Silverstone - Round 1, 18th March 2000

Qualifying

After waiting for an eternity in the holding area with the temperature gauge in the red because the fan switch had broken, practice for my first ever race went fairly well with a place on row 6 of the grid - 14th position, bang in the middle of the field. Andrew Guy's Sunbeam is behind me in 15th place, with Rick in the yellow Escort in 16th.

The Race

So after 10 years in various disciplines of motor sport, the first race was upon me. I lined up on the grid behind Sean Cockrell's Sunbeam, with my mate Andrew Guy's similar car alongside me. Behind was Rick in the Escort, an ex banger racer (not a good omen for Copse, the first corner).

The lights go green, and after a little wheel spin, I get away well, passing the Mini of Jim Burrows and getting the inside line at Copse ahead of Rick Kerry and Andrew Guy. Down towards Maggots for the first time and Tanton comes storming through in the yellow BMW, I enter Becketts behind him and get a good run down the Club straight. Next lap and Ian Cowley comes storming past (he span out in qualifying so was at the back of the grid) so I'm one place further down.

Golf leads Capri, Sunbeam and XR3 through Brooklands at Silverstone

It quietens down for a bit, then all of a sudden Burrows in the Mini is right behind me approaching Copse. He looks quick so I leave a gap up the inside and through he goes, Guy is a some way behind in the Sunbeam with the yellow Escort of Kerry behind him.

All is well until Luffield the following lap, when I catch the Mini again. I'm held up all the way down the pit straight, but can't get through at Copse because he's braking way later than me. Try again down the Club straight, but I havn't got enough grunt to get alongside and he brakes later into Brooklands. Up to Copse and the Mini makes a right hash of it, going very wide and almost spinning. But I'm too close behind, on the limit myself and I'm worried we're going to make contact - so I have to lift off mid corner and lose momentum for the straight, and he's away again.

Next lap and the same thing happens, Burrows goes wide at Copse but I just can't get enough speed up to get alongside into Maggotts, now I'm being held up pretty badly. I've got to do something, so I take an extra wide entry into Becketts and try and get the power down early for the Club straight. Now I'm closing on the Mini, he sees me and pulls right across to the inside to block me, leaving me the only option of going round the outside  of him at Brooklands. Oh well, might as well I think to myself - can't wait behind forever. So I brake very late, miss the apex by about 20 metres and slide across the track onto the grass at the far side. Thank god I've got FWD as I keep the power down, drag it back on the tarmac and turn in (albeit slowly) for Luffield. Phew, didn't spin - but where's the Mini? Its in the mirror - hurrah! But pretty close all the way down the pit straight due to my slow exit.

Enter Copse and I'm a bit more relaxed now - but the Mini is very close again, and this time he gets the corner right - bugger. Down towards Maggotts and I'm struggling again, the brakes are starting to suffer and there's no grunt to get me away from this bloody Mini. I have no choice but to let him through on the inside, and he's back in front at Becketts. Now I'm stuck behind him again and whilst all this is going on Andrew Guy in the Sunbeam is starting to catch up. Hmmmph. So much for a leisurely first race cruise round at the back to get my signature, this is hard work.

Next lap at Becketts and Burrow's in the Mini brakes harder than ever, I'm right behind him and lose all momentum. Andrew Guy in the Sunbeam behind takes a wide entry and gets a much quicker exit, and I'm dead meat down the Club Straight - the Sunbeam sails past on the inside. I consider a move round the outside again at Brooklands but think better of it and end up stuck behind the Sunbeam through Luffield.

Next lap at Becketts and its my turn to take a wide entry, as the Sunbeam is now baulked by the Mini. But Andrew Guy gets a better exit than Burrows and goes for the inside line down Club. I get out of the corner well too, and we're three abreast going down the straight. Its looking good for another wild move round the outside of both of them at Brooklands when Burrows in the Mini starts waving his hands - what's going on? Then I spot the yellow flags in the distance- a Capri has spun. I'm tempted to continue the maneuver and pass both cars, but I don't want to risk a licence endorsement (not in my first race anyway), so I fall back in line behind the Mini and Sunbeam. I'd probably have ended up in the gravel trap anyway.

By now Andy Cope in the beautifully prepared XR2 is right with me - this is all going horribly wrong, he's obviously not been slowed so badly by the yellows. But I think I've been soft enough already, so I'm the widest Golf GTi ever round Luffield to finish the race in 15th place, 1 second behind the Sunbeam and the Fiesta 2 tenths behind me.

The Groovy Pit Crew

A packed crowd awaits the excitement of the first race...