Mallory Park September 2009

Unfortunately, Matt had blown his funds at Snetterton so the last two rounds I was on my own. My car had been on a diet since Snetterton as we’d analysed that I was losing most of my speed in the very fast turn 1 where my car would lean and drift when others were planted firmly to the deck. I’d had a dream about the qualifying session that I came in 5th and was looking forward to this immensely. I had the advantage of having driven the circuit before as well so imagine my disappointment when I qualified 17th. Still I was just over half way down the 30 strong field and it’s only my second event in the series so mustn’t grumble.

Race 1 and I was off to what had now become my customary start, catapulting myself up the pit wall and into Gerrards up the inside and making it stick on the way round. The demise of a couple of the top runners also helped my cause but to be 9th overall and watching the brake lights of the leader into Gerrards was quite an achievement. By lap 2, I’d discovered a minor problem and put it down to bad driving but as we exited the hairpin, the cars in front scampered away and by the finish line I was over a second down on them. A good line and keeping my speed through Gerrards gave me good speed on the back straight and I carried this into the Esses where I was right on the back of car 11, Shane Wright. By the hairpin, I was able to have a look up the inside but abandoned any overtaking move I had in mind and then once again they scarpered off. Lap three saw Jason Jesse embedded in the Armco near the hairpin so I was 8th. On lap 4, Jon Winter was on a charge and had dislodged me back to 9th and on lap 5, usual front runner Ross Stoner had made his way from the back of the grid and pushed me further back. So I stayed in 10th for a couple of laps until Winter took to the grass and handed me back my 9th place. The next five laps were spent desperately trying to pass Chris Shackle and Shane Wright who were battling for 7th, whilst trying to fend off the charging Mark Scott in car 40 who finally got the better on me on lap 11. For the next four laps, we enjoyed an eight car battle for what in effect was 6th place and I managed to gain at least three places on the final lap before the red flags came out following an accident where Roger Pullen suffered a broken leg, but the results were declared after lap 14 leaving me a quite respectable 10th.

Race 2 had me on the fifth row of the grid and well in sight of the leaders. My usual legendary start would have had me in the lead but alas it wasn’t to be. I did manage to make up a place and was elevated to 8th on lap 5 as Chris Shackle spun out but by this time, I’d been joined by a couple of series front runners in the form of Jason Jesse and Alex Gassman who were making their way up from lower grid spots due to indiscretions in the first race. I thought it would be polite to let them through but then thought bugger it. If they want to get past they’ll have to work for it. By lap 7, Gassman was past and on lap 8 so was Jesse and with Arron Pulen retiring car 26 I was back down to 9th but able to comfortably keep with the two chargers who were now stuck behind a battling Shane Wright and Mark Scott.

On lap 10, Alex took a quite unexpected turn towards the grass on the outside of the Esses and I was carrying a hell of a lot of speed so took a dive up the inside of Jesse for seventh but as Alex rejoined and Jesse lined himself up for the hairpin, there wasn’t enough room for three abreast and myself and Alex ended up swapping quite a bit of paint. I exited the hairpin in 6th place but in what had now become a customary slow exit speed, I was passed by Shane, Alex and Jason to finish the lap back in ninth and back on my charge around the outside of Gerrards trying to catch back up. Although I kept it nailed, things didn’t seem right with the car and a very lairy slide around the lefthander at the esses confirmed that I had a right rear puncture. I made my way onto the grass around devils elbow and retired the car into the pits feeling slightly disappointed despite the adrenaline still pumping freely through my veins.

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