Thruxton, 24th March 2002
A total disaster.
Thats about the only way I can use to describe the first round of the 2002 championship for me.
I had spend hours and hours preparing the car over the winter, I had tested and checked everything I could - Thruxton is my favourite circuit and I didn't want anything silly stopping the car.
Which is exactly what happened. 1 1/2 laps into qualifying, I noticed the temperature gauge showing very high. Stupidly I tried to complete another lap (to guarantee qualification) and the engine got very hot indeed. It was a judgement call, I could have pulled off - but the needle did drop slightly down the back straight and I thought I'd get away with it. Inspection in the pit lane revealed an alternator bolt had sheared, losing the fan belt.
The bolt was duly fixed, but a test run round the paddock showed the engine getting very hot again. I lined up in the holding area just hoping for the best, but as we came round to line up for the green flag lap the gauge again was off the scale - I pulled off onto the grass and didn't even make the start.
So now the car is in bits yet again, for head gasket and valve damage investigation (as well as overheating, the top end has gone very rattly). So this was my first ever 'DNS' in a UK race, and I may even have to cancel my entry to Mallory Park if I can't get the car fixed in time.
Bollocks, as we say up North.