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Racing Report

Silverstone International Circuit - October 3rd & 4th 1998
Circuit Length: 2.24 miles

Driver : Denise Manderscheid, Car No: 36
Comment : What a superb weekend…………..

Qualifying: To be at the circuit for 7.30 meant a 5am wake up followed by out on the road for 5.30. A bit too early for my liking but team boss was adamant he wanted all 3 of his drivers there on time. And so it was that I found myself having cereal and hot tea at a services not more than 8 miles from Silverstone at 7.10 am.

By 7.30 I was approaching the scrutineering bay behind which was the office where I had to sign on first. By the time I got to my race car my mechanic had already gone through scrutineering and was needing my race suit, helmet and signing on papers. These I handed to him and off he went on the quad. He was back five minutes later all completed. And it was still only 7.40! A special drivers briefing for the Mini Se7en's had been called by the Clerk of the Course for 8.45 - so we had a whole hour to wait.

Jonathan the newest driver to the team and a novice (this was only his second race) was understandably nervous. There were 43 mini's due to qualify for Sunday morning's race - and only 38 would be successful.

Following the special driver's briefing we went straight to our cars in the holding area from where we would go straight out on to the track for qualifying. The three of us were lined up one behind the other at the front with three other front runners along side us. Here was a good opportunity for me to get a good start with some really quick drivers.

We entered the circuit at Brooklands (a left hander) which leads straight onto Luffield a sharp right-hand loop leading onto the start finish straight. As I entered Luffield I went too close to the inside kerb put a front wheel onto it, ended up sideways and had to cut across the grass before getting back onto the track. By this time the guys in front were long gone and my chances of getting a tow was also long gone!

However, all was not lost. I managed a best lap time of 1:52:54 which put me in 24th position (10th row) on the grid. My team mate Jonathan qualified 37th out of a total of 38 and Rob was on the 3rd row in 8th position.

Race Day: Yet another early start but at least this time I didn't have to leave home till 7am. It was dry but bitterly cold and standing around even in a race suit you felt it.

The Mini's were the first race of the day at 11.30. The green flag lap showed the track to be in good condition. At the same time I tried to get some heat into the tyres and also made sure I warmed up the brakes which had new pads.

I made a good start and was beside the car in the row in front of me when I approached Copse, the first corner. But luck was not on my side. I must have found a greasy patch because suddenly I was sideways and losing it all. Fortunately those behind were able to avoid me. I finally got it back together again in time to see Jonathan pass me. And so from the back I had to fight my way forward. And fight I did.

By the end of the race I had managed to claw my way back to 20th position. I had some interesting moments with other cars and lots to talk over with other drivers in Parc Ferme after the race.

As for my team mates - Rob who was doing well at the front, was forced off into the grass at Maggots. He came back to finish 15th. Jonathon was not quite so fortunate - he came off into the gravel at Brooklands.

For me this was probably the most enjoyable race of the whole season - lots of action, lots of frustration, lots to fight for. And then afterwards lots to talk about. Being the last race of the main season I believe all the drivers relaxed and just went out to enjoy.

Out of 38 starters 27 finished - many people went home with damage to be repaired over the coming months.

As for us well Rob's family got the barbie going and then out came the beer and wine and we had a very nice lunch. As for the rest of the racing - well I just didn't get to see any of it!

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