September 1, 2005

Super Graduates Round 7 and 8 - Rockingham

My first outing in my Super Graduates spec car was at Rockingham (although on the International Long layout rather than the International Short for this meeting) so I was hoping that I would be able to remember it. I got into it pretty quickly, but despite all day testing on the Friday, my times improved little over the day. In the end I was over two seconds off the pace and pretty disappointed.

As we went out for qualifying I was hoping that I would be able to put in at least one of the best times from yesterday - preferably two as the second fastest time is used for the second race. In that respect I was pleased with one lap of 1:57.963 (12th) but not so pleased with the second fastest (14th in race 2). At least the time on my lap timer corresponded to my official time this round! Jamie Ellwood was on pole with 1:55.968, Charlie Hunt alongside on 1:56.179 and Rory Young and Toby Briant on row 2.

MST have the full qualifying times and the grid.

I don't give it quite enough revs at the start and for a moment, I think the car is going to stall. It doesn't and I get away reasonably well, managing to hold position until we get to the chicane coming off the banking when everyone comes up the huge gap I've left on the inside. My line round the next corner is also terrible and I have cars coming past on both sides! I manage to make it round the rest of the lap without losing any more places and am now in 13th. Rory has taken the lead from Jamie, with Charlie holding third place. Lap 2 is better and I make two places as Toby Briant and Simon Fletcher come together at Tarzan. Somewhere on the lap, I also go past Matt Gillbanks who drops towards the back of the field. James Weedon gets past me as we go through the hairpin and onto turn 4, but I manage to slipstream him and get ahead just as we cross the line onto lap 3. He's back past through the hairpin off the banking and it's not until the banking at the end of the lap that I can get back past and take 11th place into lap 4. The bad news is that I've got the outside line and am the loser as we go into the chicane - very, very narrowly missing the cones in a broadside maneouvure :-). The poor line loses me another place as John 'green wing' Watson comes past but again the slipstream at the beginning of lap 5 proves successful and I take back 12th place. At the end of lap 5 the leaders are unchanged from their end of lap 1 positions: Rory, Jamie and Charlie. John gets past me again (13th) but at the end of lap 7, I'm up into 10th having got past Nick Haryett, Toby Briant and Sean Southwood who has retired with a broken De Dion ear [Did Toby and Sean come together?]. As we go through turn 4 and into the chicane on Lap 9 I finally get past John Watson after trying both the outside and inside and am inside the top 10. Jamie manages to get back past Rory to take the lead. On lap 10, John and a charging Matt Gillbanks come past at the hairpin out of turn 1. I miss a gear (or four) coming out of Tarzan and both Toby and Nick get past me although I slipstream them both through turn 4 and into lap 11 and back into 11th place. Again, it's very tight through the chicane off the banking! I take my best defensive lines and just manage to hold off Toby for 11th. Rory re-takes the lead on the last lap to win, with Jamie in second and Charlie in third.

Rockingham Race 1 (57Mb Windows Media File)

MST have the full results.

The grid for race 2 was based on second fastest qualifying lap which put me 14th. Jamie was again on pole, Charlie in second and Andy Molsom in third. The full grid is available from MST.

It was an interesting start. I was watching the lights intently but then saw a couple of cars moving, so I reacted and started to move but then had to hit the brakes when I could see the lights were still red. A split second after that they went out and we were away! I was sure to close out the inside line into the first hairpin. It did get a bit hairy but no damange was done, although Nick Haryett managed to get past. As we came up to the hairpin leading onto turn 4, Chris Rome got past on the inside - from 22nd on the grid! The slipstream paid off again as we ran round the banking and down into the chicane on lap 2. It wasn't until lap 3 going into 4 that I managed to get past Ben Sturges and up into 13th. As we came into the hairpin onto the banking twards the end of lap 6 I was close to Nick Haryett and determined to stay close and get a slipstream on the banking. Unfortunately for me, Nick braked a little earlier and harder than I did normally and I wasn't prepared - I managed to avoid hitting him but went straight on as I locked up and lost three places (16th). Keith Chanter spins on lap 7 which gains me one place back. At the first hairpin on lap 8, Ben overcooks it and goes straight on but manages to stay ahead of me. I catch and pass him at the end of lap 8 and we then swap places three of four times over the course of the lap. The battle continues during lap 9, 10 and into 11, the final lap. Ben slipstreamed past me as we crossed the line but left his braking a little too late for the chicane and aborted, going straight on across the grass. I had started to turn in, but a split second of hesitation about where Ben was going made me miss the chicane too and go straight across the grass. Keith Chanter (recovered from his earlier spin), Chris Rome and John Watson all went past me. I chased hard round the lap and was just able to catch John Watson before the line, taking one place back and finishing 14th. After the lead two swapping positions for the whole race, Jamie takes the win with Charlie in second and Rory third. Full results from MST.

Rockingham Race 2 (44Mb Windows Media File)

I was a bit disappointed after my strong qualifying at Silverstone and result at Donington - but it was probably good to be bought quickly back down to earth. More than any other round, people were changing the setup of the car with a lot of people running the green front ARB. I didn't change anything and whilst I don't think there is necessarily a great deal of time in it for me (certainly not two seconds!) it is something that I need to start understanding.

Event of the season next - a double header at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.

Posted by charles at September 1, 2005 2:26 PM

Top save when we toughed it out into the chicane during race 1 Charles!

Posted by: jweedon at September 9, 2005 12:15 PM
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