The Main Race: The Mini's
were first race of the day straight after lunch - so we did
not have long to wait in the Paddock. Just as well it was
getting colder and the sky looked very ominous. The track
had dried out from the mornings downpour but there was still
moisture in the air. We decided to opt for dry weather tyres,
as did the majority of other drivers.
As we all lined up on the grid
it started to rain lightly - for the green flag lap however,
it was throwing hailstones at us! This was beginning to remind
me of the first race of last season at Silverstone where we
raced in a snow fall.
Reformed up on the grid we
waited and waited for the lights to go red - the rain came
down heavier and then as it eased so the lights turned to
red and then green. We were off……. And then it started to
pour with rain.
I made a slow start but managed
to catch up with the pack just as they slowed at Campbell
for the sharp but fast right hander into Cobb - a 2nd gear
left-hander. By this time there was spray everywhere and the
hailstones were constant making visibility poor.
During that first lap at Campbell
two of the front runners had come together. Two were stopped
in the middle of the track with a lot of front-end damage
- a third had taken evasive action so as not to crash into
them and had ended up careering across the grass, over a ditch
and up an embankment where he rolled over. Needless to say
the race was red flagged and we all slowly made our way around
to the start/finish line again to sit in our grid positions
while the track was cleared.
By this time the weather was
worsening and with the majority of Mini's running on dry weather
tyres the organisers decided to let us come back into the
pits to allow for a tyre change to wets.
Back in the pit lane the team
had three cars to change to wet tyres - and I must say it
was impressive the speed at which they worked in such lousy
conditions. All three of us got back out on the grid just
within the allotted time ready to start again.
It was still raining for the
re-start but we all got away. During that first lap my windscreen
started to mist up and I found it difficult to see were I
was going. I was beginning to regret not having that de-mister
fitted on the windscreen.
On the second lap it was sufficiently
bad I decided to come into the Pits to get the crew to clear
the windscreen. The rain-x'd cloth should do the trick I thought.
But I was wrong - during the next couple of laps the visibility
got worse and in the end I decided to come into the pits again
and retire. Between the heavy rain, hail-stones and a misted
up windscreen I felt it was better to retire than drive into
a tyre wall or another car.
Considering the damage I saw
in the Paddock afterwards - a good decision but not a happy