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 May 18, 2005 11:16 AM