Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Oulton

Oulton Park. What a fabulous circuit.

In the name of cost-saving, I'd only booked the 50 minute "Grads Special" testing at lunchtime on Friday. Unfortunately with a couple of incidents that seemed to take forever to clear up, we only ended up getting about 15 laps - in damp weather at that.

I thought this might seriously compromise my qualifying, as others had a lot more practice in better conditions, but I needed have worried. I qualified in seventh place (again), which I was more than happy with. Mind you, the qualifying was incredibly tight, with less than a second covering fourth to seventeenth place. My second-best lap would have left me a lot further down the list.

At the race start, I sat with my clutch close to biting point as usual. Must have been a bit too close, as the car crept forward a foot or two. Then when the lights went off I got a blinding start.

I was in fifth place for much of the race, until Jos threw it off at the Knickebrook chicane, promoting me to fourth. In sight of the podium! I had a few goes at passing Mick Whitehead in front, but he seems to have the widest car in the country and in the end I decided it was safer to stay behind.

The pack spread out mid race, but by the end we'd compressed up again and I finished the race in fourth place, less than four seconds behind the leader, Trev Newman.

I was ecstatic with this placing, but then I discovered I'd been given a ten second penalty for a jump start, which dropped me back to seventh place.

The jump start penalty was fair - it had been a slightly rolling start - but nine times out of ten that would have been forgiven - it's not like I actually went for it before the lights had changed.

Still, seventh place is still pretty respectable, and leaves me in seventh place in the championship.

Oulton video

Next stop Pembrey. Can't wait!

Mallory

With my previous disappointment at Cadwell, I was hoping to do rather better at Mallory. I've always liked Mallory (on four wheels, I hated it on two, mainly because of the stupid "bus-stop" chicane) and always done pretty well there.

Practice day was actually a track day, so rather full of road BMWs (and, it has to be said, Academy 09 drivers) doing 5mph round the hairpin and blocking many of the potential "legal" overtaking spots. In the end we took to overtaking round Gerrards, but nobody objected.

Ah, Gerrards. What a fantastic corner. Mallory may be short, but frankly if Gerrards was the only corner I'd be happy. Light touch of brakes, sling it in and get on the power. The corner goes on forever, and if you start understeering, then a quick lift brings the back round in classic "lift-off oversteer" style.

Qualifying went pretty well and I finished in a very respectable seventh place.

The race didn't go quite so well. I got bulked a bit at the start, but then managed to take several places back at the hairpin each lap. I love the way people try to protect the inside line into the hairpin, and end up up queueing behind each other as you go sailing down the outside to take the proper line. So this was going pretty well until I came hurtling round Gerrards to find Alan Harber with his brakes on hard. I swerved to miss him, which put me in a spin before I'd even reached the grass. After that I was a passenger, and went into the armco a little further up.

Alan had braked because they'd just put out the red flags after an incident which saw an unconscious Dylan Stanley parked on the racing line just a few yard ahead. Although I couldn't see the red flag from where I was, I had to my shame missed the waved yellow at the post before.

Fortunately my damage was limited to a busted radiator and nosecone. Dylan was fine after waking up, though somehow or other Steve "Shuntie" Humphreys managed to break his arm in the same race.

Video of the start until my crash here.

Cadwell

Cadwell didn't go that well. My cunning plan didn't work for a variety of reasons - like me forgetting to put the memory card back in the datalogger. Cadwell's full of slow corners, which I don't really like, and in qualifying I was over-driving through most of them and sliding way too much on the exits. Qualified a disappointing 16th, and given that it was Cadwell and overtaking is near impossible, finished very little better in 14th.