By andrewsmith49, Aug 11 2014 07:51AM
It was very useful to begin this race weekend on Friday with a half day of practice before being catapulted into qualifying and two races, which always seem to come and go with terrifying speed despite the fact that they are usually separated by hours or even a day. The afternoon broke down into three 35 minutes sessions which were spent gradually lowering lap times as I got used to breaking points and lines through the corners.
Camping at the circuit over night was also a first and was good for quelling the uncertainties that usually spin around my head as I wonder whether the M25, M40 or M1 will ruin everything by holding me up on the way to a race meeting. The only solution to the knots in my stomach before heading out on track however seems to be to depress the throttle and head out on track as once you have begun moving quickly you are so fully occupied there is no time for nerves.
The value of testing was quickly proven on Saturday morning as a qualifying lap of 1 minute 44 put me 12th on the grid out of 16.
As the afternoon race approached I was aware of one thing I wanted to avoid and one thing I wanted to try and achieve. I wanted to avoid rushing backwards when the lights went out; solution, give it more revs as I hold the clutch in. I also wanted to see if I could hold onto my gird position for the duration of the race-Cadwell being a narrow track I felt this might be a realistic aim.
As the lights went out I was pleased to see I didn’t lose any significant ground off the line and held my position through the first corner, ‘Coppice’. I then adopted my usual wide line for the second part of ‘Charlies’ only to find Graham Terry’s Van Diemen RF80 sweep by me on the inside. Not being confident of overtaking on a narrow track I felt this was a place I would probably not regain. I was surprised therefore to find the green Van Diemen slowing at the top of ‘The Mountain’ and even more surprised to find myself put two wheels on the grass to slip by before ‘Halls Bends’.
The next few laps were spent dividing my time between scanning to see if Ian Jeary’s Dulon D9 was still hot on my tail and looking ahead to make sure I wasn’t going to miss a breaking point or wander carelessly off track (something I had managed before the 'Gooseneck' on Friday, thankfully it was only two wheels and was soon corrected). As the race developed I began finding a bit more time going through ‘Coppice’ and ‘Charlies’ and I also tried to get the throttle down earlier on the exit of ‘Mansfield’ and ‘Barn’. At the finish I was placed 9th overall and 6th in class; Stuart Kestenbaum having retired from the lead with a broken drive shaft and Kevin Howell having spun after ‘Park’ and lost a number of places in the process.
The success of race one meant that I was starting from 9th on the grid in race 2. Hopes of holding onto this position were quickly dispelled however as Kevin’s orange PRS drew alongside and passed me before ‘Charlies’. Stuart Kestenbaum’s Van Diemen RF79 then passed me on the straight before ‘Park’ and in my mirrors was Ian Jeary looking to do the same. I settled into reasonably well paced lap times however and was pleased to see that Kevin’s PRS was not really getting away from me. At certain parts of the track I was even gaining and heady thoughts of a possible overtake between ‘Charlies’ and ‘Park’ began to formulate. These were swiftly extinguished however as an over optimistically heavy use of the throttle coming out of ‘Barn’, a corner I had struggled with all weekend, sent me into a spin that saw me stall and then unable to restart. Watching the rest of the race from the top of the bank on the inside of the track at 'Barn' was interesting but not as enjoyable as being in the race. Mike Gardner took his second win of the weekend, Andrew Smith finished 2nd, Leandro Geudes of the 'Jesus Saves Racing' team took 3rd place and Stuart Kestenbaum a battling 4th from the back of the grid.
Overall I was really pleased with the weekend. I recorded my highest finish and had been in the thick of some racing close to the middle of the pack and I was still in one piece as was the car; though the RP26 will remain with MK8 Motorsport for some love, care and attention before the next meeting. Cadwell is a fantastic track and turning into ‘Coppice’ flat out at over 100mph feels amazing and is not something I will forget in a hurry and nor is gathering it all together and knocking it into 3rd for the double apex right hander 'Charlies'. Sadly I am going to miss the Oulton Park round but I am looking forward to returning to the Brands Hatch Indy track to see if I can improve on my performance there earlier in the year.