I’d had a busy winter so the car hadn’t received a great deal of attention. I had managed a basic service – spark plugs were from 2003 and the air filter from 1996…. I also renewed the electrics pull that was always sticking, checked the lights over and generally did a nut and bolt check through the car. The gears had become decidedly vague so I bought a bush kit and spent a happy 12 hours underneath the car covered in oil and other shit fitting it, by the end of the job the gearstick was pointing towards the drivers door mirror and I had no gears. It was fixed the next day – or so I thought.
It was an interesting grid. 2006 champion Don Hughes was back out in his rapid Mk1 Golf, Steve Barber (former SPN Golf racer) was renting the ex-Chris Bray class winning Escort XR3. Chris’s Dad was out in the ex-Hugh Poston Fiesta and there was a Lotus Cortina thrown in for good measure.
I went out early and immediately got on the pace, second lap was quicker than most of my previous visits to Brands and by lap 6 I’d posted a 1.00, quicker than I’d been at the circuit other than in the cold cold conditions of the November post season race last year. I spent the rest of the session getting used to the car again and it was driving and handling as well as ever. Understeer was better than usual out of Clearways and Paddock Hill bend was a three-wheeled scream.
Ended up 13th on the grid overall and 2nd in class D behind Don in the similar car.
Don’s car was stuck in third gear so I was starting on class pole – long time since I’d done that. Lights went out and I made a great start as usual, got alongside the rear panel of Alan Roper’s SD1 but he closed the door and I was on the grass!. Had to brake and slot in behind, this let the Lotus Cortina past and I lost momentum into the first corner. Paddock Hill was fairly busy but we all got safely through it, I stayed to the inside for Druids and it was the right decision as there was plenty of space in front of me and I slotted in behind the Lotus Cortina to battle for the class lead. Richard Langeveld got a better exit out of Graham Hill and was past before the Esses, I let him through and I then had Steve Barber, Neil Bray and a few other cars looming in my mirrors. For the next few laps I did everyone I could to get past the Langeveld Capri. He wasn’t a great deal quicker out of Clearways and I was certainly quicker through Paddock Hill – but he just took the inside line at Druids every lap and there was no way through. I had a look approaching the Esses after a good exit across the kerbs of Graham Hill bend but it would have been optimistic. All the time I had either Steve Barber or Neil Bray right up against my rear bumper and also attacking for the place. Lap 5 and I was starting to pay more attention to what was behind me, however I made an especially good exit out of Clearways and had a look down the inside of the Capri at Paddock Hill. I got alongside but then wasn’t sure Richard had seen me and didn’t want an accident first race out so backed off and conceded the place, in the end he had seen me but it would have been close.
So we got to lap 6 and now I had a mirror full of the Steve Barber Escort. He was slower out of Clearways but then caught rapidly down the straight, he looked to the inside at Paddock Hill and I blocked but then couldn’t find 5th gear. Bollocks! Stayed in 4th on the limiter and blocked around the inside of the corner, keeping traction to get up to Druids on the inside and keep the place. The Capri was starting to pull away and suddenly my mirrors were now full of a little red Fiesta – Neil Bray had passed Steve and was having a go at me himself now. Again got out of Clearways with some space but he was close behind, got to the start/finish line and prayed I could find 5th. Tried – failed. Double bollocks! The Fiesta dived to the inside while I desperately tried to find a gear to drive around the outside of him and at least stay on the track, did find a gear but I think it was…. Second.
Not a good gear to select flat out on the approach to Paddock Hill bend. There was a high pitched scream then everything went eerily quiet, followed by a strange whirring noise from my little Golf. The engine was lunched. I managed to keep on the track and let Steve Barber by safely then pull up safely on the right hand side of the track.
7 minutes into the 2007 season and it looks like my racing is finished for the year already. Closer investigation revealed that when requested by the starter motor, the bottom of the engine turns around and the top doesn’t – despite the cambelt being intact and in place. This, I’m told, is not good news. I assume the gear linkage that I’d renewed beautifully pre-season has moved, causing me to lose 5th gear. Why the f**k I hadn’t left it alone god only knows.
For sale – one Mk1 Golf rolling shell!