October 20, 2005

Super Graduates Rounds 11 and 12 - Pembrey

...and suddenly it all seems over so quickly as we head to south Wales for the last races of the season. The grid was down to 20, reflecting the distance that Pembrey is for most people. The Supers champsionship was still open with Rory Young or Jamie Ellwood being able to win and Paul Manyweathers, Matt Gillbanks and Toby Briant in with a shout for third place. I was 9th and hoping to make up a place or two.

I was only booked in for afternoon testing which consisted of three 20 minute sessions. The first two weren't great and I struggled to get close to the times that had been made in the morning. Then, before the third session, I changed the setup on my car in the dry for the first time this season! It made the difference, at least psychologically, and I managed a 1:06.7.

Onto Saturday morning and qualifying. Chris Rome and I had agreed to slipstream each other round and this worked fine until lap 7 when I took a cross-country detour through Dibeni. At this point my best lap was 1:08.049 and I was worried about position, but the grass obviously did me good as I put in a 1:07.200 (lap 12) and 1:07.116 (lap 14 - last lap) to give me reasonable hope of a good position on both grids. I was really pleased to be third on the grid in race one with Jamie on pole (1:07.002) and Rory in second (1:07.034). Chris Rome was in 9th (1:07.918), James Sykes in 11th (1:08.331) and Jamie Bashall in 16th (1:08.869).

MST have the full qualifying times and the grid.

So, race 1 and I'm nervous! The lights go out and I get a reasonable start but it's not quite good enough to stop Rory getting over towards the inside and we go round the hairpin turn 1 together, but I have to back off as Spitfires approaches. I try not to worry about what's behind me and concentrate on staying close to Rory which I manage to do until Honda Curve when I am absolutely sure that I'm going to go sideways off the track but, more through luck than judgement, I manage to hold it. I'm amazed that Andrew Ennis (and others!) don't stream past down the straight into lap 2. Straight after I have gone round Hatchets Hairpin my offside front wing detaches itself and starts flapping. This time I'm determined not to let it put me off but it obscures the apex of every right hand bend making it difficult to be fully committed. I stay in third into lap 3 as Andrew over commits himself into Hatchets, locking up with an impressive amount of tyre smoke. I'm still in third as we cross the line into lap 5. Chris is now in 8th. At Hatchets I make a mistake and can't keep the chasing group behind any longer, both Toby and Andrew fly past on the inside. I try, and fail, to go past Andrew at the end of the lap and then just set about trying to chase him down.

On lap 14, Toby takes the lead with Rory in second and Jamie in third. Chris is into 7th, James in 9th and Jamie Bashall XXXXX. Rather than me catching up with Andrew Ennis, Andy Molsom catches me on lap 15 and goes through at Hatchets. I manage to take my 5th place back on the same lap at the flat-out Woodlands. Lap 17 and Rory is past Jamie and up into second. Chris is ominously close in 6th, Andy Molsom in 7th and James Sykes in 8th. The final lap, 18. Chris is much faster that me down the straight to the hairpin and I rather badly cut him up (oops, sorry Chris) when he tries the inside before coming round the outside(!) - we stick side by side round Spitfires but Chris is ahead into Dibeni. I am concentrating so hard on getting the best line through Brooklands that I leave the inside totally open and Andy Molsom takes advantage, pushing me down into 7th. Andy brakes harder than I expect for Honda Curve and keeps me behind as we cross the finish line.

Pembrey Race 1 (23Mb Windows Media File)

So it finished Toby first, Jamie second and Rory third, with Andrew Ennis 4th, Chris 5th, Andy 6th, me 7th and James Sykes 8th. Unfortunately it was discovered that Toby, who had unwittingly bought three tyres from a local tyre fitter, was running the wrong compound A048Rs and he was disqualified, moving everyone up a place. Jamie secured the championship and Rory was safe in second with only third left to play for. Chris added to his two best improver awards at Spa with another.

MST have the full results.

A new experience for race 2 - on the front row in second place behind Rory. Jamie was in third with Toby in fourth. The full grid is available from MST.

I get a good enough start, keeping my position and managing to chase Rory/keep Jamie behind for lap 1. I pull to the outside at the second time into Hatchets which is stupid as it lets Jamie up the inside and ahead. I drop behind a little but am back with them by the end of the lap, just as Jamie takes the inside - and lead - at Honda Curve. Rory battles back and we are three abreast down Park until the hairpin forces an order which allows me back into second and Rory to re-take the lead.

I'm right with Rory as we cross the line into lap 4 and try the outside line but it isn't going to work! I try the same thing, with the same result, on lap 5 and decide that the battling needs to stop for a while as Jamie and Toby are getting very close! I hold second until we come into Hatchets on lap 7 when I lock a wheel allowing Jamie through on the inside. I am very relieved to stay on the circuit though! We go through Spitfires together but Jamie has his nose ahead and the inside line and makes second stick - I catch his wing with my tyre as we cross over (sorry Jamie)

I make a mistake at Brooklands Hairpin on lap 8 and I think Toby is going to storm past but he doesn't. Another mistake at Honda Curve means the inevitable happens - Toby comes past. The three are battling hard but there are no position changes until lap 14 when Toby gets past Jamie to take second. They are obviously slowing each other up and it's good to watch from a little way back - I can see cars in the mirror but they seem a little way off. No sooner do I think that than Andy Molsom appears large after setting a scorching fastest lap. He makes one move but then drops back for a while allowing me to battle with Jamie at Hatchets on lap 17. Andy makes his move at Brooklands which slows us both up down the straight and I'm worried we're going to lose the lead group but we're back with them at Hatchets on the final lap (18) and I again try, and fail, to get past Jamie. Andy makes his final move into the Esses but I hold the racing line and he is forced to drop back. The race finishes Rory, Jamie, Toby and me. A great result to close off my season! Full results from MST.

Pembrey Race 2 (64Mb Windows Media File)

Season roundup to follow.

Posted by charles at October 20, 2005 1:20 PM