We may have missed Round 4 at Mallory, but Rounds 5 and 6 would prove a challenge as we visited Donington for the first time. Sticky brakes, a new circuit to learn and 46 competitors would make it a challenging weekend…..
Arriving on Friday evening, we had the opportunity to walk the circuit, something which I find invaluable when its my first time at a venue. What surprised us most about Donington was how hilly it was, and how fast it looked. The paddock was huge, the run off areas ample, and the corners fast, looking like late apexing would be the order of the day.
After having minor braking issues at Cadwell and Snetterton, we had chosen to give the whole system a good service, from calipers to discs, shoes, cylinders and even the bias bar. We set it up in the workshop how we though it should be and decided we would adjust between races as necessary. However, Saturday morning qualifying saw the car pulling badly to the left despite all our efforts to correct the problem. (Un)luckily the session was called to a halt after just a few laps with a red flag and entering the pitlane, I conveyed the problem to Brian and a swift change of brake balabce to the rear saw an immediate improvement. We went out agian, cautiously on the brakes. Towards the end of the session the problem had almost disappeared – at least I wasnt having the car trying to throw me off the black stuff whenever I came to a braking zone.
Disappointed with qualifying, i was surprised to see that we had managed 24th for Race 1 (so 14th on the grid for Heat 1) and 20th for Race 2 on Sunday (10th on the grid for Heat 2). Things were looking up.
Heat 1 got underway with little issue, but shortly into the race there was a coming together under Starkeys Bridge after the Old Hairpin which saw a large shunt between Vicky Pickles (#71) and Glenn Boyer (#93) which resulted in both cars badly damaged and Vicky somewhat bruised. Vicky has had a run of bad luck this year, I hope that is her seasons worth all used up and she will look ahead to a better 2nd half of the year.
Following the restart, I finished in a reasonable 9th putting me 19th on the grid in the final that afternoon.
I have yet to find a way to get picture-in-picture from my 2 on board cameras, so I am afraid its one video for each of the front and rearward facing cameras:
The afternoon flew by and it was a pleasure to again spend time with Tony Southgate, a true legend of motorsport, before jumping back into the car for the Final.
Starting in 19th I was hopefuly of getting closer towards the top 10, but 16th was the best I could manage. Again, videos below:
For Sunday I felt I could do a little better, starting Heat 2 in 10th place. It was a great race, and a close one, but I failed to reach the Podium, ending in 5th after a bit of late braking on the last lap round Redgate to grab that place from Matt Gilmour (#55). I would like to say it was skill and not luck that kept me on the circuit as I banzai’d up the inside into turn 1, but that would be a lie. Watching the video, I left the downshift to 3rd until almost the apex and this unsettled the back end bringing it round at the perfect moment to enable me to get round the corner rather than head wide at the exit. If only I could overtake like that every time!
I was really pleased with 5th in the heat, and even more so when I saw the results sheet and that I had managed fastest lap out of 36 with a 1m 29.92s
Starting the final in 15th I was hopeful of bettering my best finish so far which was 10th at Snetterton. It was a strange race, split by a red flag after Sam Gill (#40) had to take th the large kerbs in the chicane and unbeknown, left a trail of oil over almost the whole lap.
It didnt look to me as if there was a countback, but I may well be wrong on that. What was more surprising was being told we would get another green flag lap (to assess the oil/cement dust) and then there would be 5 minutes of racing plus 1 lap. Off we went from the grid, and you will see in the following video just how bad the visibility was. 2 laps in and it was all over to my surprise, and that of fellow Locosters that were still racing after the flag had dropped, not expecting to even see the last lap board at that point.I am afraid we failed to record on the rear view camera for the Final, but the front view should entertain you….
So, it all seemed to be over far too soon, and I finished 11th, one spot from my best finish to date, but on a circuit I had never been to before and with the problems we had in qualifying. We are really looking forward to Snetterton at the end of the month now, and hopefully we can achieve a solid top 10 finish.