Qualifying was relatively uneventful, other than completing the first few laps and the lap timer showing times in the 1.40's - not very good. I picked up the pace somewhat and caught the Capri of Malc Best, this then spoiled the next few laps so I fell back to get one last good run. Unfortunately on my last flying lap I then caught the slower Sunbeam of Andrew Guy at the last chicane, he pushed me to the inside so I was left with a 1.38.9 - 11th position on the grid and third in class.
Another terrible start, this time I got off the line OK but then hit the rev limiter in first, second AND third gears - by which time any advantage I'd made was well and truly lost. The speed at which the Golf now gets through the gears with the new final drive ratio really catches me out, though on the plus side its a good job I fitted a rev limiter at all....
Anyway I ended up in about 8th place, then the Jaguar of Howard (who had problems in qualifying) came past to leave me behind Rick Kerry (XR3) chasing Malc Best in the Capri, with Sean Cockrell behind in the Sunbeam.
The first few laps were uneventful as the cars spread out, and I just couldn't live with Rick and Malc Best no matter how hard I tried. On about lap 6 I tried too hard, went very wide at Noble and the resultant loss in momentum allowed Sean to close up behind in the Sunbeam. So I was watching my mirrors and the cars ahead.
I kept plugging away and started to catch Rick. A backmarker slowed the XR3 and Capri down, and suddenly I was right up with them again. I attacked Rick down the inside at the complex, but he firmly closed the door. Exiting Goodwood on lap 8 I got a tow and pulled alongside Rick before Church, the fastest corner on the circuit. We were both flat out in fourth, Rick again closed the gap leaving a collision inevitable - my front wheel made contact with the side of his car. This sent me into the slide of all slides, which I somehow managed to hold without spinning by keeping the accelerator planted to the floor and hoping that the engine didn't fall off the cam. When I eventually straightened up and started heading up the hill to the chicane I looked around for Rick - and there he was alongside me again - having had a grassy moment himself. So we both approached the final chicane together in a do or die fight for the class D lead - when I hit the brake pedal my car veered all over the track, my suspension had been broken at the previous corner. I tried to enter the chicane with Rick beside me but hadn't scrubbed off enough speed and span into the side of Rick, before sliding backwards off the track into the gravel trap.
To my bewilderment Rick managed to get back on the track and continue the race still ahead of Sean Cockrell, while my tired battery wouldn't restart the engine - I was out. When I got out of the car the marshalls pointed out my front wheels pointing in opposite directions, so I couldn't have continued anyway.
Rick amazingly battled on and finished ahead of Sean to take another class win - a post race investigation showed the contact had completely shattered his rear wheel bearing. But now he has 22 points to my 7 - not the start to the season I wanted. On the plus side the Golf was 1/2 second faster than the 1800 was last year (1.36.8), only 17/hundreths slower than Sean who was quickest in Class D.
So now I have three weeks to repair the car before Cadwell Park on May 8th, when the battle for Class D recommences...