Anglesey is quite a long way from where we’re based and it’s similar for most other people in fact. With that in mind, we decided that rather than setting off in the early hours of the morning we would travel up on Saturday afternoon, and stay at the circuit overnight. We managed to negotiate the loan of a Land Rover Discovery for the weekend (work benefits) which meant we could travel up in one vehicle. Big thanks to Brian for that one.
We had packed a tent and began to set it up at around 8.30 pm. Unfortunately before we had finished putting the tent up, a stiff gust of wind snapped most of the poles and we had to find somewhere else to stay. There was a free room at a B&B about a mile down the road which came in handy, so £89 later we were out of the wind and in a warm room.
The next morning, after a nice spot of breakfast at the B&B we made our way to the track. After signing on and rolling the car through scrutineering we drove around the paddock a bit. The brakes hadn’t quite felt right since we changed all the pads and they weren’t get any better. We decided to bleed some fluid through them and got the car up on axle stands. It soon became apparent that only the rear brakes were working which gave us some cause for concern. It turned out, one of the hoses that supplies the master cylinder was kinked and wasn’t allowing fluid to flow in from the reservoir and we weren’t actually bleeding fluid through. We had moved the reservoir away from the exhaust manifold after the fire at Castle Coombe. So, with Rob holding the pipes, we managed to bleed out the trapped air and got our brake pedal back. The brakes were faultless all day after this mild panic.
This weekend the CSCC were offering another race for pretty much anyone who fancied it, called “Sports vs Saloons”. There were a few Caterham 7 type cars, a couple of BMW M3s, a Porsche 968, Lotus Cortina, BMW 1800 and a few Jags as well as a couple of cars from our series. We had signed up to this along with the usual Tin Tops but had to contend with qualifying and race sessions back to back. The Tin Tops was first of the sessions and there was some light drizzle and with no dry line appearing. Along with some scare stories from Northerners Masters and Lawton, we decided to fit our new wet tyres. They didn’t work very well and the track turned out to be just a little bit damp and nothing to be concerned about. We managed to qualify down in 15th with a time of 1.26.5. For the next qualifying sessions, we changed back to the usual Dunlops and posted a time 5 seconds quicker which put us 8th in that race and would have put us 3rd on the grid for the Tin Tops race rather than the 15th that we had managed. It was nice to know that our lack of pace was down to the tyres and we should be able to make up a fair few places in the race, provided we weren’t too far back to catch some of the cars further up the grid.
We also found ourselves getting rather involved with some friends of Ryan’s who were racing an M3 in the future classics race. We gave them a hand with the pit stop along with some swift repairs to the bumper and light cluster after they had a coming together with another BMW. This kept us occupied between our morning sessions and the Tin Tops race, before we knew it the races were upon us.
We were to start 13th on the grid after a few cars ahead of us had dropped down after qualifying for various reasons. Nevertheless, Ryan made a decent start and was up to 9th by the end of the first lap. He managed to make up a few more spots until he came in for the driver change in 5th position. Rob took over and after making another spot in the pits, came out with a BMW compact in front who pitted just before us. There was a bit of a gap to the quicker pairing of Woods in his Focus and the Tongue/Hammersley in the Peugeot 306. Rob managed to slip ahead of the BMW at Rocket after a couple of laps and then a few laps later the Focus was parked in the middle of the circuit, the alternator apparently having fallen off which meant we were up to second. Towards the end of the race, we noticed Rob was catching the 306 at a reasonable rate, but there were a few back markers to make it through too. We assumed he had a problem and Rob was trying his upmost to get in front of him before time ran out. Unfortunately, there’s wasn’t quite enough time left and we finished just half a second behind over the line! Second overall and first in class is our best result so far so we’re really pleased.
The Sports V Saloons race was up next and after a frantic change over where we had to throw a can of fuel in, we were soon on the grid, the brakes and tyres still fairly warm from the Tin Tops race. We were 8th on the grid lined up behind 6 Caterhams and an E36 M3. Rob started the race this time, having come straight from the Tin Tops race. The start wasn’t the best with a Porsche and an E46 M3 getting past, then an XJS also having the best part of a (very long) half car length in front into the banked hairpin. The car seemed to have far more traction than everyone else out of the hairpin though and we soon left them all behind through the quick section. The field spread out with the Caterhams starting to lap people about 2 laps later and the first M3 was off in to the distance. The other M3 caught up and over took for half a lap a bit later but seemed to suffer some sort of problem (loose wheel we found out later) and slowed again, so we got a place back. Rob entered the pits at the halfway mark, managing to get away with locking the wheel on pit entry. Ryan took over at half time and put in a good solid stint, the car didn’t seem to show any signs of slowing down and he posted our fastest lap of the weekend in the last 5 laps of this second race. We finished where we qualified, 8th overall, 3rd in class and the second car on the road with a proper roof. Overall we’re really happy with how the weekend went and particularly pleased with the consistency and reliability the car showed. There is still a bit of work to do on the set-up but we’re now looking forward to Donington Park on August 30th.