Novice at Donington
By andrewsmith49, Apr 22 2014 07:56AM
Woah what a weekend! Almost everthing that could have happened did happen apart from a huge off and an enormously unlikely first win.
Scrutineering was the first hurdle to negotiate and this done, with a little help, I waited for qualifying.
"Whatever you do," I was told, "complete three full laps or you don't qualify."
Just as I was about to move onto the track near heart failure occurred when I was asked where my scrutineering slip was, thanks James for running back and getting it from my coat pocket. Without this crucial piece of paper, as all experienced racers know, you cannot race the car.
Qualifying then began but it quickly became apparent that the car wouldn't rev beyond 4,000rpm. A sedate number of laps then followed where every car on track flew past me until having lost count I turned into the pits certain that I had done at least 3 full laps. I had qualified last on 3 cylinders and was 20seconds slower than the next slowest car. In addition to this the less said about a brief spiral and contact at the chicane the better.
Spark plugs were then changed and what seemed a short wait for the first race began. Mechanical difficulties were again to raise their ugly head however as the Royale RP26 engine kept petering out when idling. This problem continued until disappointingly I heard the commentator saying we were one car short at the back of the grid. I had missed my first race.
The world and his dog then took to trying to fathom the mystery of my spluttering engine and thankfully came up with a solution. The coil was then changed (by hero of the hour once more James) and there was then a second race to look forward to or worry about and this one was televised.
I followed the advice I was given and essentially let everyone get away from me on the first corner and breaked very early. Pulling away was very enjoyable however as the back of the car gripped and squirmed away from its grid spot. Panic very quickly set in however as all of the cars seemed to begin to disappear almost entirely from view. At this point I made it my aim to keep up with the second to last car. This I appeared to be just about achieving though the gap between the two of us didn't diminish much, if at all.
A couple of fairly alarming things then appeared to happen. The leaders and the cars following them appeared as if out of nowhere and overtook me with no warning and every time they did it, despite looking in my mirrors and occasionally remembering to look for blue flags, they took me by surprise. Watching other competitors moving a great deal more quickly than I was I then decided to take Coppice faster as everyone else seemed to be able to. As I was spinning across the grass a few seconds later I was pleased not to have come near any other cars or barriers and even more happy to find that I could restart the engine and rejoin the race. Crossing the line a few laps later I have to say I was disappointed that the race had run its course but at the same time overjoyed to have recorded a finish rather than a DNF.
Looking back at the weekend I can't quite believe what I did. It could have gone a lot smoother and it could have gone a great deal worse. All being well Brands Hatch is my next race as work commitments mean that I will not be able to attend the Croft meeting. I have also done some very necessary testing at Mallory Park, which was fantastic fun and has given me a bit more confidence in the car.