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Racing Report

Oulton Park, Nr. Tarporley, Cheshire - April 30th/May 1st, 2000
Circuit Length: 2.77 miles

Driver : Denise Manderscheid, Car No: 21
Comment : Started 22nd out of 32 starters - finished 14th

Qualifying: With a complete rebuild, including paint spray to the front end, the car was now looking more like it's old self - crisp, clean and very white. And what's more she was also handling superbly.

Still concerned about the engine (I cannot believe I didn't damage it at Cadwell Park.) I was checking gauges for the first few laps and then realised she was fine. So I relaxed and just concentrated on getting the best lap time. For once qualifying was more like a race as we all jockeyed for position and better times. My best qualifying time was 2.15.3 per lap, (just under 74 mph.) earning me 22nd position on the grid.

The Main Race: With the qualifying on Sunday April 30th we then had to wait until 1.30 on May 1st for the actual race. No real hardship as the weather was good to us again and it was a pleasure to relax in a little sunshine.

Looking at the grid positions before the race I soon realised that my team mate Jonathan Hudson was right behind me on the grid and Ralph Saunders, my support team boss, three rows ahead of me (hmm gonna have to do something about that one…). Jonathan was telling me he was going straight through and past me once the light turned to green (yeah right - not)!

When the lights changed from red to green I was off like a jack rabbit out of a trap and as I had anticipated made up to two rows in front of where I started. The start however, was not without incident - two cars had a coming together, one ending up sideways in front me momentarily then straightening up and going across the grass before rejoining the track.

Ralph had got caught up in this debacle and was shunted off track across the grass and into the tyre wall - unfortunately a lot of damage was done and he was out of the race.

Meanwhile I was having great fun with the pack until I came up to number 98 Andrew Pilkington. Andrew decided he didn't want to relinquish 13th position ( no-one would blame him but I wanted it…). For three or four laps Andrew and I fought all round the track , down through Cascades and along Lakeside to the Shell Oils corner, up to the Foulstons chicane and then onto Knickerbrook chicane.

Several times I nearly got past him and when he lost it at Knickerbrook I thought here's my chance but despite being sideways Andrew held on to it, straightened out and kept just slightly ahead of me! At Lodge corner I tried in vane to overtake him on the inside, the outside every which way.

Very effective blocking stopped me each time until the penultimate lap when I managed to get inside of him at Lodge Corner and edge slightly ahead only to lose it to him yet again at Deer Leap. We battled it out down through Cascades again and on the straight down past Lakeside I was alongside him preparing to get to Shell Corner ahead of him.

But my team mate Jonathon Hudson had come to grief, spun off the track to the left, rotated on the grass, come back across the track and spun again on the other side before coming to a halt on the grass! How did he do that? But worse than that he had left a lot of mud scattered right across the track at Island Bend. Andrew and I took one look at the depth of the mud and both decided change down to 3rd gear (it's normally a flat out in top gear corner). Had we gone through in top and slid on the mud we'd have had no chance of recovery. So Andrew once again made it into Shell corner just ahead of me - but I stayed on his rear bumper right the way round until Deer Leap when he just got the edge on me and crossed the chequered flag ahead of me. Wow what a fight……… I'm looking forward to the next race at Silverstone on May 20/21st.

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