I woke and immediately looked out window to see what the weather was looking like. Much to my dismay it was a slightly dreary morning. Unfortunate as I’m not a fan of cold damp weather. Not fun for waiting around. However, as it turned out the day brightened up and the weather warmed, becoming a beautiful morning in the paddock of Mallory Park.
Qualifying was at 11:15. Considering our pace and the amount of cars in the field, I was expecting around P10-15. As Mallory is a short circuit it didn’t take much to get up to pace. Unfortunately my lap timer and delta display wasn’t working, so I had to judge the laps based on feel. Then, the Retro Engineering team held out the pit board with ‘P4’ on the board. At first I feared that maybe this was some form of code that the car was on fire. But no. As time went on, some faster cars managed faster laps, putting me back to P6 with around 3 tenths to the MKI Jaguar in front. Once out of the car, I started to visualise the lap and identify the areas where I was losing time in order to inform what I needed to do for the race.
We enjoyed an early lunch, talking things over with Simon Blankely, Austin A40 driver, who joined us. Then we felt the temperature drop and heard some soft pitter pattering on the roof of the awning. Rain! Our teams quickly hurried under the cars to alter setups, in order to help our performance in the wet.
As time went on and other races took place, some Mini’s had overcooked things and run into the barriers, giving the track time to dry out a little. So the set up was changed again, still favouring the damp conditions but in a way that would be quite competitive in the dry.
Our race time arrived. The grid was dry but I was apprehensive at the start. Standing starts haven’t been my area of strength so far this year. The lights went out, and we got away well, taking the Jag and a Ford Anglia into turn one. I had a lap of hard fighting with the Anglia before I could shake him and start having my own race. The rain started to come back down midway through the race. Then, I saw some double waved yellows and clouds of brown dust on the exit of turn one. Two Cortina’s had pushed each other off. One rejoined behind me, the other retired. I was now P2, defending for my life as the wounded yet still lightning quick Cortina was bearing down on me. Eventually it edged past. The race ended with me P3 overall!
The second race. This time, I’d be starting P3, alongside the Jag in P4. The driver starting alongside the pole sitter couldn’t close his door and needed to start from the pit lane, providing a clear run into turn 1. The start was crucial yet again. The lights went out. The Jag, Cortina and I got away well. However, the driver of the Cortina missed a gear, meaning that we were level. Then, another Cortina from behind had a lightning start and went to the right of the Pole sitting Cortina. We were four abreast going into turn one. The Cortina on the far right evidently didn’t think he had enough room so he barged into the car next to him which meant he was sandwiched against me, causing a lot of damage. I managed to get out ahead of both of them with the Jag in front of me. The chase was on. I was defending my heart out against the faster Cortina’s behind. However, this meant I was losing time, so I decided to let one pass in order to slow the Jag in front down allowing me to get overall position over him. It was a hard defence over the other Cortina’s but in the end, they were 2 seconds a lap faster than me. Towards the closing stages of the race, the Jag was firmly in my sights. It was a hard won fight. In the end I had a good run on him along the straight and into turn one. This allowed me to go down his inside and take him on the exit of the corner. I finished P4.
The HRDC do a combined classification, which classified me P3 overall, my first ever overall Podium!
Thanks to Retro Engineering yet again for the improvements they have made to the car, without which I wouldn’t have had the confidence to make up the positions I did.