A Light hearted last race round up, from a forty something squidgy round the edges race driver. Qualifying, I kept up my now, season long underwhelming poor set of qualifying laps on the Saturday.
Qualifying really has never been my strong point, in what was actually a very, very well set up car. This was made even worse by getting my best lap disallowed for “track limits”
Race 1, Sunday. Eager to make amends to the team for the shortcomings in qualifying, I blasted off the line like a rat up a drainpipe as the lights went out, making up 3 places going round the outside of turn 1 (Redgate). Avoiding 2 cars hitting each other, after one left the track via the gravel and grass then rejoining with a bang ,was the next hazard I happily sneaked through the middle of. The few laps that followed were
fairly uneventful, I just kept my head down and my lines clean and tidy as the car was handling like a dream. I could see It was paying off, as I was catching the next gaggle of cars in front of me on the laps that followed. At this point (as I found out after the race) I was setting lap times that if I could only qualify like a normal person, it would have seen me 7th on the grid but hey ho, why make it easy for myself.
Unfortunately I ran out of talent and tarmac on lap 6 after carrying a bit too much speed into coppice, the double apexed blind right hander, this sent me on a little excursion bouncing through the beautifully raked kitty litter for my over enthusiastic entry speed.
After rejoining the track two places down, I noticed as I entered the next sequence of corners that the car was running hotter than the curry I’d had the night before. It then begun to misfire down the main straight with steam pouring out the bonnet so I decided to park it, out the way at the end of the pit lane, I was hopeful at this point that I’d saved the engine, the post mortem that followed back in the Excelr8 Motorsport awning proved otherwise.
My little off-road adventure had removed the auxiliary belt and with it the ability to pump water round the engine, 1 deep fried piston ring wasn’t really on my weekend menu. Great!end of my raceday…….. or so I thought!
What followed between race 1 and 2 was quite unbelievable to watch, with around a dozen, enthusiastic spanner and socket wielding Excelr8 techs removing the engine from an unused race car, transplanting a new heart into what had been my lifeless race car.
In less than two hours the job had been fully completed and to a high standard, and I was sitting in the holding bay waiting to go out for race two, Outstanding effort from every single member of the team!
Race 2, Sitting on the grid for race two albeit at the very back, wasn’t a position I’d thought I’d have been in a couple of hours previously, but thanks too some real team work, here we were.
I was looking for another demon start, and as the lights went out I got my wish, with very limited wheelspin I was bombing past three cars going into the first corner, then another two as we went into the daunting yet strangely addictive Crainer curves.
I was on the back of a big pack of cars all squabbling for position, and after a few failed attempts at passing, I sat tight behind them waiting for them to make mistakes rather than take myself or somebody else off, I didn’t want to be “that guy”.
I was looking to hopefully pick off the odd car here and there as the race unfolded, with nobody pushing from the rear, as they were a bit further back by this point i remained glued to the rear bumper of the car in front, only falling back slightly after going a bit hot towards the chicane into the Melbourne loop section.
I collected a bit more kerb than usual on the exit and it definitely unsettled the car, It wasn’t until I reached the top of the Craner curves again that I realised that my kerb hoping had potentially moved something on the set up of the car, frantically sawing at the wheel, panic ensued as I attacked this normally fun section of tarmac, realising with every tenth of a second that passed I could no longer go flat into this section of the track, and that there was a very good chance my otherwise immaculate race suit was now most likely…….soiled!
Strangely however, I did make it to the next corner still on the black stuff, having fully expected to have been an overpriced, fibreglass bumpered lawnmower. I was falling off the speeding pack in front in the laps that followed, as I was around 2-3 seconds off the pace I had been setting in my now ever so slightly crabbing race car, but I had built up a good lead on the pursuing cars behind, so that’s where I remained coming over the line in 18th place from the back….in a race I didn’t think I was going to get out in…..or finish after my kerb smacking set up adjusting antics.
That’s now the end of the season, and I have a few people to thank for their help on this steep learning curve year. Thanks to all the friendly JCW MINI drivers for putting up with the token Scotsman on the grid and apologies if I’ve gotten in your way, or hampered your corner speed in any way, but I plan to do it much, much more next year!
MINI Challenge UK, such a well run and professional championship. My Motorsport tech, Adam Loasby he’s my wee favourite in Excelr8, knows just what to do and say when I’m having a moment, and seems to be able to fix my car also which comes in handy. Justina and absolutely everyone from Excelr8 Motorsport, for making me feel a welcome part of your well oiled machine and of course, that unbelievable engine change.
You guys rock! “Teamwork makes the dreamwork” as a local legend once said. Aaron and all the guys and galls at AReeve Motorsport for all their hard work. Massive thanks as always, to the Orange Army as without you guys and girls there would be no racing. Sponsors who helped make this season possible, Balgoniemotorcompany.co.uk Diamondselfstorage.co.uk Grant Purdie from Autosmart Fife for his continued support.
Last but certainly not least, is my long suffering wife Lisa who along with my kids Morgan and Jensen travel the length and breadth of the country on planes, trains and automobiles just to watch me play at car racing. Thanks for reading my race ramblings and apologies if I’ve missed you out but I do have the memory of a goldfish. hopefully see you guys on the black stuff next year, if I get some sponsors……hint hint!