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A hard won point at Combe

Race Report – Castle Combe 28th May

 

After a stormy night on Sunday the day started wet but with a possibility of drier weather to come. We were out on the track for qualifying at 09:15 am so that meant an early start. We had spent some time since the last race fitting lights to the front of the car to help make it more visible when lapping slower cars, this is always tricky when there are such differences in speed between the different classes of cars

 

Qualifying

 The track was still wet by the time we lined up in the paddock for the start of the session although it had stopped raining. Out on the circuit I found some parts of the track were beginning to dry out, this makes life interesting as you have to try and remember where the wet areas are and where you can push harder. We had set the car up for wet weather and I was beginning to wonder if we had made the right call. Once I’d got the first three laps done to make sure we qualified I started to push the car harder, I found that the Dunlop wets we were using worked really well in these conditions but I had to try and find some wet lines on the straights to avoid overheating the tyres. At the end of the session I felt I had a good time but thought I could have gone faster. Checking the timing sheet I found we were on Pole! A first at Combe.

 

Race

The weather was dry for the race but the clouds were looking threatening – A dry set up for the car but it would be ‘exciting’ if it rained….

As I took my place on the grid, it was nice to see a clear track in front of me. The Escort Cosworth was alongside in 2nd, the benefit of 4wd had put it ahead of all of the Class A cars, it was going to be an interesting first lap. I made a better start for a change, the two leading Class A cars got past on the power up to Quarry, I slotted in behind the Cosworth in 4th. I nipped past and took 3rd on the exit. So at the end of lap 1 I was in 3rd place and keeping place with the Jade of Guy Woodward. Rob Clarke made an excellent start and I could see him in my mirrors. The next few laps were good fun, Rob was gaining and passed me on the entry into Quarry, he nearly lost it on the exit and it slowed him a little. We were side by side going up to the Esses but I had the inside line, and managed to out brake him – back to 3rd.  Rob tried the same move at Quarry a lap or so later, this time he came in too fast and could not make the move stick. He had a huge slide on the exit but managed to avoid a spin, and I took back the place. We were now in amongst the slower cars. Coming Bobbies I managed to close right up on the 1st and 2nd place cars who were badly baulked by one of the Red 360 Ferraris. As we got on to the straight up to Camp the Ferrari was in the middle of the track. I went left and the other two went right.  If the slower car had carried on straight it would have been a great move…. The Ferrari veered left and drove me off the track on to the grass. The car took a huge jolt as it hit a divot but carried on. I managed to get back on to the black stuff without spinning. I carried on but there clearly some damage to the car. Rob Clarke and the Mallock both got past  I caught back up to the Ferrari at Camp, s I turned in to the corner I knew there was going to be trouble as the front end did not want to go were I wanted it to. Huge understeer put me on the grass at the exit but once again I was lucky and did not spin it. As I recovered I saw the pace car was out and fell into place behind the Ferrari, still in 5th place. Next lap round I saw the 23 sign from one of the race officials and knew that the damage to the car must be bad enough for them to call me in. In the pits Steve and mark Set about making the bodywork (That was left) secure with the races best friend – gaffer tape. All this seemed to take for ever but I got back out again convinced I was in last place. The pace car pulled off and I spent the last two laps trying to at least get the car home.

 

Thanks to the fantastic work of Steve and Mark and the fact that the pace car was out we only lost a lap. I finished in 12th place overall and managed to get a point for 6th in class. We might need that one point by the end of the season as Rob had a great race and finished 3rd overall.

 

The damage to the car was not good, the whole of the lower front was missing, including the dive planes and splitter, no wonder it was under steering. We now have 4 weeks to get the damage sorted out before the next race…..

 

What a shame Ferraris don’t have mirrors. Perhaps once you have spent all that money on the car the extra cost is just too much J