Sunday, 4 October 2009
Picture: Andy Low
The end of the season TJ Services Northern Speed Championship decider was at Kames today and I was in with a shout of the class win being equal top on points with Paul Rigg. The maths were complicated but I needed a full 10 points to have any chance but I also needed Chris Harris in his Elise to score 6 or less. That seemed highly unlikely but I had to focus on what I could do rather than worry about what others.
I had spent all week trying to recapture my mindset of 2 years ago when I did 100.99 secs on standard tyres. I'd never got close to that since - wallowing in 102-3sec territory and blaming the car set-up. The truth was, it was all down to me - I had lost the edge and needed to get it back quickly.
The weather was smashing to start although the track seemed a bit slippy for first practice. I only managed a disappointing 106.8 second run, albeit faster than Chris who did 107.5 secs.
Second practice was a bit better, with me posting 102.8 . However, Chris managed to do 101.8 secs which I knew was faster than he had ever been before. My task seemed nigh on impossible now.
There were some shower clouds gathering so I decided to go all out on the first timed run. I carried more speed into paddock and found a new line through the hairpin which saw me home in 101.15 secs. I was chuffed with that because it was as fast as I had been round Kames since about April 2008. Chris managed to spin off and although Dave Exton in the MR2 also spun, he beat Chris and it looked like I might be in for a very lucky day.
During lunch, the rain came a bit but it was never enough to wet the track and by the time we restarted, the track was bone dry and really grippy. I went out flying and managed 100.87 secs - a new PB on list 1A tyres. Chris did 102.35 sec and Dave managed 103.69. If only Dave could find another second and a half........
Third run and I shaved a bit more off posting 100.78 secs. Chris closed right in on me with 100.82secs. Dave 'the destroyer' lived up to his name and crashed out so it looked like it was all over.
Chris decided not to take his last run but I posted 100.73 secs and so shaved another slither off the PB. Dave crashed out again so this time it was all over and the class award for the championship went to Chris.
The final R2 Class placings for the championship look like this:
Chris Harris (Lotus Elise S2) - 64 points
Kev Hamilton (MX-5) - 62 Points
Paul Rigg (MGF) - 60 points
Dave Exton (MR2) - 51 points
Steve Palmer (Honda Civic) - 43 points
Dennis Hope (MGF) - 34 points
So, reflecting on the season, it was very competitive this year and could have gone either way. The high for me was smashing my best time at Teeside. The lows were getting brought back down to size at Barbon where Paul drubbed me and being beaten by Chris by just 4/100ths of a second at Forrestburn which cost me the championship. The craic at the Wigton MC events is second to none and everyone is really friendly and helpful. I hope next year is as much fun as this year.
Finally, I've taken the difficult decision to retire the racingFive and focus my efforts on the VX220 for next year. So if anyone wants a well sorted, track-ready, championship winning MX-5, drop me an e-mail. Otherwise, it's getting returned to standard and sold on eBay...........