Friday, 26 June 2009

Update time

It's a while since I posted because I've been away on holiday with the family!

Before I went, I had a cracking weekend of motorsport, firstly at Barbon and then at Kames.

It was my third visit to Barbon and I managed to thrash my previous best time by over a second posting 32.56secs which I was very chuffed with. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to gain maximum points in the TJ Services Northern Speed Championship as Paul Rigg humbled me with a blistering 31.72secs on his first trip to the venue. Paul kindly said it wasn't much of test of skill - I guess he is right as the course has just three corners - but it was a good time nonetheless.

Kames the next day was interesting - conditions seemed good but the track wasn't particularly fast. I tried a bit of grass cutting on the first practice run and got a stern telling off from the Clerk of the Course - I did consider arguing but thought better of it! My best time was 102.09secs which only saw me come last in class as usual!

I'm off to Forrestburn this Sunday. Hope to beat my best of 58.64secs set in April 2008.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Weekend Washout

Don't you just hate the British weather. I do. Especially after last weekend at Curborough Sprint circuit.

I was there for round 8 of the Richard Egger Insurance/HSA Speed Championship and had set my sights on a class win to give me a fighting chance of staying in touch with the class leader, John Gallagher.

However, the gods of rain (and my fear of crashing) put paid to that!

I drove the 300 odd miles on Saturday and arrived at the track around 7pm expecting to see a few folk camping. Turned out that it had been raining cats and dogs all day so all the sensible folk had decided to stay at home. Anyway, I pitched my tent (on what I subsequently found out is a bog) and was about to settle in when a guy in a Subaru appeared. He introduced himself as John Palmer, a fellow competitor who lived local. We got chatting and agreed to go for something to eat. He was a class record holder with lots of intimate knowledge of the track and when we got back, he gave me some tips which I was sure would give me the edge on Sunday.


Sunday morning came and I emerged from my tent - still dry and no rain! I went to the toilet block and when I came out, it was tipping down. It would stay tipping down for another 8 hours!

My class had three other MX-5s, all championship runners - John Gallagher (current class leader), Tony Thomas and Barbara Fogden (2008 class winner).

I was worried about the rain as I have a track record of doing badly and it was starting to prey on my mind as we lined up for first practice. I took it nice and easy and posted 53 seconds. This proved to be about 4 seconds off the pace of John and Tony and 2 seconds slower than Barbara. My rain phobia was starting to kick in big time now - especially as I had to sit in the car for 10 minutes sheltering from the hail and thunderstorms.

Second run came and the weather was no better. I really struggled to get any grip away from the line and had a couple of 'moments' which dented my confidence even further. I managed to keep it together though and did a time of 49.96secs - more in line with the others on their first runs. However, John and Tony had improved to the 47sec level although Barbara only managed 50secs - so I had moved forward a wee bit.

Third run and it was still raining, albeit a wee bit lighter now. I still couldn't get a clean start - no matter how gingerly I eased the throttle, the wheels spun. I changed to second and the wheels spun half way up the start straight - way beyond the 64ft timing beam. This was going to be my downfall. Once going, I was getting into the groove and keeping it nice and smooth. I still only managed 49.98secs - worse than before and now a good 3-4 seconds off the pace of John, Tony and Barbara.

Final run came and I was thinking it was a long, long way to go to come last. The rain had stopped by now but the track was still a bit greasy. I had spoken to John Palmer who gave me a tip on the start line position to maximise grip and I duly lined up the car ready for the off. This time, I got a better start and a little more grip as I changed to second......except second didn't come.... instead, I got that crunching, grinding noise you get when you muck up a gearchange. Much stirring the 'box later and I was off up towards the first bend. I kept the boot in and managed to get round in 43.51 seconds - a whopping 6.5 seconds faster than before. I thought I would be nearer the pace with that.

However, John and Tony had other plans and posted 41.30 and 42.93 respectively. Barbara was less than pleased at being squeezed into fourth with her 43.63sec run.

I had plenty of time to think about what ifs on the 5 and a half hour journey home........

Come back soon for some in-car video action.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Curborough Coming Up

I've been preparing for my second trip to Curborough which is this coming weekend, Sunday 7 June. The event is round 8 of the Richard Egger Insurance HSA Speed Championship although its only my third outing in the championship this year.

After the tyre damage at Kames/Teesside, I'm getting one of my spare Marangoni's fitted this week so I'll have a full set again. I haven't decided which tyres I'll take to Curborough. The experience at Teesside made me think twice about the Marangonis which seem to be prone to overheating. I'll wait and see what the weather forecast says before deciding.

I've bought a new tent so I'll be camping on Saturday night for the second time this season. The tent is a Vango Beta 350 which I got from Craigdon Mountain sports in Perth. Got a good discount which is always a nice thing. The tent has a big porch area which means I can set up my chair and sit inside if the weather is dodgy - a huge improvement on the old tent!