For an excellent Silverstone guide from Ten Tenths Motorsport click here.
Right, I'll get this done straight away rather than relying on my memory 2 months down the line!!
As was last year, the weather for the weekend was fantastic. Well, it didn't start that way with overcast skies and even a few spots of rain on the way to the circuit. The new bypass, despite being opened a few weeks earlier for the Grand Prix, was once again full of cones and contraflows and was ony about 75% finished. Still, we arrived in good time (the circuit is only and hour away from home) and got unloaded and prepared for scrutineering at 11:20. The usual good humoured piss taking was prevalent in the paddock with the usual suspects in attendance. It was great to see the O'Donnell brothers showing their support even though they weren't taking part in the race. Hope to see more of you next season chaps!
After spending the last 2 weekends replacing diff's on both Hels and my cars - a job that I HATE - we were pretty much set. I had a brake imbalance AGAIN which made the nearside front lock up. Bleeding them didn't help a great deal and I put it down to diff oil on the pads. Hopefully this would burn off in the race.
We all signed on and Stu had his 1st time driver briefing - it's nice to not have to think about these any more!! Due to the usual over-subscription of entries for Silverstone, poor Stu was 2nd reserve so would have to qualify not knowing whether he'd get a race. Still, I was confident that he would. Stu and Hels had a gander at the circuit guide whilst I made a mental note to drive the socks off the car! We made our way to the assembly area and I realised that I hadn't got my scrutineering certificate on the car - doh! A quick U-turn and some gaffer tape later and I shot back to get a decent place. Which was easier said than done! Finding the bloody area was a challenge in itself and I made the mistake of following some other cars. After a few wrong turns I vaguely remembered turning in by the medical centre and sure enough, that's where I found Stu and Hels who had got a good place near the front. Out on the track and a couple of things became apparent. Firstly, there was LOADS of grip which allowed a lot of freedom of lines through the bends and secondly, the tarmac that had replaced the gravel on the outside of Copse meant that you could really push through there. By the end of the session I was almost taking it flat with the slightest of lifts to settle the car on the entry. The early part of the session saw me being held up by a certain Mr. Beckwith AGAIN (C not D). Colin makes his car very wide on the circuit but I slid up the inside of him into Brooklands in a fairly agressive manor. I'm fed up of people doing it to me so it's about time I dished some out. That's the trouble with my race technique, I'm very conscious of safety and have given way to avoid potential incidents. Well, sod that, now it's every man for himself! (or woman - sorry Hels ;). Halfway through the session and I couldn't get a clean lap in as I kept on finding slow traffic through Copse, I ran wide at Becketts and bunny hopped the kerb so decided to back off to find some space. A bit too much as it happens as Hels promptly overtook me!! :) Go-girl! Still, this could work in my favour. I intended to get a tow from her down the start straight and would use it to slingshot me through Copse where I thought she'd concede the line - however, Hels had other ideas and kept to it - doh! Still, all's fair in love and racing ;) I turned up the pressure and overtook her on the exit from Becketts down Club Straight. This did leave me with a clear view in front however so I managed to take Copse as I was wanting to. Got a scorcher in and posted a 1:15.83 at the chequered flag according to my lap timer, which was my fastest lap of the session (compare that to a best lap of 1:20.54 last year in the same conditions!). Hels and Stu seemed happy enough when we got back to the paddock and we basked in the sun which had made an appearance from behind the clouds.
So - how did we do? Well, I was happy with an 5th spot on the grid but get this, Hels was 8th!!! She'd obviously got to grips with Copse as she'd posted a flier to finish well up the field. Stu had done well to qualify in front of some more experienced bods. Needless to say, Hels was over the moon and she deserved to be. She certainly raised a few eyebrows in the paddock and Royce Grey and Brett Townsend came over to congratulate her which meant a lot - thanks chaps. I put it down to the expert mechanical attention that her car gets these days ;)
What this did mean though is that she was an even bigger mess of nerves before the race than usual! Her sister was there to calm her down a bit, but she was still all over the place. A mixture of elation and panic I reckon ;)
With the race not taking place until almost 5'o'clock, we had some time to watch some racing for a change. We took up residence at Copse on the grass and soaked up the rays. This probably wasn't such a good idea in retrospect as we saw two BIG incidents. One in which a beautifully prepared Ginetta which we'd seen many times before was the unlucky finder of a spun out Porsche 968. The resulting 'smack' made you cringe and the front of the Ginetta was totalled. Fortunately the driver was OK but you could see by his body language that he was gutted about the car :( Makes you think doesn't it. The Kit Cars didn't fare well either, a huge gaggle of cars managed to miss each other at the entrance to Copse on the first lap only for one to collect 2 cars having missed the main group. 3 cars were looking very second hand with a woman driving a Sylva Phoenix (or Fisher Fury?) looking pretty embarrassed with another Phoenix/Fury and the snot green Marlin becoming casualties. Hope we don't get to see the same sort of thing for our outing.
Before we knew it, it was time to go to the assembly area. It's a lot more casual for the race as there's nothing to be gained from getting their first as you're already gridded for the race. I felt calm but knew that the race would be close and tough. I prayed that Hels and Stu could keep out of trouble too.
The scorching temperature and a slight delay on the grid saw my engine temperature rise above 90 which was concerning, still, the lights went green before it boiled up so that was a relief. I made an average start with far too much wheelspin and clung onto Darryl Beckwith's tail in the run into Copse. I should have gone for the inside but tucked in behind a gaggle of 3 cars in the run up to Maggotts. Just as I was going to make a move under braking, Royce Gray and Malcolm Mitton (I think) went left and right of me and I was forced to slow too much relegating me to 7th :( Hels slipped by aswell so the red mist descended and I took her again on the second lap on the exit from Becketts. I kept getting held up into Copse (like qualifying) and it was real wheel to wheel stuff. The abundance of grip was making everyone a little overconfident when overtaking and when someone dives up the inside of you with the tail sliding wildly (Royce must've been at about 45 degrees round Luffield at one point) you get forced out of the way. There was a fair (or should that be UNfair) amount of 'squeezing' going on too. I think the heat had got to the heads of some drivers and I still can't believe that we didn't have a major incident. Still, we didn't despite some yellow flags and lots taking a trip into the gravel round Brooklands (Hels being one!).
I kept getting scuppered by dives up the inside forcing me wide to finish 10th. A result that I wasn't entirely delighted with, but the car - and me - were still in one piece. Hels' trip into the gravel trap (she got pushed off too) relegated her to 17th but was still a bloody good result. Stu had another excellent race and had a great tussle with Danny Cassar to finish twentysomethingth. I did take some satisfaction at setting 3rd fasted lap though. James Grantham had another place swapping race with Darren Banks and Brian Mitcham to take the flag. Great racing chaps!
So there we go. Some more points on the table (not as many as I'd have liked though). But the car is ready to go for Snett which is my FAVOURITE circuit. What I did realise today, which I had suspected for some time, is that whilst I have the SPEED do I have the NEED? I've been far too forgiving in the past when others are challenging me for position. Come Snett, I won't be taking any sh1t and if they want my place - they're gonna have to WORK for it!
Bring it on! ;)