Snetterton - Rounds 4 and 5, 25th/26th May

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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).

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This page contains a single entry by published on June 3, 2008 3:41 AM.

Round 3 - Castle Combe, 5th May was the previous entry in this blog.

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