Had a really good weekend at Rockingham. Saturday I had the honour of driving Alec’s Prize Motorsport Roadster and given carte blanche to give it the beans.
I treated it with a bit of respect in qualifying whilst trying to learn its characteristics and make sure I didn’t embed it in the gravel.
Nippon Race 1
I was driving it in a neat and tidy fashion despite which the back end was insistent on stepping out on the corners but with the benefit of a slippy diff and a few extra donkeys in the boot this was easily controllable in an Escort Mk2 sort of way so I soon had the measure of it. A puff of smoke engulfed the *censored* (why has it censored c0ckp1t?) at one point so I backed off and headed for the pit lane. Between Piff Paff and the pit lane, whatever the problem was had seemed to cure itself and the smoke quickly dissipated. I checked the gauges and carried on behind Paul Callaway in the now class leading Mk1. I was able to easily slide the car through the corners as quick as Paul but with the extra grunt was able to pull alongside him quite easily but the profusion of yellow flags and even a rogue Safety Car board on the last lap meant that I had to leave any passing manoeuvres until late in the lap and a Buffalo Girl at the Tarzan Hairpin gave me the slingshot for a drag race down School Straight which the Mk3 was always going to win. The smoke, it turned out; was a drive shaft boot splitting and spitting the grease onto the exhaust and various other locations about the engine bay.
Nippon Race 2
Was a slightly different affair as I’d decided to take up the offer of the beans and see how quick the car would go. I was sort of keeping up with some of the GT200s but was slowly dropped and ended up racing in no-man’s land but able to string some good laps together.
Was absolutely terrible as the car dropped onto three cylinders just as I hit the race track at the end of the pit lane and no amount of revving or blipping was going to cure it. I did a couple of laps so that the pit crew who were stood on the top of the garage could see me struggle by, and by the time I pulled into the pits after the second they were stood there waiting. All the plug leads checked and the car seemed to clear up a bit but slumped back to three pots under load. I did the out lap, a “quick” lap, if you can call it that on three cylinders; and an in lap then took the car straight back to the paddock for a coat of looking at. The car went through a number of checks including compression (which drew quite a crowd of interested on-lookers) but a clean set of plugs was installed and the leads cleaned and the valley between the cams dried out and she was running sweet as a nut again.
MR2 Race 1
Would be a familiar affair for me as my last start at Rockingham was from the back of the grid. I had battles with most of the field on the way to 6th overall, my apologies to Paul Lawrie for the tap into the haipin. By the finish, I was in sight of the leaders and only a second off the podium. It was also nice to get back into a Mk1 which was like putting an old boot on with the comfortable and familiar handling of the car.
MR2 Race 2
A good start meant that I was immediately through into fourth and in the wake of Adam Lockwood who had invented a new defensive tactic of spraying my car with petrol so that I couldn’t see. I’d figured out that he would soon be out of fuel and sure enough he began to get surge and I was through. New boy Danny Briant was my next target and I may well have passed him had the opportunity arisen but with a load of yellow flags, an oil slick the whole length of the circuit, a safety car and some sterling defensive driving from a bloke with a novice cross on the back of his car, I was resigned to; but pleased with third overall.