Mallory Park, 19th June 2005
Qualifying - Classic Group One
I'd sorted out the brakes since Oulton (and replaced the broken headlamp and pulled the bumper out..) and I've been around Mallory many times before so I was fairly confident as we headed out on to the track. There was a lot of traffic about but I got a fairly good run and can't complain - there seemed to be plenty of grip and the cars that did come past didn't really pull away that quickly. The lap timer showed a 58.4 which I was happy enough with, though Hugh Poston and David Scriven had both gone quicker. It would be an interesting race.
The Classic Group One race didn't get off to the best of starts. I was just watching my mate Rick Kerry take second place in the Kumho BMW race from the pit wall when a white flag was produced with the chequered flag. Just as we were working out what that meant (emergency vehicle on the track) an ambulance pulled onto the main straight forcing one of the still racing BMWs to spin backwards into the armco in front of us. We never did see a red flag?
Anyway it turns out that there had been a serious accident on the exit of Gerards and there was a considerable delay as the driver received proper treatment. Its always horrible when this happens, I just had to put it to the back of my mind and remember that driving my trailer home down the motorway can be just as dangerous.
There was more stress to deal with on the start line when the marshalls put me on the grid behind the SD1 I'd out qualified - I wasn't having that and almost had to park up sideways across the track to get their attention. So when the red lights finally went out it was a bit of a relief, made an OK start and got alongside David Scriven the class pole sitter. Considered trying to make it stick through Gerards but then remembered my massive accident here three years ago in the very same place and decided to err on the side of caution, Scrivvy pulled ahead and while we were faffing about Hugh Poston just drove around the outside of both of us, making more ground on us as he got through the Esses ahead of a few other cars.
I dived down the inside of the Scriven Escort at the chicane to take 2nd in class, he cooly drove around the outside of me then took the place back on the approach to the Devil's elbow. Hmmph. Thought about having a go at Gerards but wasn't close enough, I was quicker through there though and got a better run at the Esses and up to the hairpin again. David defended down the inside, this time I drove around the outside and in a copycat move then took the place at the following left hand kink, just as he had done to me the previous lap. Now I had to make it stick.
David attacked hard over the next few laps but Hugh had put in a 57.9 on lap 2 to create a fairly safe gap ahead. I then concentrated on saving my tyres and brakes while keeping the XR3 behind me. Dugdale's Mk1 Escort spun at Gerards, we both managed to avoid him and the resulting confusion gave me a bit of a gap. I was still desperately trying to catch Hugh, he had been held up by a battle with a red Capri and he was still within striking distance, however the back markers came into play and my brakes started to fade badly again.
I decided to make sure I got the 2nd in class finish and drove hard to the end, just beating David and the recovering Dugdale by 2 seconds, Hugh was 7 seconds ahead.
I ended up 10th overall and 2nd in class, my highest position for a long long time. I headed into the M1 traffic fairly pleased with myself - or at least I did once the circuit had opened the track to let everyone out. Was it really worth keeping everyone there for up to two hours just to save 5 minutes between the races?
Cheers to Rick Kerry for the advice and accommodation arrangements, I'm sure not sleeping in a tent was worth 1/2 sec a lap at least.