For an excellent Pembrey guide from Ten Tenths Motorsport click here.
Well, true to form I'm writing this having just done Silverstone! So don't expect the account to be 100% accurate as I'm relying on my feeble memory.
The Pembrey double header is a great value race. Basically, it's a 2 for 1 deal so understandably, my brother was keen to make an appearance. What with him having never raced there before and my experiences involved a few laps and a broken cam, a test day seemed to make sense.
One thing that you can almost guarantee at Pembrey is the weather - or rather, crap weather. We arrived on Friday morning to find a wet and miserable paddock. Still, with our new 3 bay tent (bargain at 100 quid from B&Q) we managed to avoid the worst of the weather. We'd taken all 3 cars down with us and soon got them unloaded and ready to roll. We'd signed up for a full day and despite arriving a bit late which made us miss the 1st session, we still had plently of time to get to grips with the track.
My memory of Pembrey from last year was that it was featureless, fast and quite technical in places. Add some wet weather and a fast lap required you to be smooth and accurate with a healthy dose of cojones especially round Honda. The start straight sees you on a fast run to Hatchets Hairpin, very slippery round here and a kerb which has eroded on the inside edge makes a late entry and smooth exit the best bet. Be careful running wide on the exit as the kerbs are again, very slippery and quite rough! Straight into Spitfires which drifts you wide on the power whilst you try and keep towards the left for a good run into Dibeni. A fast run through here will drift you right out towards the extra apron of tarmac before getting things settled to enter the Esses. The Esses can be taken with a lift and a later than you think turn in. Easy to run wide on the exit here and the kerb is rough and the grass takes no prisoners. Brake late for Brooklands Hairpin and turn late allowing you to get back on the power for the Speedway Straight. Woodlands is flat out, drifting you wide to get a good line into Honda. A slight lift if it's slippery will see you through there, hanging a wheel on the kerb for a fast exit onto Park Straight to finish the lap.
So that's what we tried to do! I tried to show Stu the lines and followed him round to see what he was doing. To be honest, there wasn't a lot I could tell him. His lines were good, braking points fine, the only thing was that he has a tendency to turn in too early which pushes him wide on the exit. This was extremely apparent as I went to overtake him through Dibeni 2 towards the Esses and he pushed me right off the track onto the concrete which was like ice!!! After a bit of fist shaking, I calmed down a bit and we progressively got quicker, gaining much needed confidence around the track.
On to race day 1. The weather was still pants and whilst Stu and I were OK with it, Helen (who arrived Friday night) was nervous as hell! Still, we tried to give her all the advice we could as we walked her around it. Hels is always a bag of nerves on race day so the slippery conditions weren't helping.
We used our usual qualifying tactic of getting out early and beating the traffic. This was especially important as the conditions made overtaking quite hazardous. I soon settled into a rhythm although grip was proving to be elusive! Every lap I kept an eye out for stranded cars hoping not to see '51' or '99' on them - a habit I must stop doing! Still, we all kept it in one piece to qualify 8th, 18th and 23rd (Me, Hels, Stu). Not bad, but would have liked to have been a bit higher up the order. A new boy on the scene was Bruno Viana driving a car that had been prepared by eight students from the Swansea Insitute of Higher Education. For 1st timers, they didn't hang about though with Bruno qualifying in pole. Apparently Bruno has some Formula Ford experience in his native country of Portugal as well as some Kart and Rallying experience. This certainly seemed to pay off with the pace that he set.
The weather continued to get worse for the race and as we watched the other formulae slither about, it was going to be more a question of survival than anything. And so it was. I made a good start and everyone got away cleanly. Even the first corner at the hairpin proved uneventful as we all tip-toed around sliding all over the place. I'd run with slightly harder tyre pressures for the race and I was struggling to find grip. Still, I managed to hold on to my position and finished 8th so I was happy with that. Hels put in a good show to finish 17th and Stu made the same progress finishing 24th. He did get his car dirty however! The Swansea Institute had some distributor troubles on the grid which precluded them from taking part. I certainly know how THAT feels!
Day 2's grid was determined by the race 1 final positions, so I was sat on row 4 with Hels in row 9 and Stu 12. The weather had got worse if anything so we'd have to struggle around again. Battle commenced again with no incident. Some fairly 'brave' (read dangerous) moves that I submitted to dropped my back a couple of places. I was counting on a few of the front runners falling off as they were driving err... 'spiritedly' but they managed to stay on the black stuff (mainly). Thus, I came home in 10th place which wasn't bad I suppose. Hels had a nightmare race, hating the rain to come in 24th. Stu loved every minute of it (which proves he's as mad as a box of frogs) to make up a few places to finish 22nd!
Bruno Viana made drove a committed race to come from the back of the grid to finish 8th netting him a well deserved 'Driver of the Day'. One to watch in future I think.
So there you go. We packed up (in the rain) and headed home. Stu was happy, Hels depressed and I was indifferent! I'm not disappointed that we won't be doing Lydden after last year's carnage. I have to work that weekend anyway so there you go. Roll on Silverstone!
Click here for the results