Thursday, March 17, 2011

In at the deep end

So that’s it, the first meeting of 2011 over and what a meeting it turned out to be!   With rain plaguing us the whole of the journey up it looked as if it was going to be the usual wet meeting at Northampton, but as soon as we unloaded the car it stopped, not to be seen again for the whole meeting.   The sun even shone in the afternoon.
It was all the usual first meeting chatting and catching up in the pits and the atmosphere felt good.   Everyone was friendly and just looking forward to racing.   We were very organised and got everything done when we first got there.   By the time practice came the track was starting to dry nicely but still had several wet patches around it.   Once the tyres had warmed up the car felt really good so I returned to the pits happy.    That’s always a good way to start the season.
I was in heat 2 and 3 so I got to watch the first heat.   It was a bit rough with lots of banging and tapping through the bends and by now the track was dry and the racing was really quick. 
I was starting in the second group for my races all day and the first race saw me on the outside between the turns.   I dropped a couple of places off the start but managed to get back in onto the racing line and get stuck into the race.   It was a good race to be fair although there was a lot of contact again.   I managed to make up a few places but then dropped back again due to the quicker cars behind me getting past, but after some very hectic laps I finished with an 8th.  Good points and a straight car so once again I was happy.
I was starting on the inside for my next race and once again lost a place off the line this time to a very fast moving Graham Luscombe.   It was all going well until I braked just a fraction too late leaving a bit of a gap up my inside and the next thing I know I was launching onto the centre green!  I was at the back by this point and a lap down so there seemed very little point in rejoining the race -probably a good move in hindsight because from where I was sitting it looked even rougher than the first heat!
We made several small changes to the car for the final.  This time I was starting on the outside at the front of group 2.    Straight away the car felt much better and was easier to drive.   I managed to get a better start and stay in front of the rest of the group.    The racing was quite rough again and really fast and I had started to make a bit of progress getting past a couple of cars.   I don’t really know what happened next but it all went wrong for a lot of people.   There was oil everywhere and I found myself sliding on it.   Thankfully I’d slowed down and just touched the wall - then it all happened behind me with cars going everywhere and all sorts of crashes and bangs!   Luckily I had missed it all and was able to drive away but was told I was unable to restart . . . . Unfortunate, but just one of those things I guess!
This was never meant to be about politics and I’m not into the whole “Who took out who” thing but it was definitely one of the roughest meetings I’ve raced in a long time.   I’m lucky to be taking the car home in one piece ready to fight another day!    Considering all that went on we really don’t have that much to do, just a diff change, a check over and a bit of a tidy up.   I did manage to bend a wheel - one that had only been repaired two days earlier, and as I’m sure most of you now know by now, repairing them is not my favourite job.   I’m going to hide it in the back of the workshop and forget about it until I’ve run out of straight ones again!
Just before I go I want to say thanks to everyone who stopped to chat and say they’ve been reading this every week - it’s the people you meet and get to know that make the racing as good as it is.
The first meeting definitely heralded the year in with a “bang” - albeit not the best kind!
 Thanks as ever for reading.

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