It’s a long trek to Brands but a fairly easy drive down the M4 and M25 and I was there by about 9. I pitched camp next to Colin and got the car unloaded. Tim arrived and there were quite a few RGBers around so it was the usual evening spent wandering round catching up with people.
Saturday morning I managed to get out on the bike and did 4 laps of the GP circuit which really brought home just how hilly it is! Of course I’m not the first to ride a bike round here and my iPhone app Strava made me 11th fastest up there. After a rather cool shower it was time to get some breakfast and get signed on etc.
The weather forecast was pretty poor for the day but the first session was dry and I set about reminding myself of the way round. The gear change did actually take a bit of getting used to and I was still fluffing a couple of gear changes. Once or twice I reached for the paddles most alarmingly the first time was on the way into Paddock Hill resulting in a brief blood pressure peak! My fastest lap at 54.2 seconds wasn’t fast but was 0.2 seconds quicker than my fastest race lap here in the BDN last year.
The second session was horrid, extremely wet and slippery. Early on Dan Bromilow came charging past me exiting Graham Hill Bend only to do a graceful pirouette in front of me at the right handed kink at McLaren. He did start rolling backwards towards the gap I was heading for but got onto his brakes again and I slipped through unscathed. I really had no idea how much grip I had and was really tippy toeing round but had an identical spin to Dan’s just befroe the end of the session. I got my clutch in quickly and stopped about mid-track actually facing the right way leaving plenty of room for a couple of the quicker boys behind me. I got going again and did one more lap then came in.
The afternoon sessions were dry and pretty uneventful. I stayed out for the full 30 minutes in the final session and felt I was going OK but couldn’t improve my lap times and was pretty despondent and annoyed with myself. I’m simply not carrying enough corner speed, this is sometimes down to braking too early but sometimes just staying on the brakes just a bit too long. I got the rear to move around a bit exiting corners a couple of times but at no stage did I lock a wheel on the brakes or feel the front end move meaning I’m not working the front end hard enough.
After the last session Tim pointed out that my airbox was looking a little second hand. When I made the Fury airbox I went a bit OTT with the GRP and it was very strong but very heavy. I think I over-compensated with this one and it’s light but a bit too flimsy and I think it’s actually the induction impulses that have been gradually killing it off. It was cracked in a couple of places and a complete chunk had fallen off where I’ve secured the spring for the secondary throttle spring via a 6mm bolt and repair washers. I got the airbox off but decided to fix it in the morning – scrutineering wasn’t till 9:40 with qualy at 11:20.
Austen arrived just before 9 and we had a couple of beers and a chat as the paddock continued to fill up, RGB seems to be a formula that other drivers aspire to – Gary Goodyear was Kitcar champion prior to joining us and last year’s Locost champion Scott Mittel has joined us this year.
I started work on the airbox at 7am Saturday morning and it turned out to be more tricky than I’d expected and by the time I’d got it patched up and refitted to the car it was 9:40 and time to take it for scrutineering. This was a bit of a shambles, I was near the back of the queue of 30 RGB cars and the scrutineers didn’t actually start our lot till about 10:10. I realised time was going to be tight so I ran back with my overalls and got changed into them so I was ready as soon as I’d been scrutineered. I was right and we’d already been called to the assembly area so I toddle doff round there with my umbrella as it was really pretty wet by then. My goal for the session was to get enough laps in to qualify and bring the car home in one piece which I did achieve albeit somewhat slowly – in fact slower than my fastest lap in Friday’s the morning session even though it wasn’t quite as wet as it was then.
As I came down pit lane at the end of qualy I got waved to one side by the marshal and instructed to go to race control. I had no idea why but it turned out that my one overtaking manouevre of the session was allegedly under a yellow flag – apparently when I overtook Rew there was a stationary yellow at the station on the right before Druids and waved yellows at the top. I accepted my ticking off but went back to the motorhome and had a look at my video which showed a yellow flag being lowered out of sight at the first station and no flags whatsoever at the top of the hill.
I was 25th on the grid for Saturday’s race, just in front of Rabid RGB team mate Steve Malyon and 26th for Sunday’s race just behind Steve.
It carried on raining off and on all day and I was feeling pretty despondent and really didn’t feel like going out for the race. I softened the dampers off even more and on Colin’s advice removed one of the front ARB link rods thus disconnecting it entirely. We’d already been warned there had been a fuel spillage around the start/finish line making it particularly slippery, due to all the stoppages they’d also shortened our race to 10 minutes. Oh joy. I sat in the car in the assembly area under my umbrella and started to wonder what I was doing there. We got out onto the grid and as the lights went out I got away and could just see a mass of cars in front of me all going sideways as the guys tried to find some traction. I was on the inside line but I headed for the outside as we went towards Paddock Hill and indeed as I crested the brow I could see Gary Goodyear spinning and heading backwards onto the grass on the inside. I was behind Steve for the first lap but felt I could go quicker so when I got the chance I overtook him up the inside going into Druids.
There were loads of spinners and I had a succession of faster guys getting back past me as they tried to recover their positions. Visibility was appalling so you couldn’t see who it was behind you and despite my pre-race despondency something happened inside my head and I wanted to try to race so I decided not to move over for anyone, the faster guys could find their own was past. Steve didn’t trouble me once I was past him and the next car in front was Colin Spicer but he was trying to get Dave Masters. The recovering quick guys (and there were more!) delayed progress but I soon got past Dave exiting Clearways and started to chase down Colin. On the last lap I managed to close right up behind him round Clearways and managed to get onto the power earlier and was about to go past him when I saw a waved yellow flag on the right. I backed off and there was poor old Tim Hoverd neatly parallel parked facing the wrong way alongside the pit wall.
I’d thoroughly enjoyed the race and was a much happier bunny parking the car up under the awning. I’d started 25th and finished 19th, most of the places gained were from non-finishers but I did manage 2 overtakes and was confident I’d have got past Colin Spicer with another lap. The evening was spent in the Spire awning for Steve Robinson’s birthday barbecue.
The rain was bouncing off the motorhome roof all night and with the wind buffeting it around I was awake early. After a bit of blog updating and some breakfast I went for a stroll round but it’s a bit boring in the paddock when everyone’s tucked up in their motorhomes hiding from the rain. During the lighter spells of rain I refuelled the car and got it ready for the race. The forecast was predicting the rain clearing up before our race but I left it with the wet settings until early afternoon – it finally stopped raining not long after 1pm then we had sunny spells and it was quite warm.
The track was completely dry by the time our race was due apart from a small river running across the track just after Clearways. I got a good start and got ahead of Steve and was just behind David Masters around Paddock Hill and going into Druids. Steve got past me on the exit of Graham Hill and I was a bit boxed in behind David but got around the outside of him round Clearways. I closed on Steve down the straight and went past him on the inside into Paddock Hill. At that stage I was fairly pleased with myself. Then as I got onto the power out of Graham Hill Bend the car’s master switch had a brief glitch resulting in me losing the engine for a half a second or so which was enough to let Steve past again. I recovered but the loss of concentration caused a few fluffed gear changes and just as I caught Steve again the car cut out at exactly the same place exiting Graham Hill. I caught Steve yet again round Paddock Hill and up into Druids but then completely messed up my gears on the drop down to Graham Hill and lost touch.
I think my brain was a bit frazzled by then and although I gained a bit on Steve again I simply wasn’t driving well, messing up gear changes, messing up lines etc. and pretty soon the leaders were lapping us and I lost ground. Although I finished the race I was pretty frustrated.
Here’s race 2, no data this time as the log file got split each time the electrics cut out.
We then got called into scrutineering again and I could see they were sticking us on the scales. Even though I knew it should be fine I was still a bit twitchy after being underweight at Silverstone. It turned out they were weighing us, checking ride height and checking our reverses worked. I was 567kg this time so I now know I can run a lighter fuel load, I had about 5 litres left at the end of the race. Sadly James Walker and Lee Baverstock both had non-functioning reverses and got disqualified.
So I need to look at the master switch wiring, the fact that it cut in the same place twice means it’s likely I’ve got a dodgy connection, it’s not a big job to check them all out.
The main problem though is the wiring inside my head, I’m simply not going fast enough round the corners. Although I’m getting the rear of the car moving around a little exiting some of the corners I’m not working the front end hard enough – I didn’t lock a wheel once on the brakes all weekend and at no stage ever felt a trace of understeer. Al Boulton helpfully commented after watching the last test session on Friday that it didn’t look like I was doing anything wrong – my lines were OK and I looked smooth. I just need to gain the confidence to attack the corners a bit harder and let the car slide a bit. John Goodwin had followed me round for a few laps on Friday and said the rear of the car looked unstable round Clearways and was hopping across, his opinion was that I couldn’t have got it round there much faster. I did soften the rear dampers off a bit after that but it was then very wet so I couldn’t really tell if it improved the situation. Anyway, I won’t be giving up. I don’t think more instruction will give me confidence and I can’t buy it so I’ll just have to get some more seat time and persevere.