MG Car Club Race Meeting
Classic Jaguar World XJS Challenge (Dennis) & Proteus Sportscars Jaguars (Adam)
Off to Brands, With the sole intention of not being last!
We travelled down on the Saturday, towing the car with a truck. Arriving at the circuit at about 7:30pm we put up a borrowed tent we had never seen before in the dark! We are not normally campers. We then enjoyed an expensive sausage meal and the delights of Karioke in the circuit club house! Early to bed as we would lose an hour to BST.
The nice RACMSA scrutineer said everything was in order and offered some advice about increasing the padding on the roll-cage. The noise test was passed easily, only 92db. The car is clearly not loud enough!
Lining up in the assembly area was strange! We have in recent years organised the assembly area for the Jaguar Car Club meetings and overall we were impressed with the job the MGCC did.
About to leave for first practice. Dad waved off by Andy and Adam.
The practice went well with my laps time decreasing every lap (see figure). I got my first taste of the quick guys coming past me and looking out for the blue flags. A couple of Listers shot past me going into Paddock Hill. Graham Paddick’s Kougar looked quite impressive also. Somebody spun and caused a red flag which almost halved my practice time. There was also a driver who kept dropping oil and ignoring the black flag to bring him in. The pole position man, Eike Wellhausen, suggested that the number under the black flag was hard to read. My fastest lap meant I lined up third from the back (21st) on the grid. Overall I was quite happy with the time considering that I had only done six flying laps of Brands in contrast with all the experienced guys. All the other novices had been at Brands earlier in the week getting some practice in! (excuses, excuses I know but I’m using the old “racing against more experienced drivers” excuse – I wonder if I’ll still be saying that after seven years of being in this category?). Slight hint of oversteer (not that I know anything – yet) which was originally identified by Dad. Consultation with the pit crew resulted in Andy softening the rear by taking a couple of clicks off the rear SPAXs. Again we are all pretending to know what we are doing.
Just before I was about to leave the assembly area it started to rain slightly! Fortunately it stopped before I reached the grid (especially with only having six dry practice laps!). I concentrated hard on locating my grid space, not wanting to do a Fisichella! My start went extremely well and with experience I think I could have overtaken many cars into the first corner. Even though I was ideally placed for this I decided that caution was the order of the day. Paddock Hill is scary enough without trying out new things on my eighth time through it! In the end I held my position. A similar thing happened going into Druid’s hairpin. I was on the outside, but decided just to fall in line. Another potential overtaking opportunity was ignored as I continued to play myself in. Then at Clearways on the first lap I completely messed it up losing seconds to the pair in front. They were having a great battle in their XJS and D-Type and potentially slowing each other up. I decided to concentrate on not losing any positions and found that the car behind was in no danger of catching me.
So in the early stages I got my head down and tried to close on the cars ahead. I was just beginning to do this when as I was coming across the start/finish on the beginning of my fourth lap I noticed a waved yellow in Paddock Hill. A XJS had spun and parked it in the gravel on the exit of Paddock Hill by the dip. Soon after this a full lap caution period began. In the novice drivers morning briefing we were told to drive around with care at about fifty miles per hour. This I did, although I found that this wasn’t really bringing me any closer to the pack because the gap actually widened as it looked like I was the only one who had seen the yellow/black quartered flags. Eventually I drew close to the pack, but not before the leaders caught up to me!!! (as I was the next driver to be lapped by the quick guys). The first few seemingly ignoring the signals to slow down – although, of course, they had not been at the novices briefing in the morning. This then caused a problem for the restart. The rules state that racing can’t resume until you cross the start line on the lap when green is given . Technically most of the pack, including myself, had to complete almost a full lap before we could start racing even though the leaders were going for it again. However the following lap saw the premature end of the race as someone else put it in the kitty-litter (on the 9th lap out of 12).
I was a bit disappointed to have had a shortened race with actually only four laps of racing in it. However I thought I acquitted myself well. At least the race had a lot of different situations in it, which is good for the experience levels. Roll on Donington. We have decided to try and get some practice in there before the race in June, so hopefully we can be just a bit further up that learning curve before the race begins.
“Montoya-esque weekend” – Dave referring to Adam’s lack of track time. Adam was quite pleased with this comparison!
“Paddock Hill is the most awesome corner in British racing…” Dennis ponders the description before practice.
“Chaos reigned … amid general disregard for black and yellow caution flags…” – Motorsport News 28/3/2001 commenting on Adam’s race.