Another trek and another ferry from the sunny Isle of Wight and we had arrived in Pembrey for the Friday testing. A few other locosts had the same idea, hoping to set their cars up for the weekend on a circuit that is more interesting than at first appearance.
The weather was dry and bright, and the first couple of test sessions saw the times start to tumble from 1:13’s, to 1:12’s. With some fettling with the shock settings, tyre pressures and ride heights, improvements started to come as the day progressed, finally managing some good times in the very low 1:11’s by the last session. Confidence was high for Heat #1 the following day, but things were about to turn out a little different…..
Saturday morning saw a wet qualifying session and what a difference that made despite setting up for wet conditions. I chose to run with the dry race tyres which were only scrubbed in the day before, and this wasnt a bad choice as there appeared to be reasonable grip, and enough tread to disperse the water on circuit. I hadn’t raced in the wet before on wet settings and tip-toed around. Lapping at a reasonable pace and catching up #55 who is always fast, I felt I was putting in enough to get a reasonable position on the grid. However, Matt in #55 was having huge issues with fogged glasses and was not putting in his usual fast times and by the end of the session I had qualified just 23rd for both heats.
Heat #1 soon came round and we waited in Assembly ready for to get on the circuit. By the time we got down to business I was also suffering from fogging issues and had trouble seeing where I was going for around the first 3 laps, finally starting to make some progress but finishing a disappointing 17th from 20th on the grid – certainly not as many places as I should have made up.
The 17th from the heat popped me in 20th for the first Final which was the following morning, and I had hopes that the weather would change and bring a dry circuit, and my confidence to press on would return
Sunday morning saw a damp circuit and a change again to the set up on the car, firming up the shocks a little and leaving the arb disconnected. Progress was a little better during the race, finishing 12th from 20th.
Then, it was on to the second Heat of the weekend and a nice dry circuit had appeared. Starting 20th on the grid, a great race followed on our dry settings from Friday, and a finish in 10th place with a reasonable lap time of 1:10.91. For the first time this weekend the camera actually decided to work.
I was quite happy with starting the second Final from 13th, but things soon went wrong when on the first lap a large accident involving a few cars saw me take to the tarmac/gravel run off to avoid damage. Looking across I could see bodywork and what looked like 3 cars on the circuit and presumed a red flag would ensue. What a stupid decision to arrive at, as by the time I had pootled across the rallycross course to rejoin expecting to see red flags, none were being displayed. Schoolboy error, as they say! That left me on the first lap in dead last with 15 seconds to the next competitor. I almost called it a day, but decided I should at least try to enjoy the last session on track despite being mightily angry with myself. I had a reasonable drive over the next 16 laps finishing in the end in 19th out of 28 starters, so not too bad and certainly a lesson learned.
A quick exit from the circuit saw us making the 10.15pm ferry and home just after midnight, knackered, but at least the car was in one piece.
Next race – Cadwell Park on Sunday 9th October for the season close. Lets see if we can get a reasonable finish this time!