Sunday, 10 April 2016

Oulton Park April 2016 and the start of my new adventure in Class R

Thought i'd revive my blog and do a very brief update on what happened to me at Oulton Park. 
Given what happened to many others I came away lightly with no damage so from that point of view it was a good weekend. However my first outing in class R didn't go exactly to plan. 
Qualy was ruined for me by two things. Firstly the misfire that we thought we'd fixed came back. I don't think i ever got the revs into the green. Then I got myself in a right old flap with my new helmet. The visor was steaming up and I couldn't see a thing.
So I did my 3 laps (actually 4 I think in the end as i lost count!) and came in.

So back of the grid for race 1 which was still wet. Still had the misfire so I tootled round at the back trying to stay out of everyone's way. Not much fun.

So Tim got his wiring diagram out and had a go at something that he thought would fix the misfire. Obviously we couldn't properly test if before the race so I had to just give it a go. Thankfully race 2 was dry. It was clear from the off that the misfire was cured and I started to gain some places. I think I got 5 or 6 places before the first red flag. I just caught the back of that incident and had only a minor nudge from behind as a few of us arrived at someone else's accident. So the restart put me back at the back. Second time round I gained 7 places before the second red flag. I was starting to gain some pace which gives me some confidence that I'll work my way up the grid a bit more next time.

So, as I say, not a great weekend from a performance point of view but at least i came away with everything in one piece and the misfire fixed. Looking forward to Brands now.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Cadwell 2014 : Title decider

Well I didn't exactly make it easy for myself.
With 2 races over the weekend, all i needed to do was stay ahead of Dave.  I even got a 3 day pass from home to go testing on the Friday. That went great. Got my times down into the 1:35s so quite respectable and boosted my confidence.

So, to cut a very long story very short, I messed up big time on Saturday. Dave won and I ended up 3rd, meaning he was 2 points ahead of me. That meant i had to win on Sunday to guarantee the championship.
So most of the rest of that day was pretty tense to say the least. I was definitely not enjoying the pressure!
Of course all the nerves melt away once you're on the track and Sunday's race was a blinder. The video is here.

 I got into the lead at the start but Austen was hounding me constantly and did get past me after a couple of laps. Luck was on my side though and on that very lap there was a red flag. That meant at the restart I was placed back in front as they take the places for the restart from the positions you were in as you last crossed the line. So this time I was more determined than ever to stay ahead. It was all a bit of a blur but I somehow managed to stay ahead. I was being held up by Tim H (class R) who was quicker initially but had backed off from his own class battle and was now backing me into Austen who was looming very large in my mirrors.
I think I crossed the line a matter of 10ths of a second ahead of Austen.

I must admit to filling up a bit on the way back to the paddock. Boy was that a good feeling. I needed to win, and I did. Awesome.

So, after a season of 12 races I've ended up with a podium in 11 of them (one DNF) including 3 wins, 6 seconds, 2 thirds, 4 fastest laps (one lap record for 24 hours!). I'm so proud to have achieved this, and of course I have Tim Gray to thank for building such an awesome car, keeping it reliable, and for nurturing my medioce driving ability into a championship winning performance.  Cheers mate!

So what, I hear yousay, happened to my champioship rival, Dave. Well sadly, although I didn't realise it during the race, Dave crashed out after an incident with my team mate Richard Wise having been running 4th. I am of course aware of the controversy surrounding this and I realise that it looks and sounds very much like a conspiracy to take Dave out of the race on purpose but I also know for certain that that was absolutely not the case. Richard would never do that and neither I nor Tim would not want him to. I do understand though that Dave was angry about it and I can only say that I am really sad that it happened and truly wish that it hadn't. I must thank Dave for his sportsmanship this year, and all his MNR team mates for their help over the season.

So, what now?

Well we'll see, but with a bit of luck (and a bit of 'man maths' with the finances,  I'll be back for more next season!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Anglesey and Silverstone International

So I've missed the Rockingham weekend due to the family holiday. I know, I know. Such lack of commitment. Bad planning on my part, but I didn't know I'd be leading the championship when I booked it did I!

So Anglesey was up next for me and I go into this still leading my class championship.
Only my second time to this track, and my record here is not good. It's a great circuit. With its banked corner, lots of undulation and spectacular scenery it's certainly interesting. Last time out here I was taken out on the first corner of the first race, and only managed a couple of laps of the second race before my bonnet came off, so I can't say I've got this one nailed.
I also had no chance to do any testing this time so I was straight into qualifying.
Do you see what I did there? Got my excuses in early.

Anyway, I qualified only 4th in class, which was disappointing. Unlike at Snetterton, I was struggling a bit with the car's handling this time.  Nevertheless, that recurring theme of a little good luck helped me out although sadly at the expense of Stevie Bell. I was running third with one lap to go and Steve lost it on the last corner of the last lap, just yards from the finish line, and hit the pit wall. I'm ashamed to admit that my first thought, as I saw him reversed into the pit wall by the finish line, was 'is he over the line or not?', not 'is he ok?' Which of course he was. So I inherited 2nd. Jammy bugger.
I just beat my nearest championship rival, Dave Watson, so keeping me in the championship lead.

For the second race we'd adjusted the rear dampers to make the car oversteer a bit more, which it certainly did.  However I couldn't keep with Austen / Dave Watson battle in front of me and finished a respectable but slightly dissapointing 3rd in class. Dave won that one so narrowed my lead a bit.

So I went to Silverstone with an optimistic spring in my step.

I was supposed to do some testing for this one, but only managed to get a 1 hour session which I promptly cocked up by breaking my gear linkage. I borrowed someone else's half hour session later in the day, but that had two red flags so I didn't get any useful track time. Still, at least I didn't have the gear linkage break in the race!

Qualified in 4th again. Not great, but I knew I could go faster. I've got Tim and Richard Wise to thank for their wise counsel on where to gain speed, which worked a treat.

Race 1 was a great battle. Got past Dave Watson early on, and then had a battle with Colin Spicer who was quicker than me on the Hanger straight, but overdid it a bit into Stowe and I got past. I was then chasing down Austen, but had to settle for 2nd.
I was pleased with that as Austen has missed too many races this year to be a championship rival, although he does have an annoying habit of beating me!
I was particularly pleased to have got the fastest lap of the (class) race which gets me an additional point, but it was also the lap record. I could enjoy that for at least 24 hours.

Race 2 - well, probably the least said the better. It lasted 28 seconds! I got a great start, but at the first corner , doing about 90mph or so, I got involved in someone else's accident, which quickly turned into mine. I was hit twice. Race over. Oh and I lost my lap record to Austen. Hey ho!

So here's the thing. My championship now goes to the last 2 races at Cadwell. Dave Watson is, allowing for the best 12, 3 points behind me with 32 points to play for. It could all go wrong yet. There are loads of combinations of things that could happen that I can't even think about it, except to say that, wherever we finish, I've got to beat Dave Watson. Given his recent form that is by no means a done deal. So it's very, very close and extremely exciting. Whatever happens at Cadwell, I'm probably going to get very very drunk afterwards!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Silverstone and Snetterton

I won't try to build the suspense. For most of you it will be old and rather boring news anyway. Silverstone brought my first class win. Woohoo!!!

This, as you might gather, is a big deal for me. Like I've achieved a major lifetime ambition.
In fact, i'd go as far as to say, the proudest moment of my life (oh, just to be clear, in case my wife is reading this, that does not include my marriage, and anything that my daughter has ever done!).

Anyway, enough of the gushing. Here's what happened.

I was up at Silverstone on the Friday for a test session. Good job I did really 'cause the clutch was still not right. Tim and the guys fettled away trying to fix it, but all we could do was get the car running for a few laps, after which i might as well've not had a clutch pedal.
We ran out of time to do anymore for the race day so we just had to hope that it would all hold together for the racing.

It didn't.

Still, even struggling with the clutch, I managed to qualify 2nd in class (just 5 thenths off Paul Rickers' time) and 4th in the second race.

Sadly Paul broke his engine in qualy and was out of it. Dissapointing, as I have been measuring my performace against him and I was getting close to him at Doni.

Still, as it turned out, Steve Bell proved to be my main rival this time.
The video is here if you want to watch it.

 It was exciting stuff.  Steve got ahead early on (I reckon I got slowed by Paul Rogers' whereas Steve was a bit further back and missed it). I then got involved in a class R battle which put some space between Steve and me, but I then caught Steve and got passed him round the tight hairpin. Then, using his pesky driving skills, he got me back again and despite some serious hussling, he stayed ahead to the line. We were tenths of a second apart across the line.

 Great stuff, and equalling my best result ever (discounting the technical class win when Al Boulton got disqualified), but somehow I felt I should've won it as I had the pace, but failed to translate it into a win.

Still, there was always the next race.

This time I was further back on the grid in 4th. I managed a blinding start and was ahead by the first corner. I'd also worked out how to change gear reasonably smoothly without the clutch. The car felt great and I just went. Following in the wake of the class R cars, I never saw Steve this time.

Crossing that line with the chequered flag waving, knowing I had won the class, and with Tim and all the guys cheering from the pit lane,  and me punching the air with delight, I've got to admit to filling up a bit! That moment right then. THAT is what this racing stuff is all about. My first ever 'proper' class win. Yeeeehaaahhh!

Moving on to Snetterton.
I wasn't particularly confident about this new 300 circuit so I thought I'd go testing on the Saturday.
Tim had sorted the problem with the hydraulic clutch once and for all; by ditching it completely for a cable.
I missed a one of the test sessions as it was raining so hard it would've been pointless, but fortunately it all cleared up by the afternoon and I got some sessions in. It was a case of going out, coming in and showing Tim my videos and looking at the data to see just how crap my driving was, getting some intructions on how to fix it, and getting out there again.
Unbelievably, my times came tumbling down during the afternoon. My quickest time here last time out was a high 2:10s. I'd done a 2:06.0. Wow! That's quicker than the official lap record (although it doesn't count as a lap record as that is only during a race).
Obviously it's quite possible that everyone else will be going quicker as well compared to last time, but it was encouraging.

Again I was disappointed that Paul Rickers wasn't going to be there. I assume he hasn't fixed his engine yet. Steve Bell was though so I was looking forward to a rematch!

So blow me, I qualify on class pole for both races with two laps in the 2:06s. Nearly 3 seconds quicker than the next quickest class F. Notably Steve Bell was well off the pace, and it turned out that he'd had a wheel bearing failure. Sadly he didn't make the first race.

So race 1. Video's here:
and we we're on the telly!
Check out my first race winner's interview:

As it turned out it was an easy win. I'd let a couple of class R cars get ahead of me, not wanting to get involved in their battle. This was was a mistake
as I was being slowed by them. Fortunately it didn't matter as Dave Watson was a fair distance behind, but note to self: don't do that again!
So my second win in a row. I didn't cry this time, but it still felt awesome!

Video here:

The second race proved to be more exciting, but less successful.
Steve Bell was back. He got ahead of me off the line and I spent the race chasing him.
Again I had a class R battle to avoid as well, but the second half of the race was just chasing Steve down, having nearly been bumped off by Mr Moore who tried to use me as a brake into the hairpin!
I clearly has a bit more pace than Steve, but just wasn't brave enough to pull a clean overtake on him.
Should've got him into the essess at one point, and round corum.
On the final lap I was right up with him out of the bomb hole, and I thought now's my chance. Unfortunately I took the wrong decision to go to the right of him. Got along side round corum and thought i might get ahead before the left hander, but Steve was having none of that. So I backed off a bit and went for the undercut, but sadly all a bit too late. Tried to boot it a bit early and got all sideways coming out of that last left hander, and then the sprint to the line was a very equal drag race. Steve crossed the line a few hundedths of a second ahead.

Close, but no cigar!

Still, it was one of the most exciting races ever for me. What a buzz!!!

So there we are. Two meetings in a row with a 1st and a 2nd place in each. What's going on?!
Well, I haven't suddenly become a better driver over the winter. The improvement is down to Tim Grey and this awesome car that he's built. Obviously I have to be there, but the improved pace is down to the car giving me the confidence i need to go faster. It really is amazing. It's also a virtuous circle. The car is giving me confidence and Tim is helping me with my driving, which I can now translate into going faster because the car is so good. I think there's more to come!

So I'm really looking forward to testing my new found pace against the established class F leaders like Austen and Paul. That will be the test. Can't wait for the second half of the season...

Friday, 4 April 2014

Donington March 2014 - Start of a New Season

So, here we go with a whole new season.
After a bit of a mixed season last year, I was (very easily) persuaded by Mr Gray to try some upgrades over the winter.

My 06 R1 engine was tired so the plan was to upgrade to a Suzuki GSXR, go dry sump and get rid of the bonnet bulge, improve the aero with Tim's computer designed body mods, and then Robert, as they say, is your mother's brother and we're going faster.

Here she is..the first revealing!

Does my bum look big in this?!

To be honest, if your looking for a detailed technical explanation of the rebuild you're reading the wrong blog. I realise this is not in the RGB spirit, and I'm full of admiration for those who design and build their own cars, but that's not me. I just let Tim get on with it. I didn't even see the car from leaving Cadwell to turning up at Donington on the Friday before the race weekend. Tim was sure, having driven it himself, that the car was massively improved and I was keen to drive it before the race so got myself a session on the Friday test.
Unfortunately for me we immediately had a problem with the new hydraulic clutch. I was struggling to change down below 3rd, and on a circuit with two hairpins, that wasn't good news. Also the noise limit meant that I had to short shift past the pit straight, so I was never going to get a good time. The car did feel great though, clutch issue aside, so the signs were good.

Tim tried some running repairs to the clutch during the session, and it improved a bit, but Tim resorted to going home to get a new master cylinder after the session. So by that evening we were convinced that we had fixed it.

The TGM camp.

Saturday morning's qualiying went well and I got third in class for both races with Paul Rickers and Richard Wise ahead of me, but not by much. I managed a 1:45.45, with Paul 1.4s ahead.Just to put that in perspective, the best time i did last year was 1:47. So 1.5s a lap quicker straight out -the-box as they say! Well it impressed me!

So I'll spare you a blow by blow race report but just give you the highlights. The videos are here.

Race 1 (part1)
 Race 1 Part 2

Race 1 - not too bad a start off the line, but at the first corner I had to avoid a spinner and span myself into the infield. I got going again quickly but dead last. The next few laps was just catching up through the field which was great fun, but frustrating. I could see Richard and Colin up ahead and was catching slowly but I didn't think there would be enough race left to catch them.
Then a stroke of luck for me. A red flag and a restart.
So on the restart I'm 4th in class on the grid. I get a really good start (lots of others stalled due to overheating problems), and I'm right up there with Paul Rickers. Do watch the video of Race 1 part 2 as it's pretty close racing. I'm amazed that I kept pace with Paul and i even had a chance to pass him into the Old Hairpin at one point (5.55 on the video), but sadly I bottled it, and that was pretty much it. That pesky Mr Rickers; using his driving talent to stay ahead like that. Grrrr...
There's also a moment when Richard Wise gets past me at the hairpin (5:20), but I get him straight back again into Redgate. Exciting stuff!
So I end up 2nd in class. I was shaking with an adrenaline rush after that. Fantastic stuff.

Race 2 (part 2)

Sunday. Race 2. Not a good start. My clutch issue reappears on the green flag lap and I can't get into neutral for the start. I'm pushed to the right side of the track and have to watch from with the side.
Then my luck is in again as another red flag stops the race (everyone unharmed but Richard Wise's car was out). Amazingly, I was allowed to start from the pit lane, and the restart counts as a completely new race so I was back in with a chance.
Again, the video tells the whole story, but basically, I drove like my hair was on fire to catch the front class F guys. I was struggling with the gear change though into the hairpins which was a little disabling, but i did, in the end, get myself up to 3rd in class.

As Austen said at the presentation; the luckiest 3rd place ever! So that no.13 isn't doing me much harm so far!

So all in all, a pretty good weekend given that it was first time out with the new mods and the persistent clutch problem. I'm so excited to be up there challenging Paul. I know he can go quicker, but I'm confident that I'll get quicker in this car as I get used to just how fast it now is and find my new limits. It bodes well for a great season.

I'll be a Silverstone. Looking forward to seeing some more Class Fs out there then...

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Silverstone 24th & 25th August 2013

Well, I needed a good one this time, after a rather demotivating season so far, and boy, did I get it!

We were on the Silverstone International Circuit this time which we have never done before. Well, we've done about 7/8ths of it before but not necessarily in this order..
I managed to watch Andy Seaton's video from Friday testing to see which way to go on the bit I hadn't done before, and that was it before qualifying.

Predictably I was a couple of seconds off the pace (well, Austen's pace anyway) in qualy but was nevertheless 4th in class so I didn't think that was too shabby given that all the cars in front of me had been testing.
Thanks to Dan for the pic

Having qualified I then watched my video of qualy with Tim Gray. If you've ever had to see teacher after class for extra lessons for those who are a bit hard of thinking, that was me. Comments like, what the hell are you doing over there at that corner. You could get a taxi to the apex from there, you muppet! (actually he didn't say that at all, but I know he was thinking it!). Anyway, I was the willing recipient of some very valuable advice on my lines and race craft which was genuinely helpful.

So race 1 was fun to say the least. I won't bore you with a blow by blow account, but the video is worth a watch. Highlights include the first lap when Colin and Austen come together in front of me and spin either side of me like the parting of the waves, leaving me free to go straight through the middle and into a class lead. You can then watch me cock it all up and end up back in 4th as Dave Watson, Stephen Malyon and Austen all reel me back in. I have a great battle with Steve Malyon, swapping places with him a couple of times. I somehow manage to throw away a dead cert 2nd place with a couple of laps to go and end up 3rd, Dave having blown his engine and Austen having caught us all up with a spectacular drive to win the class.

Race 2 on Sunday was equally exciting with another epic battle with Stephen Malyon. No video from me but Bob's video captured the whole thing very well (and a superb drive from Bob, btw).

I managed to battle with Steve for several laps before eventually getting past him through the fast Stowe corner at the end of the straight. Bob also got past him, giving me some breathing space. I seem to have a habit of slowing down once I'm in front for some reason and Bob probably did me a favour by getting between us, and then looming large in my mirrors, keeping me alert.
This time Austen was beaten by a superbly smooth drive by Paul Rickers who took 1st, leaving me with my second 3rd place of the weekend.

So a great weekend. We had lots going on in between our action too. Andy Seaton had his first race in his monster twin turbo RX7, in the wet (respect!) and Matt Higginson in the same race in a Rage buggy (we think the first time ever for one of those on a tarmac circuit), and of course the master himself, Mr Gray, in Bikesports which is always a site to behold!

So, very chuffed to get a couple of trophies, and even more honoured to get the Driver of the Day award for Sunday's race which must have been entertaining (and will be on Motors TV soon).


I was also more than a bit chuffed to see my lap times come down from the mid 1:17s to the mid 1:15s in the space of 2 races. Thanks of course to Mr Gray's tuition and to some very close racing. I can't tell you how great that feels after being embarrasingly slow at Donington.

So really looking forward to Donington for a second time this year in September. See you all there.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

My 2013 Season so far...

Well I've been innundated with comments from literally 4 people on the lack of a blog from me so far this year so I thought it was unfair of me to keep my legions of readers waiting any more.
In my defence I do have a good reason for my bloglessness. Embarrassment. Despite my show of promise last season with a class win, I seem to have spent this season going backwards.

It was Brands first. My problems started just three laps into first practice when I collected a barrier having ran out of talent through Surtees (trying to keep up with Austen). The TGM guys did a stirling job getting me back on the track for the races with the help of some new rose joints, a big hammer and lots of fibre glass (but mainly the hammer).

Looking worse for wear, only 3 laps into the season!

One front left tyre with added scenery!
 Unfortunately the steering rack had been bent, and whilst it was driveable, it felt like driving a lorry with flat tyres (not that i've ever done that!). So the race was disappointing to say the least.
The second race on the Sunday was even worse. It was very wet, and if the steering was bad in the dry, in the wet it was hopeless. I span at least twice. I had no feel at all. It was a bit like playing the driving games on the xbox with no feedback, but more dangerous!

Fixed! - no one will notice!

It was especially disappointing to be out of the running for that weekend because it was the only time that class F has had it's own race, without class R. So well done to Austen who had two wins and now has lots of adoring fans and fame and fortune. ;-)

Anyway, moving on. Snetterton was next. We were using the new 300 circuit so about a third of the circuit is entirely new. Same for everyone of course. In fact even those that had been testing on the Friday were none the wiser as it was so wet that very few people had done anything like a fast lap. In fact poor old Colin Chapman had crashed out which ruined his weekend.
The car was properly fixed now, save for some missing stripes.
Looking slightly better - nice day in Norfolk.

Sadly my performance wasn't much improved. A fairly lacklustre performance had me running 6th in class. A spin in the first race, followed by a failed clutch meant a DNF for that one, and then race 2 wasn't bad until another spin in the new section but be at the back.
So again, I was nothing like up to speed.

I missed Pembrey so Donington was next for me. I was running quite well here last time where I got my first class F trophy so I was hopeful of getting back on form. We were running the full circuit which differs slightly to last time out, but again, it's the same for everyone.

As a slight diversion, the weekend started for me with a great evening out at a Blondie concert, thanks to the Chapmans. My first teenage crush! (Blondie, not the Chapmans). Fortunately we were far enough away from the stage for me not to be able to see too closely that she is well into her 60s.  

Got my stripes back
So the theme of the weekend for me was; pretty good start, got worse in the middle and ended badly. Not disaster badly. I did finish in one piece which is always good. No, just dissapointingly well down the field after some terrible driving.
I've looked at my videos to try to see what I was doing wrong and I think i've worked it out. I'm driving too slowly.

I worked out for myself some time ago that, when I get to the point when I think I'm driving as fast as I can, I'm definitely not. I've got to drive faster than that! So I've promised myself that I'm going to Silverstone with a new, drive faster head on and see if we can fix this.

Watch this space.

Monday, 12 November 2012

My 2012 Season Review

I'm not going to just rewrite all of this year's blogs cause that's boring and anyway, you can read them below.
I thought I'd sum up with my top ten lists of the year:

I'll start with the 10 worst moments (so that I can end on a positive!):

10 : Being disqualified at Brands for the reverse gear thing (I'm over it now, honestly!)

9 : General lacklustre performance at Brands in the dry.

8 : General lacklustre performace at Donington first meeting (eventually solved with a dash of oversteer)

7 : My very close shave when Colin S cut across me at Brands midway through Paddock Hill bend (it's all on video).

6 : First corner crash at Anglesey. A head ducking moment!

5 : Anglesey tie wrap failure in race 2. (just really annoying!)

4: Clutch failure at Silvertone in race 2 on a rare occassion when my friends came to watch (even more annoying).

3 : Spinning out at Brands in race 1 in the wet having been keeping pace with Al Boulton (the dissapointment that my talent ran out really hurts!).

2 : The emotional strain of having to nick Al Boulton's class win at Mallory (although in fairness, it didn't take me long to get over it!)

And the biggest, most embarrassing, top muppetry moment of the year...

1 : Messing up the chicane at Donington on the penultimate lap. Dave Watson got past because I thought it was the last lap (as Tim Gray had lapped me, and that is usually on the last lap), and I rather overdid the defensive driving on what I thought was the last corner. I know...I'm cringing with embarrasement as I write!).

Top 10 best moments of my season:

10 : Watching Tim Gray cut through the field from the back of the grid to win at Anglesey (even though I was watching from the infield having crashed out!).

9: Catching the pack following my spin at Brands in the wet.

8: Keeping up with Al Boulton for 2 laps at Brands in the wet following a storming start.

7: The whole of the Cadwell weekend, but especially beating Andy Grant fair and square.

6 : Catching and passing Steve Malyon at Donington following an off at the chicane at Donington (1st meeting).

5 : Passing Dave Watson into Redgate in Race 1 at Donington (2nd meeting) (even though I then messed it all up later - see no1 above!).

4 : Watching Dave Watson make for the hills at the Old Hairpin at Donington race 2. (particularly satisfying bearing in mind no 1 above!)

And my top 3 - rather predictably:

3 : Winning my first Class F trophy (3rd in class) at Donington.

2 : Winning 2nd in class at Mallory

1 : My first class WIN at Mallory.

By the way, I came 4th in class in the championship which was great bearing in mind the problems I've had during the year. However I can't help but think that I was only 1 point short of being 3rd. What if I hadn't messed up that Donington race? What if I hadn't been disqualified at Brands, or had that clutch problem at Silverstone...?
There's an old saying...if my aunt had bollocks she'd be my uncle.

It's interesting (to me anyway!) that, whilst I'm really chuffed to get the trophies, some of my most memorable races have been where I've been catching up after an off, or chasing and catching someone, whereas my class win race was actually relatively dull. It just shows, it not all about the silverware. (who am I kidding...of course it is really!!)

So that's it for another year. Thanks again to Tim Gray and the team for their help and guidance, and to all my fellow RGB'ers who make it all such fun. See you next year.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Mallory Season closer, October 2012

So the season closer. Two races in one day. I'm 5th in class in the championship with only an outside chance of getting 4th but it would be amazing to gain a place if I could.
Nothing done to the car since Doni, no time for testing, I just turned up and was ready to go.

Well, qualifying was very busy and I wasn't convinced that I had managed a decent clear lap. As it happened, I did get 2 good laps 'cause I qualified 2nd in class in both races with a best lap of 49.74
My gob was well and truly smacked. This is my first time at Mallory in this car and I'm 2 seconds quicker than I was in the Westy. Wow!

Now sadly, in my moment of glory, and a bit of a rushed start for race 1, I forgot to switch the video on, so no action there I'm afraid, although Bob's video shows me for most of the race. It was actually a rather dull race. Having got ahead of Colin C on the first lap into Gerrards, he got me on the next lap and pulled away. After that it was a rather lonely drive. Bob kept me honest when he appeared large in my mirrors towards the end which woke me up a bit and I managed to stay ahead (although he's class R so no class battle there).
I missed all the action with DW, Austen and Steve Bell who between them managed to pull off the most dramatic accident ever with Dave ending up Austen's head. So that probably explains why they didn't catch me.
So the result on the track was 2nd in class. That alone would have been my best result ever, but bigger news was to come. Al Boulton, who won the class on the track, was pulled at post race scrutineering for failing the ride height test. He was disqualified. That made me 1st in class.

Well, what a conflict of emotion that was. I felt really sorry for Al, and it wouldn't be the way I would want to get my first class win, especially since it meant Al had no chance of winning the overall championship. But I got over that in about 2 seconds. I'll take it thanks!! (Al will still win the class F championship after all!).

(BTW, I was 8th on the track which is also my best result ever).

So, with Al having sorted his ride height, DW out, Colin S out, but Austen back in the runnning, it was onto race 2.

The video worked this time:

Again, not a particularly exciting race in the end, although a red flag and restart kept me working hard to maintain my start position. I had a moment towards the end when Tim lapped me and I got a bit off line (where it was damp) and the new chap in David Whale's old car got past me. Knowing that Austen was close behind, and he would inevitably catch me if I got stuck behind this car, I took a brave dive round the inside through Gerrards and got past him. That pretty much secured my second place. (9th overall this time).

So a first and a second in class in the same day. Two of my best results ever.

Oh, and this result put me 4th in class in the championship. Just 1 point short of Austen. Oh so close to a championship trophy. But hey, there's always next year.

I'll do a season review shortly, but suffice to say for now that, despite some low moment, overall this has been an amazing season for me. I think my driving has definitely moved up a notch and I've achieved some notable benchmarks like my first class trophies and my first class win, not to mention some lap times which should have Austen worried!

I can put a lot of this down to the brilliant guidance of Tim Gray who I thank very much, as well as congratulating him on a perfect full house season of 14 out of 14 wins and the overall RGB championship.

Off to the Birkett this weekend. Not a championship thing, just a bit of fun. Watch out for the report next week.
Cheers all.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Donington 1/2nd Sept 12

I've been a bit slow getting round to updating the blog again I'm afraid which is odd in a way because I achieved a significant achievement for me: my first class F trophy. 3rd in Class.

Sorry for giving away the result straight away. I never was very good at building tension!

So last time out at Doni my results and times were, at best, mediocre. I managed a 1.18.62 at best but most of the time I was in the 1.19s which neither Tim nor I thought was representative of where I should be. So Tim looked at my videos and we decided that I had too much understeer. So Tim worked his magic (well, a couple of clicks stiffer on the rear dampers) and off I went.
Well, the car felt much better, although I still only managed a marginal shave off the time with a 1.18.56 in qualy putting me 6th in class. (Austen was doing 1.16.86, Dave Watson a 1.17.63 so well off the pace).
Nevertheless, the two races were really close battles and fantastic fun.

(If your watching the video the time is in brackets.)
Race 1:

My usual dire start dropped me behind Colin Spicer straight away, but a first lap spin by Colin and Steve Bell's demise gained me a couple of places before the 2nd lap. I even had Austen is sight for a while until he got past Dave Watson.
At (7.15) I catch DW and Chris Scopes in the MNR. At 8.10 Chris Scopes decides to abandon track going into Redgate (I understood later that his brakes had completely failed and he thought that was a good way of not ploughing straight into the barriers at Redgate). Somehow, despite a clumsy attempt to avoid being t-boned, I end up in front of DW, although he then get me back again straight away.
I chase for a lap or two and then pull a heroic move into Redgate (11.00) and make it stick this time.
Also see my moment at 12:40 into the Old Hairpin. Tim Gray was looming behind to lap me and I think I was starting to show off!
Anyway, I then do something that must qualify me for muppet of the year. Tim lapping me made me think that I was on the last lap (I wasn't.) I knew DW wasn't far behind and I thought he would probably try a mad move into the chicane in a last carner attempt to get past. Unfortunately I outbraked myself and cocked up the corner completely, resulting in DW sailing past like I was going backwards. Doh!!
So that was it. I was 4th in class. So near and yet so far from a trophy. Gutted, but also uplifted from having a very exciting race. Also managed a 1.17.52. Over a second quicker than I've ever done here before (and only 3 tenths off Austen's best lap which is an important benchmark for me).

Race 2:

So yet another poor start with Colin S rocketing past again. At the first chicane (1.32) DW gets caught up in someone else's spin and I get past him. I then have a bit of a tussle with Colin S, getting past at Redgate only for him to get me straight back, and then finally nailing him into the Old Hairpin.
DW then catches me (4.20) and gets past me at Redgate (5.40). I had Tim's words ringing in my ears 'hastle him'!!. So I did. After Scott Mittel and Matt H came through following their earlier incident, I get up with DW again (7:50) and make sure he knows I'm there. At (8.40) Dave takes to the grass on the outside of the Old Hairpin in a generous move presumably intended to let me past as easily as possible ;-). After that it's a race to the line. I catch Austen a bit, but I gather he was pacing himself so I was never going to get past him. Still, I was 3rd. Yesssss!! My first class F trophy!!

Just for the record, best time was a 1.17.77. Slightly slower than the last race but still no disgrace.

So very pleased with that. Thanks to the TGM team.
On to Mallory in October.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Anglesey August 2012

So Anglesey then.
Never been there before. In fact it's been a while since I went to a circuit for the very first time so it promised to be interesting.
Sadly I didn't have time to do the test day on the Friday. We had tickets for the Olympic rowing for Friday morning (which was fantastic) and then I headed off mid afternoon for the long drag up to North Wales.
I made pretty good time (5hrs) so was there unusually early for me. Time for some of JC's burgers!

So my first time out on this track ever was the RGB qualifying session.
It's a very interesting circuit and you're presented with a stunning view of the coast as you come round the back of the circuit :

Not that I was sight seeing at the time...I was a bit busy.

The car felt pretty lively. I was getting loads of oversteer coming onto the start straight and the first corner but it felt good. It took me a few laps to start to test the braking point into Rocket which is a 110 degree left hander after a blind crest so pretty scary the first time out.

Anyway, I didn't disgrace myself too much. Ended up with a best time of 1.15.8 which put me 6th in class. Only 0.5s off Paul Rickers which I thought was pretty good for the first time out.

We decided to do nothing to the car set up wise. I was concerned that dialling out some of the oversteer would just mean I understeered through some of the faster corners and make it worse, so I opted to just try to drive it faster!

Well the race was, how can I put this...disastrous.
I got caught up in a first corner incident which, on post race analysis, went something like this. Dave Watson clips the back of Austen, Austen spins into Tim H (and hits him twice somehow!), David Whale dives to the right to avoid them, swipes my front end, bonnet comes right off, taking the throttle bodies with it. Ok and Paul Rickers was momentarily off as well. So I spent the race camped out at marshal post 4, along with Dave Watson.
As it happened, if I wasn't going to be in the race, I did at least have a cracking view of the race from there and was enthusiastically cheering for TG who managed to win the race from the back of the grid.

Here's my video.

So the damage was mainly fibreglass - easily fixable, although all the mounting points were broken so the solution was tie wraps.

Sadly, for me, Race 2 on the Sunday was curtailed early by the tie wraps failing and the bonnet coming off. Trying to take Rocket with no forward vision at all is a tad tricky so I came in before I did any more damage.

Bit of a bugger that. 10 hours travelling for about 3 minutes racing.(not to mention the cost). Hey ho. That's racing I suppose.

So, on the positive side, i've learnt that if you see a big accident happening at the first corner, it's probably best to get out of there. And tie wraps aren't as strong as you might think!

Also, the Saturday night barbecue was great fun, and it can't go unmentioned that TG's performance in RGB, winning both races from the back of the grid, and getting a win and a second place in the bikesports in a mildly adapted RGB car, was amazing. It was almost worth being a spectator just for that.

I can also console myself with the knowledge that I didn't have the worst weekend of my esteemed racing colleagues. Austen's weekend was pretty bad, and whilst Bob had a good weekend on the track, I think a 14 hour journey with the AA on his way home must count as the worst weekend's journey ever.

Donington next. No excuses this time. I know the secret. Drive faster, don't crash. Simples.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Donington 23/24th June 2012

Bit late with the update this month. Lots going on including my family holiday and my 'other hobbies' getting in the way (you know what I mean, Austen!)

It was a manic weekend for me as I'd entered the Bikesports races as well so I had 2 quali sessions, and 3 races on Saturday, and the 1 RGB race on the Sunday. My thinking was that, since I hadn't had any chance to test, and it was 2007 (I think) when I last raced here and even that was only a few laps before the old Westfield packed in, I'd use the Bikesports as extra track time.
I'm glad I did, as it happens, although I couldn't have done it without the TGM team looking after me (and reminding me that I was out again almost as soon as I came in between the RGB and Bikesport races).

Despite the practice, I only managed 1.19.2s in qualy putting me 7th and 6th in class on the grids.
Sadly my video didn't work for either of the RGB races so I can't show you my perspective, although Steve M's video captures Race 1 quite well :

After a reasonable start, having got past Colin Chapman and Dave Watson by Redgate (although later found out that Dave's harness had come undone which would certainly slow me down a bit!), I blew it all away in the chicane at the end of lap 1 when I outbraked myself and got all out of shape and then had Steve Robinson sideways across the track in front of me and had to go round him onto the gravel. I managed to avoid being bogged down completely in the gravel but I was well down the field when I got back on. I spent the rest of the race catching up with Steve and finally managed to get past him with a lap to go putting me in 6th in class.

Best time in race 1 was a 1.19.29 which was worse than qualy which was strange, esapecially since I was chasing for much of the race and really felt I was on it. Maybe the track was a bit slower, but Any Grant was doing 18.0s so I'm definitely well over a second off where I should be.

Race 2 was pretty uneventful. A poor start, but ended up 5th as Austen broke something and didn't finish. Times were even slower though at 1.19.85 so no idea what's going on there (although still about a second off Andy Grant).

Oh by the way, I had a great battle in the Bikesport races with one of their class C cars. Same engine as me but wings and slicks. Beat him in both races which rather amusingly put me second in class twice. I'm 3rd in class in their championship (LOL). Here's some video (the only time it worked!).

So all in all, a fun weekend. Bit dissapointed, if I'm honest, that my times weren't a bit closer to the pace given the track time I had. A bit of post race analysis with TG required before we go to Doni again. Ah well. Never going to get the prize for most talented newcomer am I!!

Anglesey next on 4th/5th August.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Cadwell Park, May 2012.

Well that was an amazing weekend in many ways, but mostly because Cadwell is such an exciting track.
I must admit that, reflecting on Brands, I was pleased with my performance in the wet, but in the dry I was a little dissapointed that I haven't taken a big leap forward and I was starting to wonder what I have to do to make that breakthrough into the sort of lap times that I should be doing by now (at least a second, if not 2 quicker).
Well I've come away from Cadwell with a big boost to my confidence in that respect. I'm not there yet but I took a huge chunk out of my past lap times here this weekend and I am, as they say, dead chuffed!

So the racing was eventful!
The story of race 1 was set at the start when, way back in 19th on the grid, there were two stallers ahead of me on the grid. I had no choice but to go left onto the grass, and by the time I got back on both Dan and Colin S had got ahead of me and the Austen / Steve Bell race was well out of range. So my race was firstly about getting past Dan, which I eventually managed to do through the fast left hander after the start straight. I then quickly caught up with Colin. Despite a couple of chances, which I messed up, Colin is very good at making his car very wide indeed and I just couldn;t make a move stick, despite both Scott Mittel and, on the last lap, Tim, managing to get past with relative ease.
I just need to be a little more aggressive I think, but I really didn't want to risk contact or worse. So I had to settle for a 5th in class (by a margin of a few tenths of a second!).

Here's the video:

Race 2's start was much better and I quickly got up with Austen and was even running 3rd ahead of Steve Bell for a while although that didn't last long. I was very keen to keep pace with Austen but at the same time I knew I had Steve Robinson and more crucially for class position, Andy Grant behind me. Austen did manage to pull away a bit mid race but I did some great laps later in the race and, coupled with Austen getting held up ahead of him, I was well within sight of him in the closing laps. On the very last lap Steve Robinson pulled a banzai move going into the Mountain, which was very brave of him. Still, as I crossed the finish, I was only 2 seconds behind Austen for a 4th in class. Oh and infront of Andy Grant!

Race 2 video:

So I have a lot to be pleased about there. I did a 1.37, which was 2 seconds quicker than last time out and than my qualifying time. Ok Austen went about half a second quicker that that, but on recent form, I'm very pleased to be that close given that I covet his third places and am determined to take at least one of them off him sometime this season, so I'm getting closer.
The other thing I'm dead chuffed about is beating Andy Grant on the track, fair and square. Sorry to rub it in Andy if you're reading this. I have enormous respect for you and I know you are a quick driver, which makes beating you all the more satisfying.

So, I needed some reaffirmation that I'm still able to improve my driving, and I got it this weekend.  
Maybe some of the Tim Gray genius is rubbing off on me after all! (only a tiny bit, mind!).

See you at Donington.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Brands Hatch, April 2012.

So second weekend of the season. Brands Hatch.
I had high hopes that I could do well here as it's the circuit I know best. The forecast was for rain all weekend though so anything could happen.

Sure enough, Saturday morning was wet. And cold. I know that 'cause after an hour in the scrutineering queue I couldn't feel my feet any more.
Qualifying was interesting. Here's some video (still a novelty for me this video lark!).

Let's see, two spins, several avoiding of other peoples spins, and lots of sideways moments, but I come through it with a reasonable 4th in class and 14th/13th on the grid for races 1 and 2. Quite pleased with that.
Nothing much to do to the car for the race other than one new tyre. I may not have bothered if it had been dry but the rain clearly wasn't going to stop so it made sense.

Race 1. 14th on the grid. I'm on the outside of the track and I remember from my last wet race here that the outside line around Paddock tends to be grippier in the wet than the inside.
I get an absolutely storming start getting past two rows off the line. Then round paddock and past some attrition straight away. I find myself up with Derek and Al going into Druids and stick with them. Going into Clearways I actually thought for one scary moment that I might even get past Al. This was like one of those parallel universes in quantum theory where everything is the same except,
in this world, James Walker is actually quite talented!
Anyway, this lasted a lap and a half. Going through Surtees for the second time and I caught some deep water and span, and span some more until I was on the grass on the outside of the track facing the wrong way and watching all of my esteemed competitors driving safely by... apart from Austen who had been right behind me and span in sympathy.
For a brief moment I thought I might actually be able to get back on the track before he did and stay ahead. Sadly the grass tends not to offer much grip in the wet and my attempts to get back to the tarmac were at least balletic, but slow. I would have been better off swapping to the Bongo at that point!

Anyway, I got back on eventually but behind just about everyone. What followed was, for me, one of the most exciting drives of my life. I was like a man possessed, determined to catch up. I did in fact manage to get back up to 4th in class, where I started.
Whilst I was pleased with that, and it must have been good to watch, I can't help thinking what might have been if my talent had not run out on lap 2. (to quote Jason Plato commenting on his own spin at Thruxton on the telly later, my little bag of talent wasn't quite as full as I thought it was!).

Enjoy the video highlights:

 So that was Saturday. The rain didn't stop for a moment and I was very glad of the TGM motorhome. The evening was fun, spent mostly in the Spire camp for Steve Robinson's birthday celebrations, whilst the wind and rain tried to wash us all away.

Sunday's race was at 4pm so a slow morning was spent, mainly watching the BTCC on the telly. You can never have too much motoracing can you!

Race 2. Amazingly it actually stopped raining about an hour or so before the race so it was back to a dry set up. Whilst I was one position higher on the grid this time, it meant I was on the inside, nearest the pit wall. So there was no cruising around the outside this time.
As it happened my start was not great and I lost several places straight off. Colin Spicer got ahead of me into Druids and I spent the next couple of laps getting past him. Great racing, but it meant that I lost sight of Austen who was the length of the straight ahead of me by the time I got a ahead of Colin. The rest of the race was a lonely cruise home.
I finished 4th in class which was ok, but I must admit that I was slightly disappointed that my lap times where still in the 53s. I thought I should be a good second quicker than that by now. Maybe it was just being out on my own that knocked the edge off, although it felt at the time that I was pushing as hard as I could, at least for a few laps.

Here's the video highlights:

Anyway, I should't be too hard on myself. I was pleased with my performance in the wet, and race 2 was fun, if ultimately not exceptional. Note to self, must be braver into Paddock, must be braver into Paddock, must be.......

Just as a footnote, and I really don't want to sound like a grumpy old man (although I'm about to anyway!...). Race 2 ended with a slightly sour taste. The club decided that I did not deserve any points for that race because my reverse gear didn't work properly after the race. The regs say you should have an operable reverse gear. Well I can't deny that it didn't work when tested. My argument that it must have broken during the race was met with disdain and the comment that it was therefore not up to the job.  I could appeal their decision if I paid £300 there and then. No opportunity to check the car to see what had broken.
So that was that. All points for that race deducted, and a warning that if I did it again I could have negative points or even be excluded from the championship.
I know the rules have to be enforced, but I thought it a bit harsh. Does everyone else realise that if your car suffers damage during the race, which means your car doesn't then comply with the regs, you can lose your points? What about damaged bodywork meaning your ride height is too low for example.
Ok rant over. To misquote a famous Hollywood interpration of William Wallace, they can take away my points, but they can't take away the fun!

Cadwell next...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Season opener - Silverstone, March 31st 2012

A rare shot of me at speed.
(thanks to Afgan Dan for the pic)
I had been thinking about posting something over the winter. Something along the lines of how I was filled with optimism about the coming season; that I should have some really close racing and if everything goes well I might even pick up a bit of silverware this year with some top 3 finishes, at least in class if not overall.

Well I'm glad I didn't 'cause I'd look a bit silly now.
The season opener was a bit of an eye opener to say the least. I'm feeling a little, how shall I put it...deflated!
There's more competition than ever this year. Obviously the class R cars are quicker anyway and all the talented drivers have gone off and built new ones over the winter. So even the quickest F cars are well down the grid. I qualified 18th (29 entrants).

This is all good for the series of course, but it does rather lower my expectations.
Mind you, on the positive side, my qualifying lap time was my quickest ever. 1.04.7. I was getting just under 1.07 last year in slightly damp conditions, which was about where I had been with the Westy in the dry.
I'm told that everyone was roughly 2s per lap quicker due to the resurfacing at the complex so that kind of makes sense. However, my current benchmark is Austen who has exactly the same R1 engine, and he was about 1.5s quicker. Doh!

Anyway, Saturday's race was just a little dissapointing for me. I was hoping to keep in the Austen / Colin (S) and Andy Grant pack but I was losing several car lengths down the back straight and just couldn't keep up.
I managed a 4th in class in the end by default as the new class F car of Steve Bell went out in a cloud of smoke (and he was subsequently commended for his bravery under fire), but my times were still stuck in the 1.04.7s compared to 1.03s for the pack I should be with.

I can't blame the car. It felt great, so it's not that. Watching Tim's video I think I may have worked out where I'm losing time. I need to be wider into Becketts and maybe a tad slower in but faster out which is where I'm convinced most of the time is.

I was out in the free practice on Sunday morning when I hoped to practice the Becketts thing but suffered a clutch failure after only 10 minutes leaving me spectating with the marshals for 20 minutes. The TGM team were quickly on it and thought they had it sorted for the race. I was all set to perform in front of my family and friends who were putting in a rare appearance, but the clutch failed by the first corner and I didn't even manage 1 lap.
Boy was I ****ed off!!
When I said I wanted to finish the race first, that's not quite what I meant!

Now, those that know me know that I'm a positive person. I'm quick to be philosophical about the ups and downs on racing, but my resolve was tested this weekend. But let's be honest. I'm lucky to be able to do this fantastic sport at all, and there are moments when I would not want to be anywhere else, so onwards and forwards!

Anyway, Tim reckons he knows what the problem was and has fixed it (if you want a full technical explanation of the problem, you're reading the wrong blog!). So I will be at Brands, with my optimistic head on. Don't take it easy just yet, Austen!

Friday, 23 December 2011

My 2011 Season

Dear Santa,

I think i've been a good boy this year.
I started the year with a trophy at Mallory for 2nd in class. That's good isn't it? Well, I know there were only 3 runners in the class, but I still beat someone fair and square.
And Brands was pretty good, I thought. If club racing is about close battles then Austen and I are ambassadors for the sport! Oh and my cheeky move on Colin at Graham Hill bend was an uncharacteristic stroke of genius. Yes, yes. I know he got me back later but it felt good at the time.

If it was anything to do with you, Santa, thank you for my new Phoenix in May. Such a shame that I went and broke it first time out. I promise to treat my toys with more care in future.
It was a relief to be able to fix it by July for Snetterton again. That was good fun. I thought I was doing well there for a while, running 3rd in class for most of the race, but blew it all away at the end and ended up 5th. Must try harder.

Anyway, if proof were needed that I've been a good boy this year, look at Silverstone. What a race that was in the wet. An awesome battle with Matt Green no less! Ended up 9th on the track and 4th in class. Just short of another trophy, but the best present of all was my Driver of the Day award. There you go. Proof!

Pembrey was quite interesting in the wet as well. Plenty of sideways fun, although at the same time, terrifying!
I'm afraid I broke my toy again though. Damn that clutch.
It wasn't a whole lot better by Cadwell, but the TGM elves managed to fix it with a little help from Austen.
I did manage another 4th in class in the wet. Oh, and an overtaking move on Tim Pell over the mountain that will stick in my memory, not to mention another close battle with Austen.

So there you go, Santa. Proof that I've been a good boy.
Now, there's a good chap and sort me out with some more talent for next year would you? I promise to use it wisely. If you can't manage that, maybe just some brave pills.
And can you hurry up. I can't wait for the start of the season.

Yours, eagerly

Friday, 14 October 2011

Cadwell Park, 8th/9th October 11

Another long trip up to the depths of North Lincolnshire, but oh boy is it worth it. Only my second trip to Cadwell but it is now definitely my all time favourite circuit, even if the weather didn't impress.

A busy weekend. I'd entered the Allcomers as well as the two RGB races, so I had two practice sessions and two races on the Saturday. At least I was supposed to. Sadly it didn;t quite work out like that.
Out in first practice for the allcomers. It wasn't raining but the track was wet. I was getting some clear laps as I'd been at the front of the queue, but started to get some clutch slip rather like I did at Pembrey. Anyway, I came in after 8 laps before the clutch packed in completely.
I managed a best lap of 1.41s which put me 4th on the allcomers grid, behind the bikesports cars, but first of the other RGB boys. The rest of the grid were MR2s, Saxos and the like, so much slower cars, but nevertheless I was pleased with that, especially since it was done with a slipping clutch. It is good fun racing with slower cars on the track (much like the Birkett) as it reminds you just how stonkingly quick these RGB cars are.

Anyway, the TGM boys burst into action and changed the clutch plates and got me out for the RGB qualifying.
This session was much dryer, especially after a few laps although still a bit damp in places. Sadly though the clutch was still slipping so I'm not convinced I got my fastest time at 1.39.3. Mind you, that is still quicker than I ever did in the Westy, although I still don't really have a true like for like comparison in the same conditions. The Phoenix is definitely quicker though.
So another mad effort by Tim and Andy to change the clutch again. Clearly there was something more wrong than just worn plates and it took a bit more time that we thought. Unfortunately I missed the Allcomers race as a result which was a shame. It was won by a bikesports car, but Colin Chapman came second. Another 'might-have-got-a-podium' for me there!

So we made it to the RGB race with new(ish) clutch plates.
It was very wet. Another 'can't even see the track never mind where the hell the next corner is' first lap. Still - managed to keep right up with Tim H who span out after half a lap and suddenly I'm running in the top ten. Then the race is red flagged due to an off by Tim Pell at the hairpin, and we all start again back in our original positions. Sadly I didn;t get quite such a good start this time and got behind Dan and Colin. It took me a couple of laps to get past (close one there Colin!) and then I was chasing down Tim H who I could still see up ahead. To my surprise I was catching him, but the race was just not long enough and I settled in behind him. That put me 9th on the track which was very pleasing, and 4th in class.
I was also a good 1.5s quicker than Tim H in those wet conditions so I'm very pleased with that. I'm starting to enjoy this wet racing despite the moments of terror that it brings with it!

Anyway, despite the creditable result, the clutch still wasn't right.
We'd run out of spares now and I had to go begging. Thanks to Austen for the loan of a new clutch.
The TGM boys spent a rainy evening changing it again. I helped by passing the beer!

Sunday's race then.
This was another wet one, although it did start to dry towrds the end. I managed a reasonable start this time, managing to get past Paul Rickers. I was also really chuffed to get past Tim Pell in the class A Genesis. We went airborne over the mountain together and I got him on the inside into the next right hander. Right in front of all the spectators. Hair raising moment that. Nothing - absolutely nothing - beats that feeling.

So having got past Tim P, I was chasing down Austen who was tucked in behing David Wale. I quickly caught up and the rest of the race was a three way battle. Obviously I can't hear it in the car but I gather the commentator was getting quite excited as we went almost three abreast at one point. Really exciting stuff.
On the last lap it turned into a 4 car battle as Paul Rickers caught us all up. Half a lap to go and David goes onto the grass but comes back on to block Austen's pass, who had sensibly backed off to avoid an obvious collision, and that was the last chance he got. We crossed the line with all 4 of us just 2 seconds apart, and Paul was 1 tenth of a second behind me. Far enough though!
Another 4th in class. 11th on the track this time.

I must note that Tim Gray was the star of the weekend in the Sabre. He beat everyone by at least 20 seconds in both RGB races. Unbelievable. I am not worthy!!

So that's it. Season over.
I'll do a review of my year shortly but for now I'll just say, I already can't wait for next season. I'm aiming for trophies next year!

Thanks to Dan 'The Squirrel' for the pics: