Just one week on from Silverstone and we're out again at Snetterton. I thought Silverstone was bleak and windswept, but when we got to Snett on the test day there was a howling gale. I'd missed the first half of the testday, due to a problem with a hospital appointment and someone from MSV who was confused about their refund policy ... but let's not go there. So only two 50 minute sessions - oh, wait a minute, they've reduced them to 45 without telling us. Allow for the inevitable stoppages, and the fact that my front right wing kept making a bid for freedom, and I doubt I got more than 40 laps in the whole day. Should be enough - after all I'm no stranger to the track - but I'm a slow learner and like to get a full day's practice in to get my confidence up to full boost.
Qualifying (full details from MST)
Snett's a long-ish circuit, but with 41 cars on track it wasn't exactly easy to get a clear track ahead. It was pot-luck, really. Some people got balked the whole time, others got enough space for maybe one or two good laps. My only decent one was the very last. And it wasn't that decent - 1:23.25 was only good enough for 13th place on the grid - 0.89 seconds off Andrew Ennis's pole.
Charles and Chris were well down the grid - Charles still getting his head together after his roll at Silverstone, and Chris with his engine rather poorly. Fellow 2004 Academy Bods and Northern Gits Jamie Bashall and James Sykes were in impressive 4th and 5th positions respectively.
Race Video (48MB Streaming Windows Video)
Bit of a race of attrition, this one. The video only shows about half the race, because the cameras came loose half way through and started bouncing around in the boot (oops). Memorable moments were Toby locking up his brakes on the first lap and nearly broadsiding me, and John Parker being so determined to outbrake me into Riches that he forgot to take the corner. Had some great scraps with JP earlier on, and James Sykes and pole-man Andrew Ennis later on. I made some decent progress through conventional overtakes, but to be honest most ground was made up by simply staying on the track while most of the people in front of me didn't.
I'd made it up to 6th place by the penultimate lap. Then David Shaw spun off, and I was able to get past James to make it to 4th place by the end. Yee-hah (as I understand they say in the colonies) what a result. My best result yet.
The race was won by Andrew Vickers, with Charlie Hunt and Andrew Fletcher close behind.
In bike races, grid position for race two is generally taken from the finishing position in race one. Sadly that's not the case for us, and having only got one decent lap in qualifying, I was back down to 17th place on the grid for race two.
A good start was essential. Unfortunately I had Toby in front of me. Toby's a pretty quick driver, but seems incapable of getting a decent start. True to form, he stuttered away and I just avoided driving into the back of him. Somehow, though, he must have got past me, because I was treated to a grandstand view of him and John Parker tangling wheels and spinning off together at Corams. Finding a gap to dive through was tricky, but I managed not to get involved.
It was never going to be easy to make up the places needed to get a result like Saturdays, but I made sure it wasn't going to happen by spinning off at Riches. The race was fairly spread out by then so I only lost a couple of places, but I'd lost a lot of time and any hope of catching up the front runners. My excuse is that my tyres were going off, and had I fitted some new tyres I'm sure I could have won the race (yeah, right...)
Trevor Newman won the race, from Charlie Hunt and Andrew Ennis. But Trev had managed to avoid Russels chicane completely on one of the laps, gaining two seconds, a demotion of two positions, and three points on his licence. Probably not worth it, I guess! I came in 12th.
But here's the good bit - I'm in third place in the championship! OK, it's not really real - the only reason I'm up there is because I've scored points in all the rounds, and they're not yet counting "dropped rounds" in the table. But still, the fact that I've finished all four races is quite an improvement over my previous years' form.
Cadwell is next, 28th May. I've got new tyres fitted and raring to go, and this time I'm going to do a full day's practice. Cadwell is really tough for overtaking because it's so narrow. That means qualifying is critical, so I need to really get my proper "race head" on for qualifying - something I've been lacking a bit in the past. But I really can't wait to try!