Something strange happened today - and despite the reputation of the british weather I hate to confess that this is (for me at least) a first. Today it rained! In three years of racing I had not previously had a wet race. I've owned a brand new set of Hoosier wets for nearly four years and never, ever used them until now.
I dropped my car and trailer off in the paddock on Saturday and then disappeared off for the evening to see friends (that went a bit wrong but of no importance). It was beautiful weather when I left, slightly overcast but warm and with a lovely breeze. When I came back on Sunday morning it was raining, not hard but persistant but getting heavier. By the time I had signed in, changed the tyres over and reached the scruitineering bay it was really raining hard. The cabin was seriously steamed up (and that is with anti-mist treatment on the glass) and the wiper was virtually useless. While I was queing up there were two accidents during the qualifying sessions, one Uno was totalled (flipped and rolled) while a 924 decided to go in for some facial surgery by attempting to rearrange a tyre wall. Eventually the qualifying was suspended as two rivers of water poured over the track along the start finish straight.
Thankfully by the time qualifying was reopened the rain had all but stopped although the track was spectacularly wet!
My plan for qualifying was 3 or 4 laps to get the feel of the circuit and test the modifications to the cooling system. Any more would be pushing my luck and with only one other competitor in my class I had nothing really to lose by qualifying last (if that is what happened). My plan went out the window when it became apparent that the car wasn't going to overheat and that those Hoosier wets were actually very grippy indeed. I was stuck behind Trevor and Peter who had been taking it easy and while they were pacing themselves and found I was going faster than planned. Then the old plan came back with a vengence, a muffled pop from the engine bay followed by a loud whooshing noise every time I hit the throttle wasn't good. My best guess was that an induction pipe had popped off and the sudden loss of any boost was a good indication that I was correct. Annoyingly this happened just as I crested the mountain so I had a whole lap of the circuit to do with very little power before I could pull off.
A quick look under the cover in the paddock showed I was spot-on in my assessment. The pipe from the compressor had popped off - thankfully an easy fix but I wouldn't get out for any more laps during qualifying and as a result qualified last (15th).
The race itself was in much more pleasant weather - the rain was down to the occasional spot and the track was drying on the open side, the wooded side was still sodden though and the two rivers were now two dribbles. I decided to play my joker for the first race on the basis that all I had to do was finish to earn 36 points and there was a fair chance that Andy in his Minari wouldn't finish (haven't seen him finish at Cadwell yet). The rolling start went well although to be honest I couldn't see anything past Trevor and his lancia as it was sat right in front of me. Alan Duly was alongside in his bright orange Fiesta (good job it was so brightly coloured as the spray along the start finish straight was terrible). Alan was quickly passed and I set about tackling Trevor who appeared to be having problems in the wet. Actually Chris Brogden was moving backward through the pack and holding Trevor up, it took him a couple of laps to get past and left me with the same problem. I have to give all credit to Chris as the Uno is very quick (a chat in the paddock later revealled he had 160bhp - much more than I can claim to have at the moment), much quicker than expected and it took me a couple of laps to get past, outbreaking him into Park corner. Trevor had pulled out a nice gap in those two laps but I closed that down in the space between Park and the approach to the Mountain - which is where it started going horribly wrong. Someone had dropped oil on the track and I ended up horribly sideways. I caught it but not before Chris sailed past again.
Another couple of laps and I was about to pass Chris again when saw where the oil was coming from. Puffs off blue smoke from under his car as he went around corners was a giveaway but the marshalls didn't see it so I backed off and let him go. The smoke stopped and I closed in again. Chris had learned his lesson at Park and wasn't giving anything away so I had to try elsewhere. I could carry more speed through the corners but again Chris wasn't going to give anything away so I kept pushing him. I could get alongside coming into the first of the Hall bends but with an opponent that wasn't going to give anything away I had to keep backing off. My next plan was to hang back and go for a more complex pass, carry the speed through the corner but from further back and then nail him into the next corner, using the long start-finish straight (still slightly risky thanks to the water). The whole plan unravelled as Chris hit an oil slick and went into the wall at Hairpin. I had taken a wide line to power through Barn and was left with nowhere to go as he bounced backward towards me.
With our two cars blocking the track the race was red flagged and with 10 minutes gone the race was declared finished. What I didn't know at the time is that Andy had retired from the race during the green flag lap - all I needed to do was finish. Had I known I certainly wouldn't have been pushing Chris so hard but as they say hindsight is always 20-20....
The front of my car is totalled, I had somehow manage to pin the Uno without either of the forward chassis rails touching him. The result is a totally mashed front end. The new radiator is history although it would appear that it is the sole casualty in terms of racing hardware. All of the panels are ruined but they are almost inconsequential. The chassis rails have bent though which presents more of a problem. More on this later when I've had time to assess the situation further.
See the results page for the current scores.