Exhale

Its not just about racing

There’s something about Silverstone, the grandeur, the history, the reputation, that affects me. I turn up, get in the car and drive like a muppet. Last time we were here I span on the first lap. This time, well I’d lost it twice by the time we limped over the start finish line with a trail of broken cars in my rear view mirror.  That last bit, I hasten to add, was nothing to do with me - it seems like I’m not the only one who is fooled by the width of the track into thinking more cars will get round a corner than is actually possible.

All that, was following Qualy, where it became clear my car was possessed. Really. The throttle response bore little or no relationship to the input from the right foot. A go faster instruction would cause the engine to die for a moment, cough, and then explode in a flurry of revs (often accompanied by the rear end of the car volunteering to lead for a bit). The opposite happened when coming off the throttle…basically nothing. Revs would stay high for a second, two seconds maybe ten. Great for pushing out the boundaries of braking points, but not hugely fun in the wet. McMillan swapped lots of bits over, but couldn’t correct anything. Finally Ben put some tape over the throttle idle valve thing, and cranked open the idle screw. Not an idea solution, but safer than a random engine.

The restart of race one was a bit better. Briefly. I got a reasonable start, kept it together for a whole lap, before fluffing a gear change and running wide at Becketts. Daryl had spun in front of me, and just as I thought I was going to avoid him, he found some grip and..well…watch the video.

Normally - about here, I would include the video, however, Silverstone have draconian measures (£25k fee) if videos “appear” on the internet…so if you would like a copy, mail me.

Stunningly, McMillan were able to put it back together again and I was out for race two. Unfortunately, the cameras were also out, batteries died, the front one before the 1st corner, the rear a few laps in. My race consisted of outbraking myself at Brooklands, making it all the way through the gravel, and out the other side, apparently to a round of applause from the assembled crowd in the BRDC stands, over the grass and rejoining (eventually) somewhere between Luffield and Woodcote. Quite a good cross country expedition, but not time saving: no hamilton-esque penalty! I spent a few laps playing catchup with the pack in front, then had a good scrap with Roger, the James’s, and eventually Hugh, who had taken a similar trip to the Brooklands gravel, but had been assisted out by the marshals. Actually Hugh kind of went past us like a knife through butter…

Not one of the better events of the season for me really, and time and work pressures are probably going to keep me from Mallory at least.

Seems like the less I test, the worse I get. No surprise there. Having only booked 2*25 minute test sessions I was disappointed to lose the 1st one as I was blacked flagged off after my wing decided to remain on the beach at Paddock Hill Bend. Luckily, I got the car out, and avoided red-flagigng the session for everyone else.

Nobody’s timing equipment seemed to be working reliably, times were all over the place for the second session making it difficult to learn what was fast. The same applied to the qualy session: If my lap timer had been believed I would have been 5th…I was not happy that the results sheet had me at 17th!

Come the race, a cracking start saw me gain a few places, and some great side-by-side action with Tom ensued, until Paul Turley went off in front of me, and I followed just behind. Not sure why either of us went off to be honest! The rest of the race was mediocre at best and I was not in the best of moods afterwards!

Anyway, enjoy the video, now with EgoCam.

Roger in the carrotsBlimey. That was fun. My return to Snetterton following last years mess was nothing if not eventful. Testing was unusually on Saturday, and with two sessions booked in the morning I set about trying to shake off any fears. Seems I shook them as my times seemed to be up there, and Roger Ford suggested “Grey Good, Green Bad” after the second session. Coming from Roger (later found in the carrot field! - see picture) thats saying something.

Qualy was wet. My last wet qualy, where I changed nothing on the car setup was awful, so this time, I changed everything, and removed all the roll bars and added a couple of PSI to the tyres. P6. Wow. That seemed to work.

Race 1 was so wet, its hardly worth publishing the video, because you won’t see anything. My plan was just to stay on the track, not worry too much about losing places, and hopefully end up with a bunch of points. Finished 11th. Happy.

Race 2 on the Monday was dry. Roll bars back on and engage attack mode. Started from P10, ended up P7. Happy! There were times I was higher than that, and times I was further back. A last lap incident in-front of me gifted 3 places, but those are the breaks. More to the point, I nearly had a repeat of last year, this time caused by me: I went up the inside of David Shaw just as he decided to close the door into Russell. This blew my braking for the chicane, and I tagged Tim Go. Luckily we all got away with it.

Lord MarchLast night was the BARC AGM at the RAC club in Pall Mall. Not a lot to report other than Lord March’s presence for the 1st time in years, and the fact that we got through the entire proceedings in 15 minutes, then headed to the pub. Hurrah!

Next: Snetterton commeth…this weekend. And boy am I looking forward to it. (that was sarcasm by the way!) You may remember what happened last year but probably not my visit to the COC the year before (on the test day!!!). Both times I was following Mike Rowland at the time of the incident. This time Mike hasn’t entered. I consider that to be a good sign. Sorry Mike - hope to see you soon, somewhere else!

So. Challenges for the weekend - in order!

  • Don’t crash
  • Don’t spin in the race
  • Don’t get hit by Shunty
  • Don’t get hit by anyone
  • Don’t get sent to the COC
  • Avoid the qualy race
  • Run at my “new” pace…not my old one!

I’ll be awarding marks out of 7 later.

Once again the Monkey drives like a monkey.  A damp qualy session was as slippery as one of the ice-lollies that seemed strangely appropriate in the afternoon.  I failed to find space, even when I dropped back I’d catch everyone up after half a lap and I never made myself a clear run.  Qualified P17.

When the lights went out I found 1st, 2nd and 3rd gears, and worked my way up from 17th to 10th place by lap 5.  Chris Rome and Ben were about 3 seconds in-front of me and I was concentrating on catching them, seemingly making time by monstering the Esses and Bobbies.  Unfortunately Bobbies bit, giving me a nice view of the rape field, and time to contemplate my driving while the entire field went past, before I could safely rejoin.  Combe 1, Monkey 0.  Seeing the final outcome of Ben v Chris, its not such a bad thing I was safely half a lap behind by then!

Roll on Snet.