Mallory Park, 29th May 2000

Qualifying

It was nice to see a lot of people at Mallory Park for the event, the car parks were full and the spectator areas were well populated throughout the day.

I was looking forward to qualifying as this was the first time I'd been to a circuit I knew (since we'd raced here back in April). However I just couldn't seem to get into the swing of things, and my best lap was spoiled when Andrew Guy's Sunbeam span at the hairpin. There was then a short burst of rain which made conditions a little more difficult in the middle of the session, and the chequered flag came down all too quickly. A time of 59.76 was hardly awe inspiring, and was actually slower than my best race time in April. (I was carrying 6kg of ballast after the weight problems at Brands Hatch).

The Race

I make an excellent start and immediately get alongside the yellow Escort of Kerry, before being baulked by the Capri ahead of him. Rick then starts to move to the outside of the track to get position for Gerards (the first corner) - I have the choice of panel damage or giving way to him, so I chose the latter - he owns a body shop and I don't! This lets Rick get ahead of me again, and also Andrew Guy in the Sunbeam who has started well up the inside.

Going round Gerards for the first time and Pete Holton in the Rover P6 powers by on the exit, getting his V8 power down well. As we enter the Esses I get the run on the Sunbeam, and decide to have a go into the hairpin. A little tyre smoke later and I get through on the inside, but I'm on a very poor line and I can't get the power down for the following straight. The Sunbeam (with a little more grunt) pulls up behind me down the start/finish straight, I block first the outside then the inside, before deciding on the outside line for Gerards again and just seeing what happens. The Sunbeam goes up the inside so I think - I'll just drive around the outside of him! Err, no. There's no grip on the outside of the bend, the back end gives way and I lose control, spinning towards the tyres as I narrowly miss collecting the Sunbeam on the way round.

By some miracle neither the front or rear of the car makes contact with the tyre wall, and I manage to keep the engine going and get the power down just as the front of the car completes a 360 degree turn, so I don't lose too much time. But the pack has gone and I'm in last place...

Next few laps I'm on a mission, and really get a hold of the car as I try to catch up the rest of the field. Lap 5 and I reach a Capri, he blocks me through the hairpin but I'm quicker onto the straight and I pass him before Gerards. I get past another Capri at the hairpin, then a Toyota Celica GT (who out qualified me) is next, he proves a little harder to get past but I squeeze through at the hairpin and start chasing the Capri of Ellis. By now the front runners are lapping us, this makes things interesting as first me then the Capri are slowed and as the faster cars take the line. But I run out of time and I'm still alongside the boot of the Capri as the chequered flag is waved.

So a disappointing 19/22 is the result - my best lap was a much improved 58.86, I would have hoped to be at least 4 places higher up if I could consistently keep up that pace (and more to the point stay on the track..)

Next race - Thruxton, 2nd July.