The event started off with a very long and dull drive along the M4 on a Friday night, not the most fun you can have in a noisy rally car…
However once we got to Castle Combe on the Saturday morning the sun was already shining and the day was shaping up well. Scrutineering and noise all went straight forward. However the absence of my normal timing strut meant I had to resort to my back up ‘composite’ one which I made last year out of cardboard and tank tape…
The work of getting the car prepped ready to be first car on the track meant I missed the chance to walk the course, I would have to rely on my wits and a vague memory of when I was last here in 2001!
The first timed run, was a little scrappy as I found my way round the track. The very open and flowing nature of the track meant it was a good fun run. By the time I got back from checking my first run times, I came back to the car to find others in my class looking over the Micra as they were surprised by my speed. At this point I had a 7 second lead in the class. However I wasn’t fooled by this, sprinters by their nature tend to sand bag in practice, where as rally people tend to drive everywhere flat out…!
The other cars in my class were all Fiesta’s of varying ages from an almost brand new 999cc turbo, to some very modified older ones running sticky List 1B tyres. A real mix of approaches in our class then. We were running List 1A tyres (my usual favourite the Yoko A539), as this was all we had available.
On to the second runs, this was the first timed run which actually count. I wanted to get a good banker time in on this run, to allow a bit of a push on the final timed run. This worked and I found another 3 seconds, however the competition also found time, and got to within 4 seconds.
The second timed run, went very well. I had the confidence in the car, to play with left foot braking though Quarry and Tower bends. This found me yet another 2 seconds. By the end of the day I took the class win by 3 seconds, which over a 3.3 mile course is pleasing to be nearly a second a mile quicker than the rest.
The course was great fun, and proved to be quite a different challenge to stage rallying. The speed element was much higher with quite a bit of use of 5th gear and I was never lower than 3rd gear apart from the start, and on my final run I averaged 72mph. This gives quite a different feel to the car, and makes the challenge all about carrying the speed, but at a much higher starting point i.e. needing real commitment and trust in the car.
Here you can see my final run :-