OULTON PARK RACE REPORT
I thought it would be a fire cracker and it didn’t disapoint. From the front to the back of the grid there was really exciting and close racing. Having an early start meant having a damp track early on in the morning but it was clear that the sun was out to play. With a grid of 20 cars and a drying track the action began with Qually at 9am.
After a late in the day pow wow the Dulford Auto/Furious TVR Momentum race team decided to not put on new slicks as intended and instead we opted for the race rubber we used in Spa last time out. Mainly it was felt that I would get the car working better in the colder temperatures of an early morning session,with the used rubber I knew was in really good condition. I was aware that last year an early start meant the grip would be harder to find so the first 4 or 5 laps were spent steadily getting quicker and quicker and as it turned out the grip levels for me were really good. The car was moving around going through Druids but all in all I was able to push on harder and on lap 8 of my nine I recorded a time of 1:55.532 and good for 6th fastest on row 3 with an average lap speed of 83.88 mph.
As the lights went out I had a really good start,a little to good as I had jump started. Those few seconds when you re dip the clutch to try to stop rolling tell you, you are to early and that puts you on the back foot mentally not just the car. We were adjudged to have gained a place unfairly at the first corner but as we got going into the first lap I lost the place,it was decided that the minimum 10 second penalty would be to harsh and I was told by the clerk of the course to pay more attention to the lights in race two. The leading cars were very quick out of the blocks and I was under a lot of pressure from car 20 behind me that lasted the whole race. I was quick in some parts of the lap with car 20 quicker in other parts and I had a hectic race long battle with Dean Cook in his new car. Some parts of the lap I was several car lengths in front in others Dean was on my bumper trying to force a mistake. I held the racing line most of the laps but was having to be defensive into a couple of corners,oulton park is not a particularly wide circuit so it is quite difficult to find a way round a car that is well positioned into the entry and exit out of corners. I crossed the line taking the chequered flag in 6th on track ,fourth in class “A”. A good result with a fastest lap of 1:52.014 and average speed up to 84.97 mph.
I was on the second row of the grid on the out side,as the lights went out this time I had a strong start and I was paying attention to the lights,it wouldn’t do to jump start twice in a row which would have been robustly punished. As the pack turned into turn one I was bumped hard by a fast starting car 22 from behind suffering some body damage but exited in third place. The first two cars were hooked up from the off and there was no way I could stay on there pace. A few laps later Dean Cook got by into lodge up the inside under a late and heavy braking move. The pace up front was very quick and I had the attentions of Hui Marshall in car 3 all race long again. We slowly reeled in the lead car running 2nd and third. Two laps to go Hui and I were side by side cresting into cascades on the limit, this was door mirror to door mirror racing. I braked a few seconds later than him and came out of turn 2, three car lengths infront. I held this gap until the last corner on the last lap when I saw Hui move again and was up along side me on the outside going into the braking zone. I braked at the same time as Hui but as I had the inside and racing line into the apex it was not going to be possible for hui to stay along side as he would have run out of track and onto the grass. At the speed you enter Lodge this would be a no no, as he dropped back to have a run to the line he spun out,going into the tyre wall. It is as I say a fast corner,I am glad to say he is ok, if a little shaken and a reminder to me that “ Motor Racing Can Be Dangerous”. I crossed the line in second place in class “A” with my lap time down to 1:50.145 an excellent way to end the season. I must pass on my thanks to the Dulford Automotive team who have taken care of me and my cars all season long doing a first class job. Special thank you’s to Mike my lead mechanic and I look forward to racing with you next year.
RACE REPORT SPA FRANCORCHAMPS
Well what can you say about the most memorable four days at Spa ,I’ve had. I won would be a good point as any I surpose. Arriving in the paddock on Thursday afternoon was the start of an epic trip for me. It was a” first come first served “to get a slot in Fridays open test day. I went early to the office at race control and as luck would have it I booked a 1.40 hour slot starting at 10.10 am on Friday morning. Great I would have a little more seat time as I have only driven the Rover car once before, last month at Silverstone. Things went pretty well just a small wiring issue effecting the shift light and scrubbing a new set of slicks in ready for Qually on Saturdayay at 9.10am.
This was all I could have wanted clear blue skies and roasting hot sun. This is what makes fast laps come a little easier. So new slicks ,dry warm day and me feeling really racy this should go well I was thinking and it did. We were carrying a full 60lts of fuel, not ideal for a fast lap but as we have had so little time in the car we had no clue’s as to what the fuel consumption was. so on Friday’s practice I posted a time of 2.54.00 sec my target was to get below the 2.50.00.I ended up with a pleasing 5th on the grid with a time of 2:51.375 this was excellent on a full tank of fuel. Andy my team mate in car 89 got a 2:46.895 2nd row of the grid with me just a couple of cars back and with a rolling start set for the race, I was brimming with confidence.
One hour endurance race:
Again the sun gods were on my side, race day dawned blue skies and warm, what more could you ask for your first race on Europe’s premier race circuit. I was right up for this and thought I would do well. I have not done a rolling start before so I had done plenty of watching other race video’s so I knew the theory and it went well for me. I was on the inside line to the first corner which I don’t favour as it is really hard to defend from attacks from outside and behind. I tucked under the wing of the Radical in front on the turn into La Source hair pin, only to have two cars drive round the outside of me as I had to wait for the radical. Heading into turn two Eue Rouge was amazing and I knew I would be quick as I exited over the top I was flying ,Fantastic. Onto Kemmel straight and down into Les Combes I out braked the two cars that took me at the start so back to 5th.Double Gauche was also Fantastic,a double apex left, very fast and down hill what a great feeling of been on the ragged edge.Blanchimont is a flat out straight with a slight kink in it and on my way through there I was no dought going as fast as I have ever cornered in a TVR Tuscan. Hard on the brakes into the chicane that leads onto the start/finish straight and my first racing lap of Spa was done and in 5th place as I started, result. I got into a good zone for lapping for an hour and my lap times were in the 2:48,s and dropping every lap till on lap 9 I did my fastest lap of the race in a” big grin” time of 2:46.757.A car had a big off at “ Fania” and the safety car came out on lap 10.Most seized the opportunity to pit for fuel. My lead pit man Mike kept me out as I had a lot of fuel on board and wasn’t planning on stopping till over half way through. This proved to be an excellent call and I jumped to the lead under the safety car period and 2 laps later the race was stopped as it was to dangerous to continue. I crossed the line in FIRST place and well deserved a win. It doesn,t get much better than that in your first race at the world famous awe-inspiring Spa Francorchamps Circuit .A very well done to my team mate Andy in car 89 he had not had the luck during the safety car laps but none the less showed he is a formidable team mate who pushes me ever upwards on the lap charts.I must thank my team Dulford Auto who did an excellent job with me and the car all weekend, a cracking group of people who really know there stuff ,they won the race for me.
Silverstone Race Report
Due to a few late technical issues back at base my first time in the car was from the pit garage to the assembly area prior to the start of qually due to be 3o mins. Thats not ideal but as I’m more used to a lot more power I was confident we would go well. The rain forecast did not disappoint us and as qually started it was raining quite hard. We had decided to put on the road tyres I have to act as wet weather tyres. Well ”Bambi on ice” springs to mind. The grip levels were pretty poor and on turn in the car just under steered so badly we were hardly moving. We had decided to do 5 laps to get on the grid and then come in to adjust tyre pressures,so as I came into the pit we decided to put on the new intermediate tyres. Havingg a 30 minute session ment we had time to go back out to get three or four quick lapsin. So having only 6 laps to bed tyres in and get a time we were really pleased we had qualified 21st out of 26 cars,in a time of 1:21.39.That does not sound great but I had never driven the car before,no knowledge of road tyres on a race Tuscan let alone it was pouring with rain and remember this car has not raced on circuit for 19 years,so you can see why we were pleased.
So sitting towards the back of the grid with a dry to damp track felt strangely comforting as having never raced this car before I was glad that we did not have the intense action into turn one you get nearer the front of the grid. Famous last words,as the lights went out I hooked the car up really well and we powered past five cars before we had even crossed the start line. Changing into third and heading for the first corner another gap opened up on the inside and I got through onto the back of the lead pack. Wow that was incredible even though I knew I would loose a couple of places to some slow starting cars it was a big grin inside the helmet of car 60.As the laps clicked by I settled into a great battle with a porsche 994 turbo which lasted for the next 20 laps changing places two and sometimes three times a lap. He was a little quicker in some turns I was a little better on the brakes in others,excellent fun. Just after the pit stop the rain came down and at one stage I could see the lightening at the back of the circuit. Thee pit stop was for a change of driver but as I was doing the race on my own I had to come to a stop, turn engine off , unbelt the harnesses, get out the car and close the door then get back in again, belt up and rejoin therace. This adds a bit of interest and Colin my mechanic for the day did a superb job, as neither of us had done a driver change stop before.30 minutes in and it was blind faith needed as we came into the braking zones it was hammering down I have never raced in this heavy rain before and trying to see where my braking points were was challenging to say the least. The car was really good to drive and surprisingly stable straight out of the garage.Plenty of power and handling well, it looks good for the big race of the year at Spa Francorchamp in two weeks time in this car.
I qualified in 21st with a 1:21.39 and I finished 9th with a 1:09.70 on lap 14 just gotta love that