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Racing Report

Silverstone, Towcester, Northamptonshire -March 28th 1999
Circuit Length: 2.24 miles

Driver : Denise Manderscheid, Car No: 21
Comment : When things go wrong they go very wrong! My first DNF of the season.

Qualifying: For once the weather was kind to us and I drove up to Silverstone on Saturday morning with clear blue skies ahead of me and all around me. Great thinks I, things are going to go well! I should never have thought that thought!

There were 46 Mini's that went out to qualify for 38 places on the grid. As usual my Astratech(lap timer) was not working so most of the time I had no idea what my lap times were. I spotted my pit board held out by my mechanic late into the session, very late. Unfortunately it was the last lap of qualifying. I had in fact seen it initially at the beginning of the session. My time did not look good so I had to pull my finger out - but it was too late. Next time down the start/finish straight I was met with the chequered flag and end of session. Things did not look good.

When the results sheets arrived I was stunned - I only just qualified. I had the last place on the grid!

As for my team mates - Rob qualified 10th ,Jason was 12th , Phil 34th and Jonathan 44th. That meant Jonathan did not qualify and therefore would not race. A bitter pill to swallow for him and also for me as I knew I could do so much better. But that's life and racing.

The Main Race: It was a long wait from 3pm Saturday afternoon until 5.20 pm Sunday afternoon for the race but as we were last race of the day there was little choice. The weather on Sunday was even better, a bit windy but still very nice for racing.

We formed up on the grid in the usual manner. Being right at the back I had a formidable view of the rows of cars in front and vowed to get as far forward as possible on the start. As usual I made a good start and got to the third row in front of me well before the Copse right-hander.

As I followed the pack around Copse things were looking quite good. On down to Becketts the sharpish right-hander following the pack, saw some door handling ahead of me but managed to keep out of that. Then flat out down to Abbey the hairpin where I could see there had been some damage done by the front-runners with a small amount of debris on the track. On around under the bridge and round to Priory the flat out in third left hander followed by a short distance to Brooklands. This is a tight left-hander requiring a quick hard stand on the brakes change down into second then straight round to Luffield which is a long hairpin down to Woodcote from which you join the start/finish straight.

Back around Copse again and I was looking at taking another position on the straight down to Maggotts and Becketts. Didn't quite manage it but carried on down to Abbey in close touch with the rest of the pack only to find the yellows come out, meaning no overtaking. As I came up to Abbey I saw three cars had played ping-pong and come to rest embedded in one another in a straight line right on the left hand side of the hairpin. Not a great place to be.

As I rounded the hairpin I realised the rather squashed middle car was my team mate Rob. Unfortunately Rob decided to get out of his car at the same time as I and several others behind me decided to round the hair-pin! Gave me a nasty moment that did. Fortunately he took one look at us and dived back in the car.

At this point the red flags came out and we all had to slow down and follow the pack around to the grid where we were formed up in our grid positions for a re-start. While on the grid my engine started to over-heat and being concerned I switched her off, letting a marshall know that I might have a problem on the re-start. However luck was with me and she started first time. On the green flag lap (this preceeds every start of race) my engine came down to a normal engine temp - around 40 degrees versus the 90 it had run up to on the grid! So I formed up on the grid and waited for the red lights to come on followed by the green.

I made yet another good start but not quite as many places this time. On down to Copse and so on. I knew we had nine laps to go and therefore tried to settle in to a steady pace while trying to pick off one or two cars along the way. On my second lap around at Abbey I decided to take a chance and cut inside a bright yellow mini but he was having none of it and closed the gap. This caused him and I to do a bit of door handling. No harm done and I got past him a short time after.

On the third lap I came down the Pits straight to see a stationery yellow flag on my left. Simon was behind me itching to get past. As we rounded Copse I saw a waived yellow flag followed immediately by Paul Francom's car broadside in the middle of the track with engine bared, front end missing and driver's side door in very battered shape.

I saw Paul shake his head just as Simon overtook me and dived in front of me to miss Paul's car. Simon and I were later to be called to the Clerk of the Course office for a discussion which culminated in Simon getting a severe reprimand for overtaking on a waived yellow (a no no).

And so the race was red flagged yet again. Again we formed up on the grid and started off again this time for a four lap race. By this time my engine was feeling a little tired and as I kept an eye on the guages I just prayed it held together. On the final lap again coming around Abbey I had a shunt on the right rear wheel from my team mate Phil (I spoke to him later.).

It was a very hard shunt but I managed to keep her going and on the black stuff. As I came under Bridge the power started to falter and then the engine let go in a huge pall of white smoke from the exhaust followed by smoke and/or steam from under the bonnet. I coasted to a halt just in front of my other team-mate Jason who had taken his second shunt of the day this time wrecking the front of his car!

It was not a good day for the team - both Rob and Jason were taken to the circuit medical centre along with 5 other drivers from the Mini Se7en race. All of the drivers were released after a Doctor's check-up. The carnage in the Paddock was not a pretty site. Of the 38 cars to start the race only 19 finished. If I had finished I would have been in 17th position.

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Terra Novus 2000, Web Mistress: Denise Manderscheid