surfing through Turn 1 and spun. I squeezed past and Snarey just stayed clear as well, but it gave me enough clear track to pull a gap.
Unfortunately I found the same oil on the very next lap, getting very sideways but holding it. I did smile as I came out of the banked hairpin and looked across to see Leniewski do exactly the same thing again! The ol flags finally came out after that, so we were all a bit more tentative through there for the rest of therace, but at least there was no damage done!
Meanwhile, I’d seen James Harridge pulled off the track with more engine problems, Tim Crighton and Jack Wilkinson were well ahead somewhere, and then I felt a pang of excitement as I realised the car I was catching was Colin Gregory, who must be 3rd in B class.
I caught him quickly, selling him a dummy around the outside at Church before cutting back inside and using his tow to blast past down the back straight.
Snarey soon joined the party, with the dark shape of Ross Price looming in the background.
Gregory dived up the inside of me on the brakes into the banked hairpin on the last lap, and I again cut back, this time taking the inside as we were both flat into Church.
With wheels inches apart, I again tucked into his slipstream and got that extra boost to pass down the back straight, this time driving defensively whilst watching Snarey trying everything he could to get past Gregory.
I punched the air as I crossed the line, picking up the final B Class podium trophy – but above all bringing the car home alive and untouched after a great scrap and pushing as hard as I ever have!
I’d finally got the car so on edge that one end or the other was moving in almost every corner, so I knew I was driving well.
Again, the overall result of 14th doesn’t really do me justice, as I was less than 3 seconds per lap off the winners (Pete Belsey) time, so well up there!
And other than gripping the wheel through the first corner harder than the Incredible Hulk, I was pretty relaxed about it all!
After a meal in the cafe and a twilight track walk, I was feeling good about the second race…