Monday, 4 August 2008

Elvington Sprint - 2 August 2008

Round 8 of the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship was held at Elvington Airfield near York on Saturday.

I travelled down on Friday night to a lovely wee B&B called Trowthorpe Grange, near Market Weighton. The journey down was uneventful and I managed a good night's sleep before heading over to Elvington on Saturday morning.

The weather started damp and with heavy showers forecast, it promised to be a challenging day's motorsport.

The event was well organised and run by York Motor Club and had attracted a diverse entry of cars ranging from a fantastic looking Juno to a Volkswagen Passat Diesel Estate!

I was in a class of 7 which included 2 other championship runners (Andy Suter in his Saxo and Dennis Hope in his MGF). The rest of the field comprised a 2.0 litre Clio, a Fiesta ST and a couple of Focuses. Having done my homework, I knew that the main competition would come from the Clio and the Fiesta ST. My best time from last year (in perfect conditions) was 91.04 secs and whilst I'd beaten both the Clio and Fiesta drivers last year, they were both in new cars.

The first couple of runs were a bit of a wash-out and it was difficult to learn anything about the dry grip available. I managed to get the car completely sideways coming out of the last corner and I'm sure I crossed the line at a 'jaunty angle'! However, I knew I was on the pace posting times within a second of the Clio and the Fiesta at around 92 seconds.

The first timed run came along and as the weather had cleared, I decided to go all out to get a decent time - just in case the rain came back. I managed to get a half decent start and through the first half of the run without any major hiccups. Coming into the last corner, I overcooked it, the car understeered wide but I managed to correct with a slight lift and back on the power to slide over the line again. Result - 89.9 seconds. I was well chuffed. I was already over a second faster than last year, I was a second faster than anyone else in the class and I was over 3 seconds faster than my nearest championship competition (Andy Suter on 93.09).

Run 2 came along and after a cracking start, I chipped away another half a second posting 89.54 secs. The Fiesta was now down to 90.51 secs but the Clio had done a blistering 88.37 secs. I was stunned (again!) - he'd dropped 4 seconds in one go and I couldn't see me catching him.


As run 3 approached, so did the rainclouds. There was a mad dash for the start line to try and get our runs in before the rain but only 2 cars got out before the most horrendous downpour I've seen in years. I just missed getting out and I had to sit on the startline for over half an hour whilst the rain passed over and then the marshalls frantically made the track safe. Even with their efforts, the track still had large areas of standing water and the best I could manage was 96 secs. It was good fun though! With such a wet track, no-one could better their earlier times but by the end of it, the track was virtually dry again.

The officials then had a debate over whether a fourth timed run could be offered. eventually, they agreed that it was permissible and we were called to the start line. One last chance to clinch the class win but I would have to shave over a second off my time.

I got a poor start but quickly made up for it through the first couple of corners. I had picked up a wee tip from one of the other competitors to straigh line one of the chicanes and it worked a treat - hardly any need to brake. Round the final corner the car understeered again and I lost time correcting it but posted a respectable 89.16 secs. I knew I'd missed out on first in class but I was hopeful of second.

Back at the pits, I nervously waited for the results to be posted. I couldn't believe it when I saw the Fiesta driver had posted 89.16secs - exactly the same time as me. However, I posted the time first and I had beaten him on all the other runs so I was hopeful.........

Hopeful enough to hang around for the awards presentation and I was chuffed to bits when they announced that I had got second place and presented me with a nice wee trophy.

As for the other class championship contenders, the results went as follows:

Me (MX-5) 89.16 secs (25 points)
Dennis Hope (MGF) 91.21 secs (24 points)
Jon Lyth (BMW 325) 92.25 secs (23 points)
Andy Suter (Citroen Saxo) 92.26 secs (22 points)

I reckon than leaves me first in class with three rounds to go but the official positions have still to be published. One thing's for sure, it's going to be very close and it could go right to the season finale at Kames on 4 October........

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