Silverstone, 17th/18th August
By most people's standards the weekend at Silverstone could be considered a total disaster. But I ended up with my first race finish in almost a year, and nothing TOO major wrong with the car afterwards either. So I'm classing it as a successful weekend's work!
The hassle started early Saturday morning with scrutineering. First of all the scrut. spotted that my seat mounts had no strengthening plates underneath, something I should have noticed. So that was a fail. Then worse still - my windscreen wasn't laminated. Something else I should have noticed but hadn't. Fixing the seat mounts took a good 40 minutes (thanks to Raven Motorsport for the washers) but the only way round the windscreen problem was to remove both front and rear screens and qualify without them. Aero-dynamics weren't going to be a strong point but at least I could get on the grid. A quick nut and bolt check before getting changed was called for, when I noticed the alternator hanging off AGAIN. (This is the same problem that caused the engine damage at Thruxton). I tried to tighten it and the bolt just spun round in the hole - urrghh, it was stripped. I couldn't believe it. Ian Wallace came to the rescue with a longer bolt while I got suited and booted, but even that didn't tighten so I was going to have to keep a very close eye on the temperature gauge. I finally made it to the holding area covered in oil, soaked in sweat and totally pissed off, just as the cars were driving onto the circuit. Ideal preparation? - bollocks.
Anyway qualifying was fairly undramatic. The car felt like a complete brick down the straights so I did a few quick laps, played with the Sunbeam of Dan Nash for a bit then.. - the engine started cutting out. I'd ran out of petrol - knew there was something I'd forget. As I came down the pit lane the chequered flag came out anyway, I'd qualified in 18th place, 2nd in class - which wasn't too bad considering the circumstances. One worrying development was a major vibration between 6 and 7 thousand RPM, but it didn't seem to be affecting performance so I just drove through it.
Spent the next three hours sorting out a fuel leak (I was sure there had been enough petrol in there), a full oil catch tank and arranging a permanent fix to the alternator pulley. Also arranged for Autoglass to sort my windscreen out for the morning, running without one seemed rather dangerous and indeed pointless.
Sunday morning started with a call from Autoglass saying 'It is a Mk2 Golf isn't it, mate?'. Great. But give them their dues, they eventually found the right windscreen and blasted across to Silverstone to get it fitted well in time for the start of the race.
I was a nervous wreck as we lined up for the warm up lap, the car got very hot on the grid but cooled off once we got going. Came round to form the grid again and I cooly approached row 9 in readiness for a blast through the two Capri's in fromt of me to get at the class leader (Will McAteer). I thought I'd better check I was in first gear so I pulled the stick back into neutral - then noticed green lights ahead of me. Bugger, that was quick - the race has started already! I rammed the gear lever forward, dumped the clutch - and went shooting backwards. I'd found reverse gear. Bollocks and more bollocks. No amount of frantic poking would find the first cog so I ended up pulling away in 2nd, and I eventually got round Copse corner in last position - doh. So now I had some work to do.
|Passed Jos van de
Perre's Scirocco down the club straight, and got close enough to Bray in
the Escort to take the inside line and squeeze by. Followed the pack
through Luffield but couldn't get a run on anyone into Copse - got by Phil
Terry's BMW 323i into Becketts, then settled down a little as I got used
to racing again - these were my first laps this year! Marcus Maylam in the
Sunbeam was next, my Golf had the legs down the straight after a good exit
from Becketts, passed another BMW 323i who looked like he was having
problems and then started attacking Don Hughes in the similar Golf GTi for
second in class. I've got more grunt down the straights but he takes the
corners very well, so I had to pick my moment. A good exit from Becketts
on lap 5ish gave me the chance for a dive down the inside before Luffield,
Don was getting held up through the corners by The Scriven Toyota and
Knight/Roberts Capri's ahead which made my task easier. Except now they
were holding me up.
Next few laps I had a great battle with David Scriven. I got him going through Becketts under braking, passing Dave Robert's Capri at the same time - but I couldn't get away because I was stuck behind Jeremy Knight's Capri through Luffield. Two laps later and the Toyota got a better exit from there and I had to let him through at Copse - bugger, I'd lost a place. Now Don was hassling me again at every corner and I was getting stressed. I dummied a move at the inside of Becketts forcing Scriven to take a bad line, and got past him again at the end of the club straight - now I was with the Knight Capri again. Who, give him his dues, did everything possible to keep me behind him. He was slower through Luffield and Becketts but he knew that and stuck to the inside of the track religously. With 3 litres of grunt under the bonnet he just accelerated away down the straights so all I could do was guard my rear and make sure I got the finish in 15th place - and 2nd in class.
So in 12 laps I passed 8 cars and got to one place above my grid position - after starting in last place. I couldn't really even compare times with the class winner, I was in traffic the whole race and didn't better my qualifying time (with no windscreen). Anyway it made for a great racing and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but hopefully at Pembrey it'll be other cars that I'll be competing against.
Between now and then the car is booked into a rolling road to have the timing properly set and investigate the vibration - and I might put the thing on a bit of a diet too - the new shell weighs in at hefty 825KG. Oh - and I'll be practising selecting FIRST gear.