Back on the horse

It was a case of getting ‘back on the horse’ at Donington Park, the first race since my large crash at Silverstone in the SuperCup. This meeting we were concentrating solely on the ClubSport Trophy and we were really looking forward to giving the 45 minute mini-enduro our all.

I went out first in qualifying. These sessions are pretty crazy, with a lot of cars on track and a large spread in speed, so you need a bit of luck on your side to find a clean lap – and then nail it when you do. I was pretty pleased with my effort and it turned out it was enough for us to set the fastest time for our class; 0.2 seconds ahead of a Ford Fiesta and 16th overall out of the 39 car grid.

During our driver swap however, we were strapping Alex in when Dad noticed fluid coming from the car. Unfortunately a stone had hit the radiator and made a pretty sizeable hole. So that was the end of the session, and the start of a race against time to get ready for the main event. We didn’t have a spare and neither did any of the other teams running mark 3 MX-5s, so we had to plug the gap. My friend Katie had come to watch, so we dispatched her to the local Halfords for some Radweld and Gorilla Glue. After several attempts and a bit of work with some pliers, the leak stopped. Fingers crossed it would last the race.

Alex started the race. We were streaming the onboard live to YouTube and also pit to car radio for the first time, which really helped. He got away very well, dodged the carnage and took a handful of overall places on the opening lap, however the Fiesta – our main rival – had slipped past. The Safety Car came out at the end of that lap but when it came in Alex quickly muscled past to take the class lead. They ran bumper to bumper right up to the pit stop; it was exciting stuff.

Heading into the pit lane, Alex unfortunately forgot to start the pit stop timer. The rule is that you need to spend a minimum of 2 minutes in the pit lane. To be on the safe side, we pulled away quite late and ended up going over by 25 seconds. This wasn’t ideal, but it was better than getting a penalty at least.

I headed out and got on it. The car felt great and in amongst the overtaking and battling I set a lap time fast enough for 3rd on the SuperCup grid, so I was pleased with that. We fought back to second place by the end, 17 seconds behind our Fiesta friend. Alex was a bit disappointed, but I thought we did well to get out there in the first place and we also showed we have the pace to win our class, which is great.

This was the last race of the year sharing with Alex and I have to say a big thank you to him and Charlotte for having me along. It has been great fun and from my side has helped me get up to speed with these cars, which are very different to the mark 1 I was used to. We are hoping to do some more next year, and I think we’ll be knocking on the door of some class wins.