Well I finished the day at Thruxton feeling very pleased
with myself and having had a superb day. But it certainly
did not start out that way!
The day dawned with clear dry but blustery conditions - not
too bad for qualifying really. We were second out to qualify.
I was on brand new front tyres having ruined one tyre following
a puncture at the previous test session at Snetterton a couple
of weeks ago.
Not long out of the pits and barely a third of the way round
the first lap I lost it - the back end came round to meet
me and I ended up broad-side on, stopped in the middle of
the track! Not a good place to be. It shook up a few following
Mini's. After the qualifying session one driver came up to
me and requested that I not do that again please as it had
taken him by surprise. Took me by surprise too - the track
was a bit greasy and I had a further little slide into Campbell
which is the beginning of the esses - all this in my first
lap was a bit much!
The remainder of the 15 minute qualifying session was nothing
special for me as I found it hard to get-to-grips with the
circuit, and even harder to get my times down. I finally qualified
in 34th position - last on the grid. I was not a happy bunny.
Meanwhile my mechanic found an oil leak - a pretty major
one as I had blown the oil seals around the cam belts and
oil had leaked onto the belt. It required new seals and belt.
Luckily the team had the seals and I had a spare cam belt
so my mechanic proceeded to put it back together again
I made a blistering start at the race and made up at least
two places. This enabled me to join the rat pack and start
fighting for places. The car was going great. I had decided
to throw caution to the wind and just keep my foot in all
the way and it worked. I had a cracking good race dicing with
several cars some of which came off worse by ending up in
the grass and I just kept on going! I kept it on the black
stuff all the time with just one or two hairy moments at the
chicane where I took it a bit wide and fast and cut across
the exit of the chicane near the tyre wall. And once at Allard
going into the esses where I had a little bit of a slide.
While there were several of us having a battle at the back
the front runners were carving one another up - literally.
There were many modified body parts at the end of this race!
But disaster nearly struck for me on the penultimate lap.
I was fighting for 22nd place when I suddenly started to lose
power on the fastest part of the track between Village and
Church. I pumped the throttle and changed into third gear
and she picked up and I managed to stave off the mini behind
me. Coming into the chicane he got the better of me and shot
past, but he went wide on exit and I caught him on the inside
and passed him. But then just before Allard he got past me
again and as I tried to come up his inside he eased over and
pushed me out but still I stuck with him. For a moment I thought
we were going to trade some paint-work. We were pretty close.
Through the esses I got ahead of him and kept ahead until
the back of the circuit where I again experienced fuel starvation
and this time it was severe enough for him to get past me
and ahead. I managed to keep the engine running but in the
time it took to pick up properly the other mini was way ahead
of me. And so into the chicane and the chequered flag was
ahead of me but so was the other mini. Next time…..
My next race is at Cadwell Park in two weeks time - before
then my car has to undergo a thorough check over including
the carbeurettor which may be the cause of my 'fuel starvation'