I was entered in two races this meeting, the usual Group One Touring Cars and a 1 hr endurance race, sharing the driving with Andrew Guy.
I got down to the holding area very early, making me first out on the track. This worked superbly in the wet conditions, I headed off on my own and was helped further by Rick Kerry and Colin Potter making heavy contact at the Russell chicane, holding everyone else up. For the first half of qualifying I had a great time, I could see the Rover of Julian Belcher behind me but he wasn't gaining much, I was looking forward to my best grid position ever.
Then it went distinctly pear shaped. A dry line started appearing, then worse still my Golf stuck in third gear exiting Coram. I pulled into the pits and it wouldn't free up, my weekend in the Golf was over.
I dejectly got back to the paddock and loaded the car back on the trailer, then swapped the entry in the 1 hr race to Andrew's Talbot Sunbeam.
It was my first competitive drive in the rear wheel drive Sunbeam (though I rallied one many years ago) and I was very nervous - getting used to feathering the throttle round corners was especially difficult, I kept wanted to floor the thing to pull me round. I managed a 300 degree spin at Sear and came in after 15 mins with a time of 1.33.78, hardly awe inspiring. Andrew went out next (with the car leaking oil badly) and managed a 1.31, leaving us near the back of the grid.
Sunday morning was spent fixing up Andrew's Sunbeam for his Group One race and our entry in the 1 hr race. Then I had a brainwave - why not run the Golf in Group One anyway, I've paid the entry and third gear is better than no gears at all...
So I lined up on the grid for the green flag lap with the engine running and losing all feeling in my left foot keeping the clutch pressed down - I had decided to start the actual race from the pit lane, because a few practice starts showed that by the time I was up to speed the rest of the grid would either be half way down the Revett Straight, or stuffed into the back of my Golf...
Then a miracle happened - half way through the green flag lap, the gearbox freed up and I was back to a 5sp Golf GTi - I couldn't believe my luck. So the lights go green and I make a fair start, keeping up with the pack and staying out of trouble round Riches and Sear, while I make sure the gears aren't going to jam again. Lap 2 and I catch right up with the class D battle, and line up to pass Andrew Guy's Sunbeam entering the Revett Straight. Then everything dies - the electric cut-off switch has flicked off, and its under the bonnet. Bollocks. From miracle to another disaster in under 2 minutes. I lose a lap as I turn the power back on and get back in the car, then I join the race again not really competing with anyone. I let Sean by in the Sunbeam, not wanting to get in the way of the class D battle - then try and see how he compares. I pass easily on the Revett Straight which is frustrating as hell because he's second in class, I then let him past and stay clear to let him take 2nd in class. I finish behind him 1 lap down in last place, what else can go wrong with my poxy car? On the plus side my lap time was a best yet - 1.29..268, 1/2 second quicker than last year.
I was very nervous before the start, my lap times were way down on what the car should be doing so I was going to struggle. Anyway it was only for fun so as the lights when green I was relaxed and made a great start (maybe creeping forward slightly when they red - oops) and considered passing Rick in the Escort ahead. Then I remembered it wasn't my car so I held back and joined the pack, with the Mustang alongside me powering away.
I thoroughly enjoyed the next 30 mins as I watched the lap times fall and really got used to the car, hanging the back end out round Sear and Coram - I'd forgotten how much fun opposite lock was. I managed to get down to a 1.30.204 before Andrew waved me in for the driver change.
Then it all went pear shaped again. I lost concentration as I relaxed for the 'in' lap, and lost control at Riches - aaargh. I tried everything to recover but I think I panicked and went into FWD mode for a moment, causing a big big spin. I ended up sliding across the in-field and worse still stalled the engine as I came to a halt. Bugger. The engine fired up immediately, but then I noticed smoke under the bonnet and thought I'd better take a look. It got worse - the oil filler car had disappeared, and there was oil all over the engine bay. The front of the engine was also making a 'sizzling' noise - it didn't look good (we'd had oil and water leak problems before the race started). I tried to restart the engine again but it wouldn't fire up, then a marshall came and directed me away from the track. My embarrassment was completed by the safety car coming out to allow a tow truck to come and recover me - Andrew wasn't even going to get a drive in his own car.
So a fairly disastrous weekend all round, lets hope my luck (and driving skills) improve for Mallory Park in two weeks time.