After attending 9 race meeting, and competing in 12 races, today was the last Championship round of what has turned out to be a fabulous season's racing. There were even blue skies and warm sunshine to end the championship on a high point.
For my last Class C Group One race in the Golf (I'll be running in Class D next year with a smaller engine) I'd moved to 13" wheels, in an attempt to lower the final drive ratio and get more pull out of the corners. I was also rather more nervous for some reason, so I cruised around for the first few laps getting re-adjusted to the car (I hadn't driven it for a month).
Once I was back in the swing of things, the smaller wheels definitely felt better (with new tyres) and on lap 10 I posted my best time at Snetterton yet - a 1.29.8. I was happy with this so eased off and completed the session with no dramas, I've qualified in 17th position out of a grid of 27 cars.
So here we were forming up for the last grid of the season, and I felt very much at home. Alongside me was the white Sunbeam of Andrew Guy, who qualified just behind me - then behind me was Rick Kerry's XR3. Two rows ahead were the RKP Rover's of Kingsley Marten and Subir Gupta, and one row in front was the Class C Toyota of David Scriven.
The new tyres grip as soon as I drop the clutch, and with the lower ratios I get an absolute flyer off the start line. By the first corner I've passed the Toyota of Scriven, a Capri, and I'm on the inside of Kingsley Marten's Rover SD1 for Riches. He outdrags me down to Sear but I stay on the inside line and pass him, another Rover and Subir Gupta on the exit to gain 6 places.
But then its the long long Revett Straight. By the end of it, all six cars have cruised past me again, together with Scarborough's Capri and Peter Holton's 3.3 litre Rover P6. So I'm actually further back down the field than when I started. Oh well, at least I'm still ahead of the people I want to be ahead of - just.
The Sunbeam of Guy gets very close through the Esses, and tried to attack approaching Russell on lap 1. I'm having none of it and block the move to stay in 19th place. The Rover ahead of me pulls away on the straights, but has 2 tons to get round the Esses and Coram and slows me down drastically. He knows this and takes a very defensive line into Russell, so I have no way though. Andrew Guy's Sunbeam is right behind me hassling me at every corner too, and I'm struggling to take the right lines and get a decent lap time in. He attacks again at Riches (where he is much quicker) but again I defend the line and stay ahead. Lap 4 and as we approach Russell chicane I check my mirror, and there's no one there. That's funny. Then out of the corner of my eye I notice a white Sunbeam shaped object sliding sideways across the gravel trap alongside me. Ah, that'll be Mr Guy then. He 'lands' on the track in front of me and the P6 Rover, and we both take evasive action to avoid him. The Rover goes to the inside and I go the outside as Andrew straightens the Sunbeam and tries to get away down the start/finish straight. But we both have the power down much earlier, the Rover hurtles past on the inside and Andrew moves over to give him room, forcing me onto the grass on the outside and almost touching wing mirrors. But I don't lift off and get to Riches ahead of the wayward Sunbeam, still behind the Rover.
I pull away a little, then in my rear view mirror notice the Sunbeam once again sliding sideways across the track behind me. So I'm still stick behind the P6 Rover, but now I have the Toyota of Scriven and Rick Kerry's XR3 approaching fast behind me. By lap 7 the Toyota gets a run on me down the Revett Straight, I move to the inside to block the move and the bonnet of the Toyota disappears under my rear hatch. Urrgh, I concentrate on making it through the Esses and there's no bang so he managed to brake in time. Phew - no contact and I kept the position. He tries again exiting Coram but I cover the inside line into the chicane and make sure I keep the place - the Toyota is also Class C and I want the best result possible in my final race. Stacy Vickers comes past on lap 9 (having previously spun and gone to the back of the field) so I'm back down in 17th place where I started - but I manage to get to the flag ahead of the Toyota with a fastest lap of 1.30.2.
So the Group One season ends with a fantastic race, its been a thoroughly enjoyable year and I can hardly wait until the 2001 campaign starts next Spring.
In the meantime I have one more race in the Golf this season - I'm a member of the Classic Saloon Car Club team in the Birkett 6 Hour Relay race, again at Snetterton on 28th October. Should be a good end of season bash.