It's the end of a long weekend
mostly spent at Silverstone. What follows is, as best as I can remember, what went on. However, I must admit to
being really disappointed with Silverstone. It's got banners everywhere proclaiming its status as "the home
of British motorsport" and it has to have been the worst place we've visited recently for spectator access
to the racing. There might well be loads of grandstands but if they're all closed and anyway there isn't much point
really. As a spectator I really wouldn't go here at all. We visited Silverstone any times in the past but the difference
between this and a small circuit like Lydden, and even Brands Hatch, is huge. Obviously, if you want to pay a large
amount of money to watch fragments of a procession that calls itself the British Grand Prix then this is where
you go. If you want to watch some motor racing, then find a nicer circuit.
Got there in plenty of time for the 1100 start for the first closed wheel session. The weather had been pretty
horrible on the way and it was really not looking at all good. Knowing what I do know now about the grip available
from A048s in the wet this could be unpleasant again. To be honest, my memory isn't too clear as to what the session
was like apart from:
- it was wet, really really wet, and the car gripped like a piece of raspberry jelly placed gently against a
vertical wall. I didn't fall off, apart from a couple of trips onto the green furry track at the side of Copse
but it was more by luck than judgement.
- they were using lights instead of flags. Well, there were some flags but they forgot to hand out the binoculars
that we would have needed to see them. TBH, the lights rather surprised me at first. I went past a gantry with
flashing lights along the club straight and thought that they looked rather pretty. It was only a while later,
after I had passed someone, that it dawned on me (adrenaline must damage brain function, I think) that those flashing
lights had meant "yellow flag". Dunno how you're supposed to distinguish waved and stationary lights
though. A marshal moaned at me when we came round again, by now they'd red-lighted it, and I admitted to complete
- after feeling really bad about it (was doing times like 1:30ish) it was at least gratifying that a couple of
other class C RGBers were also moaning about the spectacularly low levels of grip.
Subsequent sessions were dry and by the end of the day it was actually hot. I spent a happy time twiddling with
the car a bit and twiddling with my lines, etc., a lot. Although there are only really four corners they're all
pretty interesting. Copse was a bit alarming at first but there's a huge amount of run-off and it all comes
down to braking surprisingly little, turning in and getting on the power surprisingly early.
Maggots/Becketts is tricky and there seem to be at least two likely lines into Becketts. I never felt I found the
best one. What's more, the obvious wide line/late apex one is guaranteed to allow half the field to shove up the
inside. There's also a fearsome curb, looking like the ski jump at the end of a Harrier carrier's deck, to launch
Brooklands is a fairly conventional late turn in left turn. However, the proximity of the barriers caused my peril-sensitive
right foot to come into action again. You do, though, have to avoid drifting out too wide on the apex as you then
get to Luffield which seems to be one of those "just how much understeer would you like?" corners.
In the second session I was down to times of 1:10. Unfortunately I seemed to get the lap timer into some sort of
non-functional mode for the last session so I've no idea what was happening there. However, I'm convinced I was
quicker, mainly because I was getting loads quicker round Copse. So, perhaps a 1:09 or two.
Saturday: All comers race
I was greeted in the paddock by choruses of people calling Adrian
a wimp for wussing out of the Silverstone race. I explained that in fact it was the Oulton one he was dropping
but no, they insisted, he was down as dropping this one. I spent a long time trying to talk to people to check
this but it seemed as though people in the 750MC office had just screwed this one up.
After that, I signed on for the two races, got the first driver's briefing (pretty perfunctory after learning the
circuit so comprehensively the day before) and got the car scrutineered. Come the time for the practice for the
all-comers I set off for the assembly area, which I had some trouble finding as it isn't signposted and it's hidden
behind the medical centre. There was a motley collection of cars in for this one including a few RGBers, some kit
cars, an ADR1000, a few Ginettas and a bloke in an Audi TT, of which more later.
Practice itself was a disaster. There wasn't a single lap that wasn't marred by traffic or one of a profusion of
yellow flags. (Luckily today they'd found a few more marshalls, allowed them to stand less than half a mile from
the circuit and issued them with what looked like a brand new collection of spectacularly iridescent yellow flags.)
I could have gone loads quicker with a clear track but as it was I ended up with a 1:10: 24th out of 36. Fastest
was a Radical at 1:01, slowest a "Maitresse Special" which is one of those Austin 7 thingies at a leasurely
Once the race came around we trundled round to the start and I was worrying about how to get a decent start; the
last races at Lydden were characterised by two completely cr&p starts. As it was, I managed another cr@p start,
bogging down and allowing a whole bunch of people to come past. Once we got round to the club straight I was tucked
up behind a Striker of some form and a bunch of other people, peril-sensitive foot rammed to the floor when all
of a sudden the car in front braked about twice the distance from the corner that I was aiming at. I got the fright
of my life and just about avoided making another bonnet lunch. Obviously, the braking performance of an RGB is
way better than the collection of cars in front of me. (The striker, a caterham or two and a Ginetta, I think.)
Once the race got going I was in a large bunch of people charging around (my memory's a bit hazy about this bit).
What I do remember is that I started making a complete early morning canine repast of Luffield and ended up with
a box full of neutrals on several laps (I was just getting worse and worse). As a consequence got passed by a couple
of people, including the aforesaid Audi TT. I was just about to get past him again, honest, when the race got red-flagged
and we moved slowly around towards the start expecting the marshalls to tell us what to do. Eventually we all came
to rest in a huge gaggle just before the start line and stopped. I asked a marshall what we were going to do and
he said he had no idea, in fact no-one ever told them anything. Eventually they decided to form a new grid in the
order on some lap or other so I ended up in a different place after having to reverse back down the circuit between
cars going in all sorts of directions, some doing three point turns, etc., etc.
So, off we went again and I promply ended up 2" behind the Audi again. In fact, there I stayed. At first I
was happy as I plotted my move. I was waaaay quicker through the corners than him and could have braked miles after.
My initial plan to just exit the corner quicker and out-drag him came to naught on the spike of his turbo which
just pulled him way past me after I'd got level, over and over again. So I was going to have to outbrake. However,
that needed bit of bravery which seemed to be in short supply, Just when I was going to make a fabulous move into
Copse, well that's my story anyway, the batsrads used the chequered flag.
Oh well. At least I had been racing someone. I only got lapped, in a bit of a blur up the inside of me round Copse,
by the A class RGB of Tim Harmer and a gaggle of 3 Radicals. There must have been at least 1 second covering the
four of them. In fact, that's the order they finished in with exactly 1 second for all four. Anthea commented later
that Tim Harmer's driving style could only have been called brutal. Apparently he got the jump on the radical posse
at the restart and them just kept in the way all the time. I finished a second behind the Audi, just about to make
my devastating move. (Yeah, right.....)
Seriously, the race was great in that I passed a load of people and kept in there. However, it's clear that race
craft is going to take some time to learn.... Should be fun though.
Oh, and other big problem is starting. Both of the 2 starts in this race were awful: loads of revs, fail to break
traction and the thing bogs down and half the grid whizzes past.
Sunday: RGB race
Another day with iffy looking weather. Ho hum. However the practice sessions before ours were OK so perhaps we
were going to get away with it. Eventually we went off for practice and away we went. I tootled around for the
first 3 laps, making sure I got a time in. Then, I was just starting to wind it up. I'd done a 1:15 so far which
was OK as a backstop and now it was going to be really good, honest it was.
However, I thought too soon. Approaching Maggots flat in something or other it seemed as though someone had turned
a tap on. I hit a wall of water and suddenly there were cars everywhere, there was a gaggle of about 6 cars at
the entrance to Becketts facing in a large collection of unlikely looking directions. So, it was back to 1:30,
1:28, 1:25 and so on. The rain did stop (although after the session got red-flagged and restarted) and eventually
the track was starting to get quicker. At some point in the rain I remembered what everyone said and started trying
some different lines. The difference at Luffield, in particular, was incredible. Way off the line the track was
covered in obvious marbles but there was huge amounts of grip (relatively) compared to the inside, apex-ish, bit
of the track.
Anyway times started to pick up and I started going for it. I decided to have a real go on what was probably lap
10 or 11 and got Copse pretty well sorted and headed up to Maggots/Becketts only to see Alastair (I think) parked
sideways across the exit of Becketts. Obviously he'd been going for it too....
Then they finished the session. :-((
So, I ended up posting that 1:15 that I'd done on a warm-up lap (lap 2 in fact). All the same, that was good for
P23 (out of 30), so rather better than I'd managed so far. Looking down the timing sheet all the fastest laps were
posted on laps 2, 3, 10 and 11. So some people had got in a decent lap and the end and some had not. Obviously,
what I should have done was noted the potentially lousy conditions and gone for it right from the beginning. Mind
you, one of the fastest times from Friday would have put me in P6 which would have been a bit scary...
Worst of all, Colin, who had beaten me by 0.3 second in qualifying at Lydden was 0.1 ahead of me this time, with
a time set on lap 10.
The race came around amazingly quickly and off we went to the grid. This time, I was going to make a decent start.
So, when the 5 second board went out 9000 rpm it was. The lights went out and I dropped the clutch only to realise
that some complete muppet had omitted to put the car in gear. What a complete moron! But, I rammed it into first
and got an amazing second start, probably a result of being really teed off and just bouncing the engine off the
rev limiter. There was a bit of a wiggle but nothing too serious. Pretty soon I was stuck to the back of a group
of cars. Not too sure who was in it apart from Colin, although Anthea tells me the usual bunch of class C bods
was there; Oliver, Stephen, Nick and the two Richards. This time, I was going to pass some people and Colin was
going to be the first one. However, he obviously saw what was happening and decided to retire due to a tranmission
problem. I did, though carry on and even passed a few people, including one superb move that no-one but me saw
up the inside of Copse...
After that I was in a bit of an empty space. I'm pretty sure that my times suffered at about this point; I seem
to go much quicker when there's a target in front of me. I did get lapped by three class A cars at some point here.
I also got better at Luffield. Gordon Milner had been talking about a trick involving a fire marshall's point.
There's an "F" on a sign here and he reckoned that aiming for it at the appropriate point allowed you
to kill the understeer and, stone me, he was right!
Even better then I lapped someone. Judi was going around at the tail of field. This was only her first complete
race and she is getting quicker. However, I shot past with the benefit of a blue flag (there's a nice change) and
Best of all I then saw a red car in front of me with a cross on the back. Hah! It was Adrian :-) I caught up with
him down the club straight, was stuffed right up near his drive chain all the way round Luffield and got on his
inside as we went down towards Woodcote. Doug in the other Genesis had passed me earlier even though I'm sure that
on a twistier circuit I would be miles quicker than him (well, this weekend at least). I reckon that the excess
of power (180 against 135bhp) on a circuit like Silverstone just allowed anyone to get past. The same would surely
apply to Adrian but I kept my foot in it and just as we got towards Woodcote he dropped back. He said later that
the car was starting to slide and so he backed out of it.
Anthea said later that Adrian looked like I did in my first race. That is, he was driving round but wasn't really
in the race. I've got to the point now where when the car does start to move around on the circuit it doesn't
immediately scare the willies out of me. Adrian isn't quite there yet.
Then the finish came around. I was 21st out of 25 finishers. Not brilliant but I did beat three class C cars and
one class A. My best lap was now 95% as quick as the best class C lap meaning that the sequence is now 88%, 90%,
93%, 95%. What is bad is that, again, my fastest lap was early in the race and after that I slowed down. Probably
due to lack of concentration, my lines through Copse were getting noticeably worse, and lack of a target to aim
What's more, I managed to change gear properly again which was a relief.