I was quietly confident about doing well at Cadwell binasow it’s the only place I really do any testing or practice and I love the challenge of the circuit which fits more with my rally driving style however I was a bit apprehensive as it’s 5 months since I’ve been and I was struggling with the lines and was aware that some had been testing during the week. Not sure who but was pleased to stick it on the fifth row of the Nippon grid in front of Ross Stoner and Craig Rankine with a 1:49.2
MR2 qualifying went even better with a 1:49.0 but second behind Arron.
Nippon Race 1 was going OK, Craig passed me off the start but I managed to stick it up the inside into Charlies and then drove away from him. I caught Karen Phillips who was holding me up in the corners with the heavy Subaru but was able to scamper off down the straights before doing it all again on the next corners. I’d managed to drop Craig but he caught up and was challenging when I noticed the temp gauge had risen and I obviously hadn’t cured the cooling problem with the O-ring in the gearbox drain. The engine was cooked and rattling like a skeleton having a w4nk in a biscuit tin. Game over I thought as I sat at the hairpin waiting for a tow back, joined by Alec and Arron who didn’t seem too disappointed for me to be honest!!!
Back in the paddock I treated her to a drink which fizzed and gurgled as it hit the hot engine then all shot out in a geezer of steam. Not looking good. The next few pints did the same and eventually we downgraded from geezer to bubbling mass status and eventually she took a fill. The cold water we put in had already put the gauge up to running temperature and following a bleed of the water system and some fuel and an oil check we were out for the MR2 race. As the engine cooled, the rattling diminished and, with a full bottle of rad weld inserted, she was sounding sweet once more.
MR2 Race 1
I was away like a robber’s dog and led the first lap and even felt like I’d started to open a gap on Arron but it all went to *censored* on Charlies when the car wanted to go on the grass and a bob into third was needed to keep her on the circuit. This allowed Arron to draw level on the straight and some large *censored* braking was required to keep him behind. I kept him back until Barn where he out cornered me and got a run onto the straight and was away before Coppice. After a few more laps, Ross caught me and un-necessarily muscled me into Barn then came past and rubbed me down the straight as well. Bit un-necessary as it was obvious I was having handling problems. Pete Higton caught me with a lap or so to go and I managed to hold him off to the finish. I had a rake of people come up to report problems with my car which was diagnosed and fixed by Jamie Firth as being the rear tow arm bolt had fallen out. The rear wheel being held in position by the extremities of the wheel arch only.
Nippon race 2 from the back of the grid, I’d decided that to try and squeeze my way through the back of the field when the lights went out would be futile or suicide so held back and followed everyone down the start straight, which was a good job as everyone was quicker than me anyway. I started to pick my way through and eventually came across Tony Collier and Kev Middleton; the latter of which put me on the grass at Park. Spent the rest of the race trying to improve my lines if it weren’t for Andy in the Suzuki trying to work out what was wrong with his handling.
MR2 Race 2.
Starting from third but with no Ross in front but pulled away in third so knackered that up.
Had a character building first lap; having got a brilliant run round the outside of Charlies I had the run down the straight passing CAB and Nathan but wasn’t far enough in front to take control of Camp and ran out of room when Nathan held his racing line (polite way of saying Nathan put me on the grass but I probably shouldn’t have been trying the Buffalo Girl manoeuvre anyway so my own fault)
Not sure what happened at the Gooseneck but she understeered onto the grass and went all kind of shapes and had me knitting socks to keep her on. Somehow Paul Lawrie came past as I was having my accident (I would have stayed well clear) so I was down to 5th. A naughty boy flag followed which I wasn’t surprised about. I acknowledged it by slapping myself on the wrist as I passed.
I passed Paul around Coppice and was clear by Charlies but by now I was three seconds behind Nathan here so started to concentrate and reeled him in slowly; his car handling and pulling away better than mine but mine has that extra poke at the end of the straights and I was able to get level on the start straight and take Nath on the outside of Coppice with a good line into Charlies. Looking in the mirror, I could see both sides of Nathan’s car so he must have had a bit of a tank slapper, possibly the draft as I went past so quick