I was confident going into the second race, pretty sure I had more speed in me even as the day grew hotter.
I was still really learning the track as I went, and had noticed some of the Irish like Jimmy Furlong were taking were totally different in places to what any of us UK guys were doing.
I got away ok, but Steve Ough, two rows ahead had stalled on the grid. I had to make a split second decision and threaded the needle between him and the pit wall armco barrier on full throttle. It’s probably best not to think about how I actually made it – I guess I’ve filtered through tighter gaps on my bike, though!
I was right behind Sam Engineer and Rik Lanyi and held a tight line to follow Sam out of the hairpin.
My Class B rival, and the car leading that class (with James Harridge out with engine problems) was Bill Garner – and he was just up ahead.
For the first time ever I dropped to second gear for Bridgestone, hoping to get more pull up the steep exit and onto the next straight.
A few cars ran through the dust causing everyone to bunch up again as I caught Sam into the final turn, and Rik dived down the inside and didn’t have to drive up and down the grass bank, as if taunting me!
I suddenly had bigger problems, though, as I was in fourth gear instead of second, the engine chugging away off cam and me going nowhere as I fished around for second gear.
By the time I got any gear at all I was only half way down the pit straight and the entire field had passed me and gone through the first turn. When I finally got there it happened all over again, and I lost even more time trying to find gears…
I knew I still had power, and third gear worked. I could just about get around in third everywhere, so decided to attack the empty track and at least try and catch someone before the end of the race.
Unfortunately things got worse as I then lost fourth gear, and then couldn’t find third again. I pushed on trying not to change at all, knowing it was pretty much all over…
Surprisingly, I did catch Rik (who had managed to spin at the last turn!) and then caught and pass ed Dave Wallis, who was struggling with the track.
With Sam Engineer limping it home with engine problems I was catching him hand over fist, with Rik also looming in my mirrors – I took at pretty futile last corner dive at Sam but would have needed just one more corner to pick him off before the finish.
This left me in eleventh place overall, bagging another second in Class B – proving it pays to push on even if you have major problems!
I could see straight away that a nut had come loose on the gear shift assembly, so also knew it was an easy fix. I’d pushed my body about as hard as I could with the actual racing still not hurting my broken rib any more, but with constant pain from whatever I did I was starting to struggle.
However, with the gear problem fixable for the Irish Vee Festival races the next day, and having dropped my lap times by more than two seconds, I decided to enter. I was never going to win anything, but it would be good to put in an appearance to show my support for the Irish lads.
With us missing out on the free BBQ by working a bit late on the car, we headed to the local ‘chipper’ for a very tasty burger, back to see the auction raising around 7000 Euros for Laura Lynn Childrens Hospice, and a few pints with the drivers and crews.
Incidentally, the night before we’d been to the local pub and had some amazing food there, too along with lively banter with racers and locals. And found you CAN get six people into a Nissan Micra hire car if you use the boot.
I’d invested in an inflatable mattress for the night to try and support my ribs, but didn’t really sleep as the slightest movement left me wide awake in agony, but I got enough rest to think I’d be able to have a crack at the Festival…