Thursday, January 27, 2011

Twenty-Ten (part 1)

2010 was a very mixed year for us with racing, it had some massive highs but also some terrible lows.  It got off to a flying start with the arrival of the new Tigra.  We bought it rolling off Hairds and spent the winter bolting it all together at home ready to go on display at the NEC.  I think it looked beautiful sat on the stand and I have a picture of it as the background on my computer now.  If I’m honest it was far from finished and we still had lots to do before we could take it out testing.
The first time I drove it was at the Haird test day at the end of February.   I arrived at the track first and was so excited I could hardly sit still as I waited for everyone else to get there.   The plan was to test at Northampton that day then head back with the car to David’s in Newmarket, check it over and change the diff Saturday morning then go to the Ipswich practice on Saturday night.   Dad was going to come straight from work on Saturday, meet me at Ipswich and bring the car home.
After the first lap in the Tigra I knew I loved it.   It was so much easier to drive than the Saxo and even straight out the box I could feel how much quicker it was.    I loved the Saxo and was proud of how far we got with it but it was just very old.   Panels were a nightmare to get hold of and we made all the suspension bits ourselves.    I spent all day thrashing round Northampton getting used to the car and sorting out any initial problems that came up.   Just as we were getting ready to do the last run my parents arrived out of the blue to have a watch - and as soon as I pulled out onto the track the car developed a misfire . . .
I spent all the next morning changing bits in Hairds workshop to try and cure it and by the time it went in the trailer Saturday afternoon I was pretty sure it was sorted.   However, as soon as it reached about 4,000 rpm, it starting missing again.   Dad was at the track by now and between us we set about changing bits between runs, but all of it was to no avail and we left with the misfire still not cured.
Back home we took the engine straight out and back to Toovey for him to look at and fitted a very old engine we had in the garage so we could go and do a practice day at Hednesford.     We got there and the car ran fine and handled brilliantly but the old engine was very slow leaving me a complete second off the pace of the other Nationals!    John Toovey rang us saying there was nothing at all wrong with the engine and no matter what he did on the dyno it didn’t misfire.    We had sent the coil pack and plug leads up with the engine and he said he would run it with them on.    Sure enough a phone call a few minutes later revealed number 4 plug lead to be the problem.   We had done all that work for a plug lead!   It had a brand new set on and we took it for granted they would be fine.   Lesson learnt there for sure!
With the new engine in and everything sorted it was off to the first meeting full of confidence and ready to race.   The meeting went well and we picked up some points along the way.   The highest finish being a seventh in the second heat.   The car was brilliant and I came away really happy.
The great thing with the car is the way it responds to change; you can make a minor adjustment and really feel the difference it makes.   You could pretty much do anything with the Saxo and it would still push into the bends but the Tigra is so balanced and will just stick anywhere you put it.
Easter Monday at Ipswich saw the car’s third meeting and will certainly be a day I’ll never forget!   I started the first race on the inside second row and went into the first bend still in third.  It stayed in that formation until about lap 4 when the leaders tangled going into the scoreboard bend leaving me enough room to slip up the inside and into the lead!    I remember thinking that it was now or never to win a race and was determined to hang in there for the win.   The race seemed to last forever and as the 5-lap board was out I ran really deep into the bend almost letting Chris Harvey come up the inside.   I managed to hang on to the lead and take the win and as I crossed the line I felt so relieved that I’d finally won a national race!
The season rolled on and we kept making changes to the car, getting it better and better with every meeting we did.    We picked up some points - and a few DNF’s - but I was really happy.    May saw us make the trip across to Skegness.   I had never even seen the track before and had heard so many different things about the place but when we got there I was pleasantly surprised.   It was a brilliant track to drive and was really quick for its size.   I’m glad it’s back on the calendar this year!   The first race saw me finish near the back but in the second race came a second place finish.   I had managed to overtake quite a few cars to get there and it felt like such an achievement.   I’d spent so long starting at the front and trying to outrun the other cars - and to actually overtake them and gain places felt so good!    This backed up with a 4th or 5th in the final certainly meant we went home with a smile on our faces!
This is turning into an epic blog now. . . so I’m going to sign off for today.  I’ll pick it up again next week and take you a bit further into 2010.   Thanks as ever for reading
Until next time

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