The long range forecast for the Midlands area had been wet, so I trailered the car up to Mallory with new front tyres on and even Rain X'd the windscreen again for good measure. But true to most other Group One race days, it stayed dry all day. Hmmph.
I got down to the holding area very early again, making me second out on the track. In the dry conditions though some of the faster cars came by during the first few laps of qualifying. Whilst I was still finding my way round, I also let Rick Kerry by in the class D Escort and regretted this for the rest of the session as I kept catching him. Anyway I dropped back a couple of times for some quicker laps, and managed a time of 57.509 - 2 seconds quicker than last year.
The new close ratio (FM coded) gearbox was superb, the car just flies through the gears though it gets suspiciously close to the rev limiter in fifth at the end of the relatively short straight at Mallory - hope its OK on longer circuits.
Class D was going to be competitve - Andy Cope qualified first on 57.707, and Mark Downton (ex Alfa GTV racer) was just behind me on 57.710 - we were all within 3 thousands of each other. Rick was having problems getting out of the hairpin in 2nd gear and set a time of 58.223, still not too far behind.
I made a superb start and passed both Andy Cope and Mark Cholerton in the lovely yellow RS2000, getting right up behind Sean Hayes in the Raven Automotive Rover. For the first few laps I consolidated this, defending my 7th place from the Escort. Everything was going very well, through Sean Hayes started to pull away - then on lap 10 I messed up. I locked up going into the hairpin, and by the time I'd regained control both Mark and Andy Cope were passed on the inside. Bollocks. I was absolutely mad with myself, and started a manic lap trying to recatch them both. I slid round the Esses especially well (just controlling the back end exiting the left hander) and noticed Andy wasn't defending the inside line into the hairpin. Here's my chance I thought, so I rather ambitiously attacked down the inside. I locked up again, but this time controlled the slide enough to get through the corner forcing Andy wide. Hardly the most glamorous overtaking move in the world, but I was back in the class lead with 8 laps to go. Any thoughts of passing Mark quickly disappeared as I realised I had flat spotted my tyres and I now had a big battle just to keep Andy behind me. Lap after lap I had to take the inside line at every corner, he was way quicker through Gerards and I was getting more and more worried - another lap or so and I think he would have been through. But I held on to take the chequered flag first in class D, 8th overall with a time of 57.569. This was my first ever class win and Group One Trophy.
Next race - Lydden Hill, 5th August.