May 18, 2005

Super Graduates 2005 Round 2 - Cadwell

Myself, Chris Rome and Roger Ford all decided to make it a long week at Cadwell which started with the L7C trackday on the Wednesday. It was a wet and pretty miserable morning (especially for Roger who had camped overnight) and being in the advanced session, we were out first. It was very, very wet, with lots of spray but did at least get us a start on learning the way that the circuit went. At least two Gazebos lost their lives in the high wind but as the day went on, the weather improved and allowed us to build up more and more speed. The scene was set for a good day's testing on the Saturday.

It's worth talking a little bit about Cadwell because it's a pretty unique circuit. The main things are that it is narrow, and has no run-off. That makes it pretty intimidating. From the start there's a run down to the flat out, 4th gear, uphill left hander at Coppice. Then fast into Charlies 1 and slightly slower through Charlies 2 and down the long Park straight. Then into the 90 degree Park and sweeping Chris Curve. Before you know it you are round Gooseneck and down a very steep hill, braking sharply and on the slope into Mansfield and then accelerating up to the left/right Mountain combination and its very steep incline - it being possible to get air as you come over the crest. It's not over yet, as you weave through the Hall Curves, turn right into (not a) Hairpin and then right again at Barn. Finally, the run down the start/finish straight and it all starts again.

Suffice to say that no other circuit I've been to has inclines quite like Cadwell. Paddock Hill Bend at Brands comes close, but Cadwell has quantity and quality. A great Seven circuit.

So, onto the Saturday test day. It was dry in the morning and we were quickly building up speed, putting in times around the 1:45 mark early on. Roger then managed to set the pace with a high 1:43 whilst I managed to dip into the 1:44s. At lunchtime the rain set in and many people decided to call it a day. We stayed on and the rain soon cleared, giving us at least one dry session towards the end of the day. Roger, myself and Chris were circulating in convoy and Chris had just let Roger through to lead the group. As we came into the Mountain, Chris locked a wheel and went straight on, onto the still wet grass. There was no chance of doing anything at this point and he hit the barrier at an angle, breaking the front suspension and, as the wheel bent back, bending the upper and lower chassis rails. Chris was thankfully unhurt, except in the pocket, but was also out of the race the next day. The weather then turned for the worse again and in the final session of the day Keith Chanter span after hitting standing water on the straight and also damaged his car beyond repair in time for the race.

Onto the day of the race and a lovely bright day. Qualifying was dry and I was relatively pleased with a red flag interrupted session time of 1:44.669 putting me in 11th. Roger was in 8th with a good time of 1:43.526. At the front, Paul Manyweathers was in pole with 1:42.230, Jamie Ellwood in second with 1:42.551 and Matthew Gillbanks in third with 1:42.554. The the grid is here courtesy of MST.

Just before our race, the heavens opened and there was a torrential downpour. The race prior to ours was delayed and it was over an hour before we got down to the grid. Two green flag laps later, we waited for the lights to go out. The narrowness of the grid, along with the conditions, meant it was going to be difficult to pull out of line if you got a good start. The lights went out and I pulled away with not too much wheelspin. Unforunately, Andrew Ennis in front of me didn't get away and I had to hit the brakes, stopping just in time. John Watson behind me wasn't quite so lucky and tapped the back of me, half knocking my offside rear wing off. I also went into the back of Andrew as a result and was now sandwiched!! By the time we all got going again it was chaotic - before I got to the start line I passed Mark Gregory facing the wrong way and I was in about 23rd position as I crossed the line for the start of lap 1! Being a little too polite into Charlies allowed John Watson to shoot through on the inside. By the end of lap 1, I've made up a couple of places and am in 21st with Roger up to 9th. At the front, it's Jamie, Rory and Matthew Gillbanks in the top three places.

Cadwell Lap 1 (16Mb Windows Media File)

That's my rear wing making the noise :-).

During lap 2 Matthew and Rory swap places. By lap 4 it's raining hard again and getting busy as I follow a train of four cars. I find my way past one car on the Park Straight. As we come into the Mountain, a rather bold move is attempted by the car behind me but doesn't come off (watch the mirrors!). I finally get past Dave Jones on the Park Straight during lap 5 and I'm 18th. It's still Jamie, Matthew and Rory at the front with Roger in 10th.

Cadwell Lap 4 and 5 (16Mb Windows Media File)

On lap 7, Matthew takes the lead and I overtake Ali Formstone, moving me up to 17th. I spend the rest of the race trying to catch up with John Watson and while I make progress, it's not enough and I cross the line in 17th. Not too bad given the start line incident and a pretty enjoyable race, despite the weather. Roger finishes 10th and Jamie, Rory and Charlie Hunt take the podium positions - full results are here.

All that was left was to pickup my detached wing...

Cadwell Lap Wing Pickup (5Mb Windows Media File)

See you at Snetterton for our first double header.

Posted by charles at 11:16 AM

May 29, 2005

Super Graduates 2005 Rounds 3 and 4 - Snetterton

The Graduates bandwagon moves on to our first double header of the season at Snetterton, the site of my first ever [Academy] race. It's not my favourite circuit from a layout point of view, and with two long straights it's ripe for slipstreaming, at least in Caterhams. At least the weather was bright and warm, if a little windy - what a contrast with Cadwell Park. It's great that Chris Rome and Keith Chanter are back after their accidents at Cadwell.

I had tested here a week or so ago (I couldn't make the testing session on the Friday) but my times weren't that great, outside the current lap record by quite a margin. Given that so far the new Yoko tyres have meant lap records dropping by 2 or 3 seconds, this wasn't a good sign. Qualifying went reasonably well with a couple of good slipstreaming opportunities, but lots of hold ups too. It was difficult to put consistent laps together but I wasn't too unhappy with my best of 1:25.206 but it was still almost 2.5 seconds off the pace. I was in 16th, Chris Rome and Keith Chanter, both with rebuilt cars after Cadwell were in 15th and 4th respectively, Roger Ford in 9th and Jamie Bashall in 12th. Paul Manyweathers was on pole with a 1:22.989, Rory Young and Jamie Ellwood close behind. Full qualifying times are here with the grid here.

It was going to be very important to get a good start, and as the lights went out, I got one!! I had managed to get past Chris, Mark Gregory and Martin Goss before we got into Riches for the first time. Although things got a bit tight we all got round and I got a good line through Sear. As Ben Sturges slipstreamed past Matthew Gillbanks down the Revett straight there was room to go past both of them and take 11th place into the Esses. Andrew Fletcher had an even better first lap, holding 12th place from his 19th on the grid. Paul Manyweathers was in the lead with Rory Young and Jamie Ellwood close behind.

As we went into Sear on lap 2 I'd managed to catch Simon Powell and got a good tow down the straight, taking 10th. Jamie and Roger were in front and it got interesting into Russell but everyone got through and I was close enough to get a tow from Jamie and go into 9th as we went into Riches on lap 3. Roger also managed to get ahead of Sean Southwood at the same point, reaching 7th. It was now Rory, Jamie and Paul making up the top 3. Sean managed to take the place back from Roger on the inside as they went into the Esses and it stayed this way at the end of lap 3; Jamie was all over the back of me again. At the Esses on lap 4 it's Roger's turn to take the place back from Sean on the inside and I'm a little way back. Into Russell at the end of the lap, Rory spins and causes a bit of excitement on the exit but everyone gets through without incident. Up to 8th now! Jamie's in the lead with Toby Briant and Paul following.

As we go down the straight and onto lap 8, Paul Manyweathers retires and I'm into 7th (briefly :-)). Positions 2-6 are very close as they turn into Riches and soon get even closer, Sean going sideways a little but recovering and getting past. Roger tries to go round the outside at Sear but can't quite make it - his wide run allows me some speed on the inside. I'm not sticking close enough behind him to get a tow and he pulls away as he tows Sean ahead. Suddenly, Matthew Gillbanks shoots past from nowhere and takes me (and Roger!) by surprise getting ahead into the Esses. Jamie also gets through on the inside so I'm back down to 9th. Through Russell at the end of lap 5 I get a good run and very(!) close to Jamie but just about avoid contact. Up front, Keith has made it into second.

On lap 6 Jamie runs wide and onto the grass at Sear and I get him into the Esses but compromise the right hander so much that Ben Sturges gets past both of us and Jamie follows him through as we go round the Bomb Hole. Jamie takes Ben as we go into Riches on lap 7 and I almost put it sideways! I try both sides past Ben and Jamie on the Revett straight, eventually settling on the inside - I get past Jamie but Ben stays in front and I nudge him gently as we go into the Esses right hander. I get an amazing tow down the start finish straight into lap 8 and shoot past Ben into Riches. Ben and I then continue to swap places quite a few times over the next few laps. Into Riches on lap 9 Ben takes a defensive line and as I slow, Rory shoots up behind and gets past me at Sear and overtakes Ben down the straight. I manage to get past Ben into the Esses and try to keep up with Rory :-). I don't manage it and Ben and I continue to swap 9th and 10th place. Jamie is still in the lead, Keith is holding second and Toby is in 3rd at the end of lap 10.

On lap 11 Andrew Ennis is chasing Chris Rome and gets it wrong into Russell and they come together - both are out of the race.

Roger is 6th.

I'm just too far to catch Ben for a few laps and then coming out of Russell on the penultimate lap, Ben puts two wheels on the grass and I get past him down the straight into lap 15. In my excitement at getting a decent place I mess up Sear big time and it's inevitable that Ben will get past me on the Revett straight. He does. As we go into the Esses for the last time disaster strikes Roger as he gets tangled with Rory and spins. I cross the line in 9th, behind Ben, and very pleased. What a great race. Roger recovers to finish 12th, just ahead of Jamie Bashall. Jamie Ellwood takes the 40 points with Matthew Gillbanks in second and Keith in 3rd, his first Graduates podium! The full results are available here.

The video is massive - over 70Mb so it's Broadband only, sorry! Please use a download manager such as GetRight as every failed download counts towards my bandwith limit - and it's getting expensive! Apologies for the slight bluriness in the centre, there was some condensation on the bullet cam lens.

Snetterton race 1 (> 70Mb Windows Media File)

Onto race 2. To set the grid our second fastest time from qualifying is used which isn't good as it puts me in 18th. Keith is sitting very nicely in 2nd behind Jamie Ellwood. Roger's in 8th, Jamie in 11th and Chris in 14th. Again, I need a good start which this time, I don't get. It's even closer through Riches with Martin Goss almost losing it. As we go round Coram for the first time, concrete dust put down on oil from the previous race causes a very scary fog which you can't see through and have no idea whether to brake or not. I try to get past Martin and Andrew Fletcher into the Esses on lap 3 but don't quite make it on the way in - but I do get past Martin on the run down to the Bomb Hole although the tight line I have to take loses me ground on Andrew and the rest of the field.

It's Jamie Ellwood leading as we go into lap 6, Keith in 8th, Roger in 7th, Jamie in (unlucky?) 13th and Chris in 15th. I'm 16th and chasing hard. As I come round Riches I see a waved yellow and then see Roger broadside having come together with a sliding Ben Sturges. The avoiding action looks a bit extreme but didn't at the time as I went onto the grass! Fortunately eveyone avoided Roger and Ben who both had to retire. Jamie hit the grass rather harder than me and although unhurt and his car running, had dirt jamming the throttle and also had to retire. I rejoined the circuit having lost only one place to Matthew Goss. As we run down the Revett straight, Mark Gregory unfortunatley grabs 3rd instead of 5th and his K-series gives up, perhaps not unsurprisingly. On lap 7, the cars have moved from the circuit but the race is red flagged and stopped and a result is declared. I finish in 13th which is reasonable considering my starting position but it was disappointing not to have another 6-7 laps. Chris is in 12th and Keith in 7th. Paul wins the race, with Matthew Gillbanks in second and Rory in third. Full results are here.

Snetterton race 2 (16Mb Windows Media File)

Next round is Silverstone, next weekend!

Posted by charles at 6:38 PM