We arrived on a damp Friday afternoon, unloaded, scrutineered the cars and put them back in the trailer as we knew the weather forecast was not good. Our chosen hotel was in Chippenham. We all agreed that a nice meal and an early night was in order to ensure we would be ready for our early start on Saturday.
As expected Mike was last down stairs and the weather extremely cold and wet. On arrival at the circuit it was still cold and wet. We unloaded the cars and prepared to get wet. While waiting in the assembly area it started to hail and the temperature dropped even lower. We eventually moved off on to the circuit. I was the 4th car out and wanted to follow Ray Mallock to learn from the professional. So I passed two cars and followed Ray, it was immediately clear that following Ray gave me no visibility, so I passed him and drove at my own pace. I was feeling that all was going well, but then a car lost a wheel, de came stranded on a fast corner and we were shown a red flag. Ray and I returned to the assembly area, but the rest of the pack incorrectly stopped on the starting line. Once the offending car was recovered qualifying carried on but I was now with the slower cars and had trouble seeing the correct line. We all finished safely and waited for the results. Not surprisingly Stuart Roach (rain master) was on pole. I was very pleased with 2nd, Ray 3rd, Mark Woodhouse 4th and Mike 5th. Mark had broken a half shaft, was unable to start the race and so Mike inherited 4th position.
The weather had greatly improved by the time of our race. As always the red lights went out and Mike and I dropped back from our start positions. Both Mike and I passed two cars before Quarry corner putting us into 3rd and 4th. Stuart was my next goal but was extremely hard to pass. With courage I out braked him into Camp corner and pulled away down the straight. However Stuart hadn’t given up and as we caught slower cars he took every opportunity to pressurize me into making a mistake. I did eventually pull away from Stuart and start to catch Ray. Although I achieved the fastest lap of the race and a lap record it was too late to overhaul Ray. I finished a good 2nd. Mike caught Stuart but also ran out of time to get passed. He had the excuse of being extra careful as he and the car are now bound for Monaco.
It is early days, but it seems that the modifications we were forced to do over the winter, (shortening the wheel base and reducing the track) have had no effect on our performance. Perhaps we should be thanking the bureaucrats who run the associations or perhaps not. They have cost us a great deal of time and money and reduced the originality of our cars.
1st Ray Mallock
2nd Andrew Tart
3rd Stuart Roach
4th Mike Walker