This would prove to be the first chance I would get to use my race license, which is something I have held for a number of years but never used.
The event is a mix of driving tests in the morning (autotest, acceleration test, and braking test). This is then followed by a 40 min ‘race’. The true challenge is to complete a allocated number of laps, which the organisers calculate via a complex formula. I had to achieve 13 laps of the full GP circuit within 40mins. However there were 40+ others cars on the track as well at the same time, so clearly it all becomes a race. Hence why MotorsportUK require all drivers to hold a race licence.
The early tests went well, and all completed ok. Then it was on to the ‘race’!
After two sighting laps, it was a rolling start over the national pits start / finish line. To be honest I got a little caught here with it being my first ever race start and quite a few cars caught and passed me. However after the first corner, I zoned in and got my foot down. I was using the MGZR as Suze was using the Micra is the same event. Although she started to catch me at the start as we headed down to Maggots/Becketts the extra torque of the ZR pulled me well clear of the Micra. By the end of the first lap I had caught and passed quite a lot of cars including a 2.2 Astra, and many other classic cars. After a few laps the event became strung out over the long lap, so there wasn’t really anyone else around you. This was good for trying new lines and getting used to being on circuit.
Then the bonnet started lifting, thankfully it was only one corner but it was quite distracting and clearly not helping the aero of the car. After a few corners I spotted marshals seeing this and radio’ing it in. Knowing that coming into the pits was an lost of points situation and would affect results, I carried on with slightly less pace on the straights. However then the black and orange flag came out with my number of it. I came in and a scrutineer helped me sorted it out, also some others (many thanks whoever you are) offered to tape the corners down with tank tape. So I jumped back in and set off. Sadly this cost me a lot of time in reduced pace and then in the pits and I only completed 12 laps….
The results are tough to calculate and to date they still not final, but current provision results show me finishing 19th overall and 2nd in class. Not too bad out of 119 entries for my first race event. Looking through the results, if I had completed my full 13 laps and not entered the pits I would have finished 5th overall and 1st in class. How annoying that one bonnet pins caused that!