Author (#2)July 2008 Archives

Silverstone National is, well, not the greatest circuit in the world. Four corners and that's it. However, it always produces excitement (sometimes, too much) because it is so wide and that means constant slipstreaming and fanning out before the corners. Qualifying was wet and was always going to be interesting given that I hadn't tested - partly because it was expensive and partly because it was full when I rang up to book it. I didn't doo too badly though with an eighth place (1:23.780). James Sibbet was on pole (1:20.878), HSilverstoneNational.pngugh Smith in second (1:21.213) and Trevor Newman in third (1:21.794). (full qualifying results and grid).

My start was reasonable and although I got past a fishtailing Darrell Wilson the lead group already looked a little way ahead - but as we accelerated past the start/finish line I also got past a struggling James Sibbet and was getting closer to David Shaw. Trying to put my wipers onto full speed distracted me slightly and as we got towards the turn in point I saw Andy Hawken come past me on the right hand side with some bits of wing and rear light cluster flying around (I think he had come together with Bill Hombersley). I was glad to be away from it and held left a bit longer that usual. Tom Hayman-Joyce came past me on the left and started to turn in but a little quicker than me and his rear tyres rode over my front, sending me into a spin. My first thought was that the damage didn't look too bad and I should be able to continue, but that was before I had turned 180 degrees to face 32+ cars that still had to come past me! Luckily for me only one made contact, Eddie Benson, and he had obviously been very quick on the brakes as the impact was small. By time I got the car restarted I was going to rejoin last. As I pulled away, smoke started pouring from my left front tyre and it was pretty obvious that the wing stay was rubbing against it. As I came round at the end of lap 1 I could see two very damaged cars in the middle of the circuit (Andy Skinner and Mick Whitehead). I was just going to pull into the pits when I suddenly panicked about whether I would be considered a runner if they threw a red flag, so I decided to carry on for another lap. About 50 metres past the pit entrance I saw the red flag come out, but I had to continue for a full lap and then creep past the field who were lining up to (re-)take their grid positions. Once in the pits, MMM quickly bent my wingstay away but also had to replace my nosecone which was badly damaged - the radiator had just about held together. I rejoined the grid second last and ended up finishing 21st of 32nd, with a further 9 DNFs in the full results.

silverstone race 1 video

(3.5Mb Windows Media File)

The race 2 grid was based on the second fastest qualifying times and this put me 5th. It was dry and this time my start was OK from a traction point of view but I took quite a long time to react to the lights. Trevor Newman ahead got a much better start and went past Hugh Smith and James Sibbet, whilst I was catching David Shaw (4th on the grid) - but not before Gareth Thomas came through on the inside. I had the better run through turn 1 and then the line into turn 2 and so managed to get back ahead before the National Straight when the usual 'slipstream and then fan out' approach ensued. James Sibbet had the lead, Trev second, Hugh Smith third, David Shaw fourth and me in fifth. By the end of the straight it was Hugh, Trev, James, David and me! On the start finish straight I was getting into no-man's land, ahead of Gareth behind with a small gap, but also dropping back from the lead group. With slipstreaming so important, this was a worry but I managed to catch back up with them through turn 1. Trev ran wide and dropped back into fourth place. This time down the National Straight it was *so* close as everyone battled for the best line and the best tow. Into the braking zone Hugh made a mistake and span off into the gravel. I was momentarily in third as we went into Brooklands/Luffield but Trev was on the outside and slotted in in front of me and behind David Shaw. I pulled out of David's slipstream but this was a mistake given that he was getting a tow from Trev and as I hit the wall of air, Gareth (who in turn, was getting a tow from me) came past on the inside into Turn 1. Gareth and I went through Becketts side by straight and I got a good run out of the corner, much better than David in front - but there wasn't enough room to pull out and I was forced to momentarily back off, letting Gareth ahead but still getting a tow which pulled me past David. But then Tom Hayman-Joyce went past on the outside! I locked up into Brooklands, holding it but losing a bit of momentum and allowing Mark Roberts past and David back past.

On lap 4 I got myself into a tight squeeze on the National Straight again, this time with Mark and Tom which almost allowed Alan Harber past. The next lap though was better and although Tom and I were so close I got past on the National Straight again and held the place into Brooklands, despite a slight tag on entry. At the start of lap 6 (in 7th place) I was dropping back from the pack in front and I needed to catch them up quickly. In turn, the top 3 were pulling out their own gap.

It wasn't until the end of lap 9 that I got right back with them. Places were swapping endlessly but I was really just hung onto the back of the group until turn 1 on lap 12 where David made a mistake and put his car sideways. Mark (ahead of me) and I both got past but lost too much speed thinking about it which allowed Alan Harber past. He got past Mark on lap 13 but I seemed to have a lot more speed into and through Turn 1 and I got the run on both of them, cementing the position through Becketts. But I was now in the dangerous position of leading the pack with no-one to get a tow from in front. Combine that with a less than ideal exit and it was relatively easy for Mark to slingshot past. Alan eventually ran a little wide round Luffield which dropped him back a bit.

Lap 15, and Alan got back past into Turn 1 but on Lap 17 I took back the place and this time I made it count. I took the inside into Becketts as I knew this was his preferred line. I asked just a bit too much of the tyres though and loss the back end, fish tailing off the circuit and, as happens at Silverstone, allowing a great gaggle of cars through. Chris Rome, Alan Harber, Paul Turley, Martin Kay, Tom HJ and finally Eddie Benson. Down to 11th place?!

silverstone race 2 video

(23Mb Windows Media File)

So, I ended up finishing 11th after throwing away an almost certain 5th place - which would have been my best result of the season. Trev won, JOS second and Gareth third. (full results).

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