Prior to the race day I had a very full day of testing on
Saturday July 18th which enabled me to get familiar with the
circuit - sometimes getting to know certain parts a bit too
The morning session was fairly uneventful - during the afternoon
however, it started to drizzle and for the last session of
the day my team mate Rob Cullum decided he would teach his
two team mates the correct lines around the circuit.
The first lap was a doddle as Rob led myself followed by
Simon around the circuit. But it was not to last. No sooner
than we had completed the first lap and began to negotiate
the hairpin followed by another right-hander through The barn
than I found myself in a slide and out of control on the bend
to be followed very closely by Simon. Rob in the meantime
was ahead and wondering why we were dawdling! Only when he
looked in his mirror and saw me broad-side with Simon sliding
behind me did he realise that we just might take one another
out - not a happy thought!
As Simon and I embedded ourselves in opposite banks, Rob
continued at a slowed pace. Meanwhile I backed out of my bank
nearly collecting another car, and carried on down the start/finish
straight. I was not to get the opportunity to catch up with
Rob as he was to come to grief a short time later when another
car spun off the track only to come back on in front of him.
Rob t-boned him. His car was not a pretty site but he was
The damage to Rob's front-end was extensive but repairable
and he did get out the next day for the race. But that was
the end of testing.
Sunday dawned nice and dry slightly windy but actually very
pleasant. Because there were well over 40 entrants for the
Mini race two qualifying sessions were held. I was in the
first of these sessions and managed to come in 15th out of
21 qualifiers. However when the times were put together of
both qualifying sessions I was placed 7th on the grid for
the qualifying race. The first three finishers in this race
would take part in the main race later in the afternoon.
My position on the grid gave me a good opportunity to go
for an entry into the main race and this is what I aimed for.
I made a lightening start making up two places straight away.
From there I kept up with the top four cars, trading places
a couple of times for fourth position. On the 5th lap I had
a slight coming together with another mini at Chris Curve
which cost me a couple of places. But these I made up and
by the final lap I was closing in on 3rd position coming through
the gooseneck and down the hill into Mansfield when suddenly
the red light came on, on the dash. For a second I hoped it
was a malfunction but the engine temperature started to rise
sharply. And so I slammed the brakes on as I was going down
the hill into Mansfield and came to rest by a marshall's point
just short of the tyre wall.
My crew in the meantime thought I had overdone it coming
down the hill, braked too late, locked up and gone into the
tyre wall. No doubt the copious amounts of steam they saw
rising only served to cement their thoughts! Also the tyre
wall obscured their vision of what was going on.
Lady luck was certainly not with me that day. It turned out
that the water pump belt had broken. If only - I would have
definitely had 4th position.
Since that day my car has been prepped, repaired, cleaned
up and made ready for this weekends race at Donnington Park
near Derby. I am qualifying tomorrow afternoon and racing
on Sunday afternoon. I must admit to more than a few nerves
as I have not tested before on this circuit. Qualifying tomorrow
will be quite daunting - 15 minutes is not very long to get
to know a circuit and put in a good lap time.