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Racing Report

Cadwell Park, Lincolnshire - April 9th, 2000
Circuit Length: 2.17 miles

Driver : Denise Manderscheid, Car No: 21
Comment : Started 13th out of 18 starters - finished 9th

Pre-race day testing: A full days testing was planned at Cadwell the day before the race date. Conditions were perfect, dry, clear and not too cold. As soon as I went out on the track for the first test session of the morning I felt comfortable. The car was set up right, I remembered the track from previous races and everything was coming together. My lap times were not bad for first time out at 1.18 but I needed to knock a further 3 seconds off that.

An hour later the second session started. Back in the groove again straight away and bringing my times down, the track was clear in front with a string of Mini's behind me but not right on my tail, I decided to go for a fast lap.

As I came down past the start finish straight the car was handling beautifully, foot flat to the floor in top around the left hander up the hill, quick change down into third and full on to the power again - sailed up the hill and around the right hander, the car goes light as you crest the top of the hill and make a line for the sweeping right hander.

At this point you are blind to traffic ahead of you and unknown to me a Miglia had blown a tyre, spun out and come to rest in the middle of the track sideways. I saw him just after I crested the top of the hill - with the car light and aimed straight at his driver's side door all I could do was hit the brakes. I locked up and slid straight into his driver's side door. The moment before impact seemed to last forever as Miglia driver and myself looked directly at one another. On impact I pushed the Miglia along the track and into another oncoming se7en trying to avoid us.

The damage to both cars was quite considerable - the whole front end of my car looked very sad indeed - I did wonder if the engine was terminal such was the impact of the accident. After a stay in the medical centre, just for a check over, I returned by foot to the Paddock to survey the damage.

I walked away from the incident as had the other driver but both our cars were in desperate need of repair. I found out later that my speed at impact was roughly 75 mph.

I was not destined to get out on the track again that day, as the damage was too severe even for my team to repair quickly. I needed a new front end (body work) which luckily I had as a spare, new wheel, new tyre, track rod ends, cv joint, steering rack, sub frame and ………… but that's enough of the depressing news.

Qualifying: Back at the track the next day Terry had been working the previous afternoon and into the evening to repair the badly damaged car. Parts had to be brought up from the team's Oxford base and Terry still had some work to do. But the car was definitely ready for scruitineer and qualifying. And the weather was proving to be brilliant - beats the previous race.

And so it was up to me to go out and try to qualify as well as possible. Out on the track I took it easy for the first couple of laps making sure the car was okay and that I got my three laps in ( essential to getting a place on the grid). There was no apparent damage to the engine, all seemed well, no oil leaks, pressure was good, temperature was good - but the one thing I didn't like was the handling. I was to find out after the race that the sub-frame was 6" out of true! Nevertheless I qualified 13th.

The Main Race: The race before ours was red flagged due to incidents and this meant we were to spend a lengthy amount of time in the holding area sat in our cars waiting to go out. Normally this does not bother me but on this occasion I found it difficult to sit still and concentrate. I just wanted to get out there. Nerves were setting in from the accident the day before - I was also stiffening up and had suffered whiplash.

Following qualifying the team had adjusted the front suspension to address the handling problem for me - I was hopeful that it would be better.

Finally we got out nearly an hour late onto the track. I made a very good start but nearly wiped out on the car directly in front of me on the grid who obviously didn't see the lights! I nearly drove straight over his car!! That woke me up! And maybe him too….. A quick jink to the left and I was sailing past him (beats going over him) and onto the left hander prior to Charlies that I had come to know so well the previous day.

For the next 20 minutes I was fighting with the pack for positions. Although I had a good race I felt I was not back to full race strength and should have been able to do better - but circumstances dictated that that was not to be. I did however, finish 9th which did much to restore my confidence.

For the next race at Oulton Park, Cheshire there is much to be done to the car. Terry's quick-fix had done me proud but the front-end needed completely re-building.

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