June 2008 Archives

I love Brands Hatch, and particularly the Indy circuit. I'm not really sure why, but the place 'feels' like a proper racing circuit, the track itself is good fun and it is brilliant for spectating. Some friends even came along to watch!

Because of the sheer numbers, qualifying was split across two groups and mixed with the Classics grid. Especially on a small circuit like BHI, it's easy to get held up but I had already decided that I just had to go for it and see what happened. Group 1, the group I was in, was qualifying for the right or pole side of the grid and Group 2 would qualify for the left of the grid. In these circumstances it always seems more difficult to get a good grid position as every place dropped effectively puts you back two places - although you only have half the fast cars in each group. I set out quickly and after about five laps found some space to put in a few really good laps, ending up with a 55.245, almost a second quicker than I had gone in testing the day before. This put me fourth in my group and therefore seventh on the overall grid, a good result! Trev was on pole (54.793), Tim GO in second (54.825) and James Sibbet in third (55.102) (full times and grid).

BrandsHatch.jpgI got another good start and went past Paul Turley (6th) who had got (another?) equally bad start. I usually aim for someone to follow from the start and this time it was James Sibbet (3rd) but he also got a poor start and I was right with him through Paddock Hill bend and in 5th place. Druids on lap 1 is always interesting as this was no exception with JOS and David Shaw coming together and David losing his rear nearside wing. Under heavy braking I tried to move out of the way a bit and ended up locking up the rear which at least gave me a good opportunity to demonstrate my trademark one handed skid control. We all got round with Roger now trying to come around the outside and although I was ahead as we ran down to Graham Hill bend, Roger held the inside line to get through. Roger wobbled a lot as we went into Surtees which was a bit worrying but it came to nothing. Onto lap 2 and Ben simply shot up the inside into Paddock Hill from a long way back which took me by surprise (although given where I braked, it shouldn't have done). As we ran up to Druids I had the inside line and although Ben did his best to make the gap as small as possible I managed to squeeze past under braking. I could see Trevor out front with a bit of a gap followed by Eddie Benson and then Tim GO and David side by side battling for third. Ahead, Roger pulled a similar move on JOS as he had done on me a lap earlier, squeezing through on the inside of Graham Hill whilst taking plenty of curb.

Roger got another great tank slapper on the exit of Druids on lap 3 with the rear of Roger's car slapping JOS nose and causing him to drop back and allowing me past and back onto Roger's tail. I had a much better exit from Clearways and got past on the straight with relative ease and held the position (5th) through Paddock Hill. At the sharp end Eddie Benson also managed to get past Trevor to take the lead.

Into lap 7, Roger does a Ben and also flies past on the inside at the entry to Paddock Hill (I really must sort out my braking for that corner!) but I'm back past at Druids with JOS also getting ahead of Roger. At the end of the lap I have a decent gap back to the JOS/Roger battle but I'm over three seconds down on Tim GO ahead in 4th and a further second back from Trev who is back in front. As I exit Druids on lap 8 I can see that Eddie is off the circuit on the right hand side and is only just rejoining. I'm sure that I have the momentum to fly past him but he takes a 'firm' line into Graham Hill and I have to back off to avoid contact. I indicate my displeasure!... and then get on with chasing him down but it is Roger who is moving up the field, again getting past me into PH on the next lap and making it stick this time. On the exit from Druids, Paul Turley gets too far onto the grass and spears into the barrier, ending his race and putting a large dent in the barrier/wallett. David Shaw had now taken the lead from Trev with Tim GO holding third.

Not to be left out, on lap 12 JOS comes past on the inside into Paddock Hill. I had no idea just how much space there is there! This does give me the inside line into Druids though and I get back past him. At the end of lap 15 I'm still chasing Roger but again get a better run out of Clearways and get past fairly easily on the start/finish straight but leave him, and a battle worn Hugh, the inside line into Paddock Hill. As we come down the hill from Druids, Roger and I are side by side and right behind Hugh.

Lap 18 and bloody Gareth Thomas arrives around the outside of Druids! Where did he come from!?! (19th on the grid as it happens). I put a wheel on the grass at the turn in to Graham Hill bend and very nearly lose it. On lap 20 Tim GO gets ahead of Eddie Benson but by lap 21 it's back to Eddie in third and Tim in fourth.

On the final lap (22!), Roger up ahead takes a very tight light into Druids and sneaks past Gareth. Hugh is only just staying ahead of the battle. I have a look at getting past Gareth into Clearways but I'm not close enough and have to drop back - and I'm still trying to shake JOS off my tail. So I finish 8th but am really pleased with the way I drove. Trev, David and Eddie take the podium places, relegating Tim GO to fourth. (Full results).

Here's a video of the highlights which should include most/all of the events above! 

snetterton race 1 video

(22Mb Windows Media File)

So, that's six rounds down and its probably time to start looking at the Championship table. We can drop three scores and with one drop taken into account I'm in 11th on 208 which slightly surprises me as consistency is normally highly rewarded, in part due to our points structure (50 for a win, then one point fewer for each place behind) - it just shows that the people ahead of me are also being very consistent. Mark Roberts is my closest rival on 210 and then Paul Turley on 213 although he has done Marshalling, which nets 10 points. Anyway, there's a 100 points to play for at Silverstone with a hectic one day double header.
I don't really get on that well with Snetterton. Last time we were here, I qualified 18th and 17th and finished 18th and 9th (well, I suppose the 9th wasn't too bad). The time before that (scroll down a bit) I ended up rejoining in last place on lap 1 in race 1 and retiring from race 2 on lap 1 with a misfire. And this year rain was forecast (during the Academy in 2004 and my first season of Grads in 2005 I don't think I had any wet races - now they seem to be the norm!).

I tested on the Saturday which went OK and we went out to qualify in the pouring rain on Sunday morning. At least when you qualify in the wet you can try to find some space and avoid too much of the spray. I was determined to try to push a bit and I seemed reasonably quick passing quite a few people. A red flag for a stranded car in the middle of the session didn't help with the rhythm but I ended up in a reasonable 11th place for both races. The weather held (i.e. chucking it down) all day and there was a lot of standing water on the circuit by the time we lined up for race 1. The psychological pressure was raised on the green flag lap when Mark Roberts, who was behind me on the grid, demonstrated how quickly he could get away from the start - whilst I demonstrated how slowly it could be done. Fortunately I was only teasing him and I got a great start when the lights went out, going straight past Gareth Thomas, David Shaw, Paul Turley and a 'struggling to get off the line' Hugh Smith. The visibility as we went onto the Revett straight was non-existent and driving at 90mph using the white lines at the side of the road to keep you on line is quite daunting, especially as you are trying to keep one eye out for any cars spinning/slowing down in front. Paul and Hugh didn't waste much time in coming back past me but a spinning Tim GO gave me another place and put me into 9th at the end of the first lap. As well as coming past me, Gareth had a storming first lap as he made it into third place. Round the back of the circuit on lap 2, through the Bomb Hole, the rain was more intense and it was so difficult to see. I took to frantically trying to wipe water off the inside the windscreen but it didn't really have much effect. Trevor Newman, James Sibbet and lap 1 stormer Gareth were settling into the podium places.

Round Riches on lap 3 I got really sideways and thought that I was going to lose it but fate was smiling on me and I kept going. I was chasing Andy Hawken and gaining on him over a lap although we were clearly quick in different places. As we came to the end of lap 3 I got very close but dropped back as I made a bit of a mess of the exit of Russell - I still made a place though as Roger span out. I was still chasing Andy on lap 5 and now I could also see headlights in my rear view mirror. I finally managed to get past, taking an inside line into the Esses. Up to 7th. At the end of the lap Eddie Benson came into view and and I set off to try and get past him. The leaders, with Paul Turley in 4th, were unchanged.

On lap 8 and still chasing Eddie (and not getting a lot closer). We both come across a a sideways Hugh at the first part of the Esses which gifted me another place. As I started lap 10 there were only four and a half minutes to go. Eddie got really sideways into Sear and I got past, 5th place. This is better! As we went into the Esses I could see cars ahead (the rain and spray seemed to have died down a bit, or maybe I had just got used to it). The cars were back markers and I got past one going into Russell and one on the way out. In the run up to Sear on lap 11 I came up to Colin Jardine a little way ahead and decided to following him round Sear - unfortunately the wrong decision as I was held up a lot more than expected and Hugh/Eddie go from being some lights flashing in my mirror to filling it. At 150m before the Esses I'm in a Hugh/Eddie sandwich with Hugh on the tight inside line so I expect him to get the run through although I am more than a little surprised when Eddie drives past round the outside. Down to 7th.

There was one more lap than I expected and I was determined to play it safe given that there was no-one in my mirrors. Round the back of the circuit I caught up with Steve Humphreys (a lap down) but was not in a rush to go past. We end up having a drag run to the finish line but I backed off just in case - which was almost just as well as Steve got quite badly out of shape as he hit standing water! First lap video below and full results.


snetterton race 1 video

(6Mb Windows Media File)

So, 7th place, (much) better, but plenty of room for improvement. Trev, James and Gareth took the podium places.

Race 2 was on the bank holiday Monday morning and, amazingly, it was dry! Another good start but this time I threw it, and more, away on lap 1. From 11th I got straight past Andy H (10th) and Paul Turley (8th) and was following David Shaw down to Riches but I was far too slow in and Andy drove past on the outside with Mark Roberts (from 13th on the grid) then getting through on the inside into Sear. I almost waited for Paul to come through on the inside at the end of the straight! As we got to Russell Paul tried to go round the outside of Mark but ended up having to hit the brakes - I closed in and was reluctant to brake as well, but ultimately a little too reluctant as a touched the back of Paul's car. Having started 11th and got up to 9th, I finished lap 1 in 13th as Kenny Young was also 13 hundredths ahead of me at the line. Trev was out in front but James Sibbet, who had started 2nd, had dropped back to 4th. Gareth Thomas had made the most of it though, up to 2nd from 5th.

snetterton race 2 video

(6Mb Windows Media File)

By the end of lap 3, Hugh, who had initially dropped from 4th to 6th was up to second place with Gareth in third and Trev out in front by over two seconds.

On lap 6 I finally caught Paul and got a great tow down the straight to go past, one lap later, he repeated the favour whilst Gareth had dropped back to 10th from 4th. Lap 8 and I made the same mistake with Alan Harber as he drove past into the Esses - I'm down to 13th. We swap places again on lap 9 and 10 and there is a large group of cars in front of us and less than 10 seconds to Trev in the lead. Alan goes a bit too quickly into Riches on lap 11 and slides off towards the carrotts, dropping to 15th and moving me back to 11th, a couple of tenths behind Roger Ford. Trevor, Eddie Benson and Tim GO occupy the top three places.

I could see lots of battles in the group ahead and as we pass the last lap board I suspected that something was going to happen. Roger wobbles a lot through Riches and once I have got over the worry that he is going to slide sideways I realise that I am now right behind him but I'm not quite close enough to get past on the straight as he is also getting a tow from the cars in front. As we turn into the Esses I see some contact ahead as Gareth, Mark and Paul come together. I'm momentarily unsighted by the large tyre barrier on the apex of the right hander but as I come round there is plenty of room and I follow Roger past making up the three places to 9th. To add a little spice, it starts raining as well (although I thought it was coolant for a while!). I back off a little up to the line and take 9th place behind Roger. Trev wins with Tim GO up into second and Eddie third (full grids/results).

For the first time I missed an event because of a holiday - need to plan better next time.

The weather was dry and Trevor Newman took the win ahead of Eddie Benson and Hugh Smith. Ben Rockey and Chris Rome had an unfortunate coming together towards the end of the race giving them both a DNF.

Full results are available here.

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This page is an archive of entries from June 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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