Race Video (130MB Streaming Windows Video)
Ah, Silverstone. Britain's premiere race track, home of the British Grand Prix. But when we go there, a desolate wind-swept wasteland: surrounded by massive grandstands, all of them closed.
I couldn't make the Friday test day, so had to go up for a three-hour open pitlane session on Thursday instead. Unfortunately it was wet (and VERY slippery) all afternoon. Most other people got to test Friday when the weather was great.
So no dry practice before qualifying, but never mind. Get out there and drive hard from the word go - hopefully by the end of the session you'll get some speed. Sadly not to be. When I first went out, the engine wouldn't rev past 5,000 rpm. It gradually improved, but it wasn't until the last two or three laps that it would pull cleanly all the way through the rev range. Afterwards Andy Mac diagnosed water down the spark-plug recesses - and sure enough he was right. Note to self - when leaving car parked in race paddock for two days in rain storms then check those resesses! My best lap left me in a lowly 21st position on the grid. To add insult to injury, my best mates Chris and Charles qualified in impressive third and sixth positions respectively. Ah well, get a good start and see how it goes...
Well, that didn't work either. With the red lights on I found myself pulling forward, so I dipped the clutch to re-find the bite point - just as the lights went off. Damn! No chance of gaining a bunch of places from the start then.
I shan't go through a blow-by-blow account of the race, but it was really intense. 39 cars on the grid (even though we were told Silverstone could only take 38 - what are you up to, BARC?) - and they're mostly very closely matched, in terms of driver ability as well as car performance. We were three or four abreast much of the time, and overtaking was really tough. I was gratified to find myself catching up with third-place qualifier Chris Rome, but then less pleased when I realised he seemed to be having power problems.
At one point there was a big incident and I could see a car right up in the air. I concentrated on avoiding the wreckage and didn't think much more about it for the moment.
Wings were coming off everywhere. I had a big thump at one point which knocked the car sideways, but fortunately it didn't seem to do any damage.
Later in the race I managed to get past Trevor Newman. He's a novice from last year's Academy, but he qualified and finished second at Combe. I reckoned I was on to beat him until he made a brilliant lunge up the inside at the final corner when I was being held up by a sliding Mark Gregory.
Finished in 14th place. Not as good as I'd hoped, but a reasonable five places up from qualifying.
It wasn't until some time after the end that I realised Charles wasn't with us. The reasons for this will be clear from his blog.
Now only a week before the double-header at Snetterton. Amazingly, it looks like Charles's car will be ready in time for it. Chris, myself and Trev are heading for the dyno on Wednesday night to see whether their cars are really down on power as they claim, or whether they were just driving like wusses.