2020 Saw us competing again in the 750MC Sports Specials championship, this time in Class B with the SEWC Motorsport SubZero. We had high hopes, but like most things in motorsport, it wouldn’t be straightforward trying to win the championship……….
As many of you will know I have competed for over 10 years with the 750 Motor Club, circuit racing in the Sports Specials Championship most recently.
Last year I ran in class A against cars with up to 340bhp/tonne and had some success, mainly when it was a wet race, culminating in a 3rd and 4th at Snetterton at the end of 2019. The 750MC have a Maha rolling road they bring to events and I was chosen to be tested against the class limit of 340/T. I knew I was below this but was surprised to find out by how much – with 204.6bhp and the car weighed with me in it, it came out at 279bhp/tonne. I certainly felt good about beating several class A cars that were running at 340/T, but as the class B limit is only 270bhp/tonne I decided to add some ballast into the car over last winter and have a go at Class B.
Interestingly, adding around 25kg to the passenger side as near to the rear wheel as possible has actually improved the car through the corners in my opinion and brought me out at 269/tonne.
Obviously it would be a shortened season this year and with just 8 races planned rather than the original 14 and only 1 dropped score allowed rather than the usual 2, it would be imperative to be reliable and avoid and DNF’s.
Rounds 1 and 2 were held at Snetterton on the 200 circuit in July and I managed to qualify in the wet in 4th overall for race 1 and 3rd for race 2. By the time we got to the grid for race 1, the sun was out and everything had dried completely so I knew I would end up dropping back against the faster Class A cars, the plan being to ensure I didn’t get caught by any Class B’s. A cracking race ensued and I managed to take the class win by 6 seconds and an extra point for fastest lap.
Race 2 saw me starting from 3rd and after a poor start dropping back to 10th, I managed to make up a few places and take back the Class B lead in 6th overall. Lap 10 would see all that change. Coming into the 2nd corner hairpin I lost all power and coasted to halt on the grass on the infield and felt a cold liquid on my legs. I popped my visor up to see if I could smell fuel as it was unlikely to be coolant or oil and whoosh! One fireball later and the marshals efficiently putting the fire on my left leg out and 4 extinguishers to put out the fire on the car and I was left with singed eyebrows and eyelashes and a very damaged car and race suit. Of course, I was more annoyed about having got a DNF when I was leading the race!
Back at SEWC HQ Ryan helped massively in the rebuild. An ally aeroquip fitting into the fuel rail had sheared spraying petrol over the scuttle and under a gap onto my legs, setting fire to a fair bit of the car. Luckily I had killed the power as I had coasted to a stop and whilst the looms for the engine, digi-dash and Dunnell ecu were toast, the ecu and digi-dash itself were fine. It was a mission getting the car ready for Rounds 3 and 4 at Silverstone but we managed to get everything finished and loaded and arrived at Silverstone 5 minutes before the gates closed on the Friday evening – but things were going to be far from straightforward.
Saturday morning arrived and we fired the car up no problem, but on the way to assembly had a terrible misfire. There was no chance of fixing this as qualifying was starting and I managed to get my 3 laps in at part throttle, qualifying pretty much last. Back in the pits we tried everything to fix the misfire, changing plugs, leads, coil packs, fuel pressure and even played around with the throttle bodies, but it was not meant to be. We ended up watching both races from the above the Wing pits and thinking about what should have been a successful race weekend. Result was two “DNS – Did Not Start” on the time sheets – the first time ever this has happened to me.
Back at SEWC HQ the problem was found – restriction in the new fuel line fittings which had been changed from ally to steel – easily fixed with some bigger bore fittings. Car loaded again and it was off to Snetterton again for Rounds 5 & 6, this time on the 300 circuit.
Qualifying went well, no issues with the car and popping it on pole for class B in both races with a new lap record. Race 1 saw me stretch out a reasonable lead in class before going wide at the exit of Bombhole and letting seasoned racer, 70 year old Colin Benham past in his well developed Fury. The next few laps saw us dicing for the lead until my nearside wing stay yet again decided to semi-part company leaving my cycle wing rubbing through a brand new tyre and leaving a trail of blue smoke in my wake. I eased off realising it was better to finish 2nd than not at all and managed to stay ahead of 3rd place to take some valuable points, but the tyre was pretty shot!
Race 2 saw me again on pole for class B by 2 seconds and determined not to make any silly errors. After a good start I was able to gap Colin by 6 seconds despite the rather 2nd had front left tyre, before bringing the car home for the win.
Final rounds would see us at Oulton Park, my favourite circuit, and it was destined to be a very wet weekend, which I normally love. SubZero is a great car in the dry but with the new suspension sorted by Matt at Procomp Motorsport, I seem to be able to soften the car up far more than others can, and knowing where to find the grip really helps too. Having driven the car out of the trailer with no issues, we went to fire it up to go to qualifying only to find the master switch fell apart! Dan rushed to race control to let them know I would be trying to get out in the session at some point and I started to disassemble the dash to get to the wiring and fit the spare master. Just managed to get everything together and again Dan ran to race control to let them know I would be going out. It was imperative to get the 2 laps I needed in for the grid positions as otherwise I faced starting either from the back or even the pit lane! A quick dash through assembly and out on the track saw exactly two flying laps before the chequered was out and I had qualified, albeit in 3rd in class for both races and 10th overall.
The weather certainly didn’t let up for race 1 and I quickly made up places to take the lead in class. I pressed on, at times not being able to identify any sort of braking zone for the spray in front as I battled with the class A front group, finally bringing the car home for the Class B win, 5th overall and splitting 2nd and 3rd in class A along with fastest lap. Great result, albeit rather scary at times.
Race 2 and the last race of the season. A win was needed to secure 2nd overall in the class B championship and I lined up on the grid with high hopes of making up the places. Starting is usually one of my strong points but on this occasion, I was rather cautious of too much wheelspin in the wet conditions and the car bogged down badly losing several places. I immediately pressed on, taking 6 spaces back on lap 1 and pushing the traction to its limit in the very wet conditions. Safety car came out following Colin having an off into the barrier and I knew I just needed to get in front of Justin Cox in his Caterham on the restart. The lights went green as we approached the start line 2 laps later and it was back to trying to take the lead. Justin seemed to be pressing on well but it wasn’t long before I was able to pass and by the end of the race had stretched out a 26s lead to take the class win and coast home the last 2 laps watching the class A cars battle for 2nd place in front of me. I knew they were chasing championship points so stayed out of the battle and followed them home. Again fastest lap was in the bag for an extra championship point.
It seemed such a short season this year and a bit disappointing to not take the championship but I am very happy with 2nd given the issues we encountered this year. A massive thanks to Dan and also to Ryan without whom I wouldn’t have had the success we have enjoyed. Bring on 2021!