Oulton Park - 4th June 2005
Qualifying - Classic Group One
I don't know whether it was my dodgy camping stove dinner or the beer (OK, it was almost certainly the beer) but I felt grimmer than a very grim thing on Saturday morning. Fortunately I managed to finish the qualifying session without puking up, passing out or hitting anything so I was on the grid. Unfortunately my lap time was about 10 seconds down on the class best at 1.56. A nap in the tent was called for.
Amazing what a bit of sleep can do. By the start of the first Group One race (Oulton Park was a double header) I'd kept down some lunch and could even see straight.
Made a great start and got the edge on Andrew Guy alongside me, however he kept his line into turn 1 and I let him through, pulling in behind him and the Richard Langeveld Capri. Chris Bray's exhaust fell off on the way around the first lap, as he slowed to enter the pit lane he stayed on the racing line through Old Hall and held several of us up terribly. The class D battle was now way ahead of me so I drove as hard as I could to get back with the pack.
4 years ago I broke the lap record here with a 1.47 lap, my best lap today would be a 1.50 with a bone dry track and same (reshelled) car. Mmmm.
Anyway, caught the pack and started hassling Andrew but then the Langeveld Capri came past me down through Cascades with about 1" space to spare, yikes. Andy Hayne then spun on Chris Bray oil under the bridge, he started creeping across the track to safety just as I committed to passing in front of him. A gigantic accident was avoided by - an inch? Gulp.
Managed to get past the yellow Capri again at the chicane but despite a few attempts to get past Andrew Guy I finished in 16th place, well out of the class positions.
Our race two was the last race of the meeting so by now I was feeling a lot better. Made a reasonable start again but the Langeveld Capri (I get the feeling I'll be seeing a lot of him this year..) dived across the track in front of me blocking my route through the slow moving pack. I ended up taking turn 1 with the Baker Alfasud alongside me, he'd started several places behind.
Managed to get past him at Cascades then followed the pack through the hairpin with lots of tyre smoke everywhere. Then had a fantastic race with Richard Langeveld, Andrew Guy and Martin Howells in the black Golf. Lap 4 or 5 and I was very close to the Guy RS1600i. A little too close actually - on the approach to the hairpin my brake pedal just turned solid and Andrew's quite clearly hadn't.
Whack! Hit the Escort once then Andrew braked again, I was still virtually brake less so hit him again. Smash! - glass and bumper parts flew across the circuit.
I rested the brakes for a couple of laps and had a great battle with the Howell Golf, managed to get past him a couple of times but he had better stopping power and retook the place. At the Knickerbrook chicane my brakes ran out again and I went straight on re-gaining the place (illegally). Decided to stay ahead and try and have another go at Andrew Guy but my brakes weren't good enough so I settled for 14th (or 15th if Martin Howell gets the place he deserved).
Looking at the brakes post race, the pads had glazed over like I've never seen before and the disks were completely coated in glaze too - it was literally a two hour job cleaning them. Hopefully that will solve the stopping problems for Mallory as I have no budget to otherwise improve them. Oulton Park does seem especially hard on brakes.
My other problem is finding the three seconds I've lost. Its not like I'm not trying - the car is on the limit every corner, I am hanging on for dear life and the tyres are screaching like mad. There were plenty of laps when my brakes were fine so something else is holding the car back. Everything is essentially the same other than a reshell so its all a bit of a mystery, but one I'm determined to solve.
Next race - Mallory Park, 19th June.