This weekend wasn’t the early start it usually is for the trip to Brands. We were lucky with the timetable meaning that we could wake at normal time and make our way down, arriving at the circuit 10.00am. Things were well underway on arrival, with the circuit roaring with the thunderous booms of V8’s and the sun beaming down. It was a beautiful day.
Qualifying was a little later on in the day, so we could take things quite gently. Armed with a cup of tea I reminded myself of the track layout, having never before driven the full GP circuit. This meant qualifying would be important, testing the waters, finding the ideal line and establishing the limit. On the way to the collecting area everything was fine. Then, as soon as the whistle blew to get ready to go out, the engine cut out. I just remember thinking, oh no not again. Nigel of Retro Engineering, quickly went under the bonnet to check what was going on. The engine was turning over but not starting. Nigel suspected a lack of spark. Sadly, after 10 minutes of trying we decided to wheel the car back to the truck. After an examination, the cause of the issue was identified as a broken coil. Nothing we could do. We managed to arrange with the Race Director to qualify by doing some laps behind the safety car.
This put me on the back foot going into the race on Sunday, not only because I was starting out of position but also because I couldn’t practice the circuit and find the limit. This meant that I needed to climb the field whilst learning the circuit.
We were first up in the morning. I wasn’t as nervous for this race as I have been for previous ones, maybe because this time I had one simple goal, to finish as high as possible. Lining up in the 41st spot on the grid ready to follow the safety car for our rolling start, I was totally focused. As the safety car pulled in, I made sure to stay in third to have a good pull up to the line. I made sure not to overtake before the start line to avoid a penalty. The opening lap was chaos. I took a wider line into Paddock bend in order to bunny hop some of the Mini’s in front. I then tried to defend my way into Druids so they couldn’t reclaim position. Inevitably, one took an inside line to squeeze back past, but I covered them off going into Graham Hill. Then towards Surtees I noticed a puff of smoke, so was anticipating an issue. And an issue there was. The red BMW of Robin Elis was facing me as I was running into Surtees. I took evasive action avoiding him and the Mini he presumably made contact with. At the end of the first lap I was up to P36. Later on I was being kept up by a pack of Mini’s. Heading into Sheene curve I made a late switch to the inside line and shot up the inside of one, taking the place. After a well timed pitstop I was in clear air to set my fastest time of a 1:54.16. I wasn’t pushing to the absolute limit, as I wanted to make sure I finished and not bin the car into a gravel trap.
I crossed the finish line at the end of the hour P27 and second in class. Good damage limitation from the team.
Thanks to Masters for such a good weekend and thanks to Retro Engineering for getting the car ready and fixing it when things went wrong.
Onto the next one, Cadwell Park 4th and 5th of June