Race Report, Brands Hatch - 27th June 2004
05:00 ï¿½ Far too early in the morning.
I havenï¿½t slept, just kind of closed my eyes for long periods without ever quite reaching unconsciousness. However Iï¿½m up nice and early, load my equipment into the car and off to pick up some friends.
I arrive at Brands Hatch, been here plenty of times and maybe a little too confident when practise and qualifying come around, we were the first out so no time to get too nervous! So off we go, everyone there is very friendly and all willing to point out certain tips and tricks. Off onto the circuit and trying to get used to the car, it had been a wee while since Iï¿½d driven a MR2 and somehow the car still didnï¿½t feel too comfortable on the limit.
So as Steve quite enjoyed pointing out I had a couple of excursions into the gravel at the bottom of Paddock Hill bend, one of the slippiest and daunting corners on the Indy circuitï¿½ The first time I knew I had the entry perfect! Nice and early to get a fast sweeping arc, this is where I felt the car wasï¿½ ï¿½interestingï¿½, normally as the car approaches the level of grip all 4 wheels will drift across the circuit, however the car felt like it was snaking back and forth, so I ran too wide, then again trying to get a clean fast line through paddock. Unfortunately this ended up giving me a puncture in the front nearside tyre, I managed to finish a couple of laps before coming inï¿½ Thank God for Matt Jenkins (I owe him several pints for that!) who lent me his spare.
After this I decided to drop the tyre pressures by 2 PSI all round to try and get a little more grip.
So only managed to qualify 3rd out of the 4 (I heard mention that there was 5 but my head still spinning from the experience), so off we go after much waiting and anticipation, to line up in the assembly area.
Then weï¿½re lead out to the grid and shown our spot, sitting right at the back I was at least safe for my first ever standing start! I can feel the sweat on my head, my gloves battling my leaking hands! The 10 second board is shown then the lights are red and the revï¿½s everywhere start to rise! The light go and weï¿½re off! I managed to get a pretty good start managed to stay in front of the white car, Matt just in front and the McLaren car shooting off! Paddock and Druids we just insane with that much traffic, truly an amazing experience!
Once the tyre smoke had cleared, I was sitting in 3rd right behind Matt with the white car right behind! As I was struggling with the handling of the car I was managing to keep pace, but the times I was feathering the throttle to keep the car on the black stuff (much to Steveï¿½s dismay!) Matt was able to feed in some more power. After a few laps I see the white car behind spin in a cloud of smoke at Paddock I knew I was in the clear and just needed to keep it going, try and reel in Matt. However every corner he could just get the power down and pull the little bit away.
This is pretty much how it stayed for the rest of the race, obviously getting lapped by the much (read ï¿½ much much much!) faster cars. All I was thinking was to not make any mistakes and keep up the pace! So crossing the line was a relief and exhilarating knowing that your first ever race has been survived! And then as a pleasant surprise I receive a trophy for 3rd place which is already getting a great amount of sentimental attachment.
However while I struggled with the car it has bitten me! I would like to take this opportunity to say sincerest thanks to everyone in the club and Red Dragon Racing for this amazing opportunity, and so of course I MUST do this for myself! Iï¿½ll be handing the car back with a new (scrubbed) tyre and as ready to race as can be and will be spending the next 6 weeks leading up to Mallory preparing my car which will be purchased shortly.
6 weeks is plenty of time for anyone to get prepared so if Peter or Rob will not take up the challenge there are many more people who could and certainly should be given this great opportunity to get into racing for a realistic budget!
So come on one and all! Live that childhood dream, be a racing driver!!! We get enough of us to have a own race and not be a mobile chicane for the faster cars and it will be an excellent series focusing on driving skill than depth of pockets!
See you all on the black stuff at Mallory!
For more info: http://www.reddragonautomotive.com/