Next Race - ???

Monday, August 06, 2007

Brands Hatch Formula Vee Festival

I dropped the car down to Brands on Friday night. We had a few jobs to do. At Snetterton the car was close to the noise limit. So we thought it was time to invest in a new silencer. Steve Glasswell told me about the silencer used by many and at 35 quid from Merlin Motorsport it was a bargain. So Ian fitted it while I fueled it up, fitted the battery, fitted air intakes and fitted
the bullet camera.

Saturday was an early start, 7:45 scrutineering and a 9 am practice. During practice I tried Paddock in 3rd and 4th. Third gave me more grunt on the exit but in the dark recesses of my mind I remember taking that corner in 4th and Surtess was also 3rd (very close to changing up) but again I remember taking that in 4th changing up about 3/4 along Cooper straight. The car felt good through Graham Hill and Surtess and ok through Paddock and Druids but quite tail happy through Clark which meant I couldn't get the power on as hard I would have liked. There was also a lot of tyre squeal when I hit the brakes in McLaren.

The fastest I've ever been around Brands was a few years ago and it was 54.5. I didn't go in with any expectations and I thought the 56.30 I ended up with would either put me near the front of the heat or the back of the final. Well that time lined up 3rd in the heat and my second fastest
lap lined me up 3rd in tomorrow's heat.

Before the heat. We had a few jobs to do. The track rod on the front had come loose (even though Ian had tightened it before the practice). The few milli of tow out was probably causing the mega tyre squealing on the brakes into McLaren. Also the back hub seals had been leaking and it was clear a bit was getting on the rear left. So Ian changed them.

For the race I lined up 3rd on the grid in what I thought was the grid slot but was waved forward. Then the officials realised their mistake when everyone had been grided up. Everyone needed to go back - for me it was just 5 metres but for others it would mean 50 odd metres. With not very much communication I didn't see too many drivers reversing up. In the end the scrutineers came up with the idea of everyone doing a lap and then regrid again. And that's what we did. Then a green flag lap and we were ready to start. Off the line I got a reasonable start and I was closing a little on Jon Storer but I could see Paul Smith closing much quicker and he nipped past on the inside. He also got past Jon and I tucked in close behind Jon. I could see in the distance Miles Southerton spinning and then I could see Jon starting to spin. I came off the throttle a little and went wide and picked my way past both spinners. I didn't have to worry about the big distance to Paul and Alan for very long because the race was red flagged.

On the restart, no Miles in front of me. Again I started ok and again I could see Paul Smith gaining. This time I went to the right and he just came around the outside of me. I held third around Paddock and I could see Paul and Alan fighting it out with Paul getting past Alan at Surtess. Over the next few laps I lost places at Paddock and at Druids which I didn't defend well - I needed to defend better there. Nick Brown nipped past and I was determined to stay with him and hopefully get the place back (and a few others). Then to my surprise the chequered flag came out. I never saw a last lap board and the race seemed quite short. Nobody told me it had been reduced to 8 minutes and there was no last lap board (one of the beauties of on board camera).

After the race with the engine leaking some oil. Ian was sure it was the engine seal next to the flywheel. I had been getting the odd/faint slip of clutch. So with some time available we whipped out the engine and changed the seal and clutch and popped it back in. Bye bye oil leak. Sunday morning we were going to do a little bit of setup. We thought of dring to some where it was flat. We started the engine and then unplugged the slave and the engine died. A bit of frantic head scratching and Ian with the meter out discovered a knackered cut off switch. Alan Harding came to our rescue with a switch and with it fitted it started and stayed running but no time to check the setup.

For the race, I was again third and this time I didn't have Paul Smith behind me. I got an ok start and nipped past Jonathan into Druid and then the next lap Alan spun at Surtess and I had the lead. Way hey and a bit of gap behind me and then out came the red flag.

On the restart I was second on the grid and got another ok start and think was gaining on Alan. I followed him close for the first lap then Jonathan nipped past me and the obligatory Paul Smith and finally John Townsend. With Paul off there was a group of us and it was shaping up to be a ding dong battle and then the red flag came out. A quite nasty one at Druids with a car upside down.

I queued up for the final and the 2 reserves in front got in but not me. So that was my weekend racing over. Bit pricey - 275 quid for about 15 minutes of racing but then you lose some, you win some. Pembrey and Snetterton I got 4 races at each of those meetings.

The only thing left was the parade. Good to take part and wave at people.