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Castle Combe Sports and GTs – 30th May 2011
Result – Podium (2nd in class)
The alarm went off at 5am.. After some snoozing and a shower, I managed to drag myself into the car and set off towards Castle Combe… Why such lack of enthusiasm I hear you ask?
Few reasons really.. I only flew in from Madrid several hours prior, was dead tired and the grey and miserable weather outside certainly didn’t help!
Anyway… I got to Castle Combe for 7:15am and helped Mark unload the car and go through the routine of signing on, scrutineering, changing tyres, breakfast, etc..
For a change, there was no need to check the weather forecasts – the rain was getting heavier and it was obvious it would continue for hours! So, wet tyres on, last minute drive up to the qualifying assembly area and off I went.. Pouring rain, no windscreen, no roof, no windows, race overalls getting soaked.. FUN!
Actually – yes it was!
After making some geometry changes following last test day, and some basic ‘rain race’ setup damper changes, it only took a few laps to realise that I had a well sorted car to drive today!
During the 15 minutes of qualifying my confidence grew and I started pushing the car harder lap after lap and despite witnessing other drivers spinning off lap after lap, I felt very confident in the car and my driving.. Some decent wet lap times followed and I ended up qualifying 3rd in class (best result this year!)
The race was quite an early one.. Given that the car was 100% reliable during qualifying, we only had to refuel and check tyre pressures – nice change from last minute repairs that often compliment motorsport!
Having done reasonably well in difficult conditions during qualifying (i.e. pouring rain), I was actually wishing for more rain for the race.. My wish was granted – not exactly pouring rain, but certainly a wet race…
As usual, I had a very good start (albeit I was bullied off the track and onto the grass) – end result is that I was 1st in class going around Quarry.. Result!
In reality, I was not able to fend off the ‘BTCC spec’ Seat Cupra R and I dropped the lead.. Annoyingly I shortly also got overtaken by a Wildcat (running a big V8 with loads of grunt!). So I settled into 3rd place and just concentrated on opening up a gap on the other class B cars. This worked well and I was soon left alone with some clear track ahead and I settled into a nice rhythm. After a few laps I could see a class A car in the distance, with the class B Wildcat ahead of it..
I soon managed to catch the class A car and overtake it and started closing in on the Wildcat.. Not being content with ‘just’ a podium, I continued the chase and soon caught up with the Wildcat. It took a good exit and traction out of Camp corner and overtook the V8 car on the pit straight in a drag race(not bad from a 1.8 engine!).
Last couple of laps were not particularly eventful – it was mostly about keeping the tyres cool and working my way around lapped traffic.. The checkered flag dropped with me running comfortably in 2nd place.
Good result in difficult conditions
You can download the video here: www.youtube.com/watch