The day started off rather dull, with none of the glorious weather we had been recently been blessed with, although considering our performances in the wet at Cadwell Park, I was rather hoping it would rain to give us an advantage. But alas, no – only grey weather.
Qualifying came soon enough. Since Cadwell and Thruxton, I’ve felt that I have turned a corner with my performances, able to just go out and have fun and set lap times as fast as the car could go. Qualifying was 15 minutes, barely enough time to get adequate heat into the tyres. But no matter, the biggest hindrance was traffic. Whenever I started to string a good sector or two I was held up through the corners by ‘faster’ cars. I managed to get down to 1:28.1, placing me 9th on the grid.
I needed to continue my streak of winning performances here. Faster cars were in front and if I wanted to maintain my lead in the championship a good start would be crucial. I got away fairly well when the lights went out. However, so did everyone else and as they were lighter cars, I was on the back foot going into turn one. I cut to the inside and was covered off by the Mini in front.
Next was Crainers, seemingly my specialty at this circuit. I managed to go around the outside of the rival Cortina running up front. This car was fast. It would be a hard job to keep him behind and I knew this. I managed to cover him off for 4 or 5 laps, but his extra power and lack of weight couldn’t be ignored and he went past down the back straight. Nothing could be done about that. Now the job was to stick to the back of him as much as possible and wait for him to make a mistake. Once he had got past he was free to use the car’s pace. Looking at the data, I was holding him up and making him lose one and a half seconds a lap. Now for the job of keeping people behind. The Chamois, or ‘Posh Imp’ as we call it, of Steve Platts was pressuring behind. I could see him closing every lap in my mirror. At one point he was even along my outside going into the final chicane. Maybe he made a mistake, or I scared him off, as after the chicane he dropped back, seemingly giving up. I finished the race far in front of him in 8th place, with the fastest lap of 1:27.86.
Now the long wait. Being in the last race of the day was an inconvenience. But it did give the team and I time to relax and review the data. It turned out, that down Crainers I was 5 mph faster than the next person.
So I had to do it all again in this race. I needed to hold up the cars in front in order to help solidify my lead in the championship. Lights out, and another good start. I was alongside the Cortina going into the Old Hairpin. However, it seems he didn’t want me there as he pressured me off the track. I managed to not lose too much ground, although a little miffed. Further into the race, I was within striking range of a Mini. I realised that I was getting much better exits than him and was gaining on the straights. I needed to make the pass before Crainers in order to gap him as the Old Hairpin and the up hill stretch that follows, is a weakness of the low powered BMW. I saw the opportunity at the end of the pit straight going into Redgate and made a dive for it. Looking at it on the onboard cameras it seemed a fairly safe move. However, talking to some spectators, the Mini was very close to my rear on the turn in to Redgate.
The race finished with me P6 with the fastest lap of a 1:28.1. This helped solidify my lead in the championship that little bit more. I am now at 47 points in the standings and the next car that is still racing is at 22 points. However, if each car races at every race for the remainder of the season, the lead will be tough to keep. Nevertheless, I will fight for it as much as possible.
Thanks to the HSCC for a fun event and thanks to Retro Engineering for the excellent preparation of the car.