Thursday, 12 November 2009

Brands Hatch - October 24th 2009

  • Qualifying : 28th (last) - 1:19.426
  • Race 1 : DNF
  • Race 2 : DNF

  • After all the dramas at Mallory Park there was alot to fix in a short time if we were to be out for the final round of the season at the Brands Hatch Formula Vee Festival....

    Graham, Alix, John, Mo and all the other guys at X-Spec Motorsport in Hinkley worked their miracles to repair the body work and chassis damage, welding in a new chassis leg and putting a complete new front end on the car.

    Mikee as usual worked harder then anyone really should to source and fit a new radiator, drive shafts, belts, brakes and god alone knows what else... only to find after final assembly that the transmission problems were more serious then just the drive shaft, the gearbox had no 3rd gear...

    With just 4 days to go before Brands and no suitable replacement to be found anywhere, Mikee removed the gearbox again and headed back up to Hinkley were he worked with Graham and Alix to hastily rebuild the box from spare parts!

    No testing was possible beyond a quick drive around the industrial estate, because the box was only back in the car the night before leaving for the race! Maybe I should have called the team Last Minute Motorsport ;)

    With Jan from (the fantastic charity we have been supporting this year!) coming to watch me race for the first time the nerves were back.... especially given the crash last time out and this being Brands Hatch...

    For those who have read previous entries, you will know that one corner has had me anxious all season.... Paddock Hill.

    One of the most challening and thrilling corners in british motorsport, you reach Paddock Hill at the end of the straight just after the pit lane exit joins the circuit, making it feel somehow narrower then it really is.

    Walking the circuit the night before the race you realise just how much the track drops away as you turn into the sweeping right hander, at speed it is like driving off a cliff. In all the years I have been coming to Brands Hatch to watch races, I have never been to a meeting where somebody didn't end up in the gravel on the exit of Paddock Hill.... normally on their roof!

    So with the rain coming down hard, I certainly was not going to be suffering from over confidence in qualifying this time!

    If my preamble was a little verbose this time, don't worry, the report of what acctually happened in qualifying is anything but :(

    On the first timed lap the car suddenly started banging and popping and refusing to boost as I came through Druids and down to Graham Hill Bend. The car would not rev above 4500rpm and the engine light had come on, the ECU was in limp home mode...

    .. so I did. Mikee quickly looked over the car and declared it was nothing i could fix in the 10 minutes of qualifying remaining. We decided I should go back out to complete the manditory 3 laps needed to qualify.

    I went back out and did my best to stay out of the way off the racing line so as not to ruin anyone elses times. As I started the last of the 3 laps I was achieving a pityful 70mph on the straight! Downshifting to turn into Paddock Hill the gearbox, so recently and rapidly repaired, let go, jamming in neutral and leaving me no choice but to park on the hill up towards Druids.

    As always, the Marshalls were fanstastic. They make sure we're all safe, cheer you up with a joke when you crash or your car dies... no motorsport could happen without these fantastic guys and girls who give up their free time.... for free. If you see one in the bar, buy them a drink!

    In the paddock
    So that was it... end of season, with engine problems and gearbox problems it was beyond the spares we had available and we could not race. A disapointing way to finish the season, but what a season!

    3 Wins, 5 Seconds and 3 Thirds in our first season of competitive motorsport is an awesome result and once again I want to say a huge thankyou to all the people who have helped this year, but most of all to Mike and to my sponsors:


  • X-Spec Motorsport

  • Silverstone Competition Tyres

  • Lico

  • Japanese Performance Magazine