The Highs and Lows of Motorsport. Rounds seven and eight of the BARC SE Quaife Cannons Tin Tops saw us visit the Brands Hatch Indy circuit once again which also marked the half-way point in the season.
The first half couldn’t really have gone much better. A third, three second’s and two wins saw us sitting in 1st position in the championship standings (Class T2) and third overall. But as someone once said, there is about 90% pain and 10% enjoyment in motorsport and so it proved.
We began qualifying in high spirits on a very wet track – the wet weather suits our Peugeot package and I am always confident in these conditions. The track was wet for the start of qualifying, but then the really hard rain began to fall half way the session which was probably the worst weather I’ve driven in.
Lots of standing water could be seen on various points of the circuit and you always felt that there could be an accident just waiting to happen.
We had an altercation with a Citroen Saxo coming out of Paddock Hill Bend when Chris Bicknell span in front of me and I had nowhere to go. Luckily it was only very minor contact and we were able to carry on. Two laps later, we were pushed on to the grass when lapping the Ford Puma of Adrian Matthews.
When the session finished, it was pleasing to see another pole. We ended up nearly four tenths of a second ahead of Rod Birley in the Honda Integra and then almost three seconds ahead of Terry Searles and Chris Whiteman (MG ZR 190 and Honda Civic Type R respectively).
The first race was the next day on the Sunday and with it, a dry track. The rain dance the night before obviously hadn’t worked! It was expected that some drivers might gain whereas others would lose out from the previous day’s wet qualifying. From the rolling start we just held the lead as both Birley and Whiteman pressured. Whiteman powered past to lead at the end of lap one, but then slipped wide at Paddock bend on lap three, allowing both us and Birley back through.
There then followed a titanic battle between the three of us as we began to pull clear of the chasing pack but were less than a second apart, until Birley had a misfire causing him to fall back. Whiteman then powered clear on the main straight and continued to lead until someone dropped oil pretty much all of the way around the track.
While starting to pass the back-makers, I made my move down the inside of the Honda going into Clearways, forcing Whiteman wide in the process. The Honda then hit some oil towards the outside and spun, allowing us to regain the lead . At one point we had a ten second lead, but with one eye on the rear view mirror decided to take it easy to ensure the win and strengthen our position in the championship taking no risks when lapping the slower cars.
Another top step of the podium beckoned and we cruised to our third outright win of the season. After a hectic first half of the race, which saw us swap the lead with Chris Whiteman four times, it was nice to take a leisurely drive to the chequered flag.
The Highs and Lows of Motorsport
Race two saw us once again start the race in pole position, but that is about as good as it got. As we powered down to the short run into Paddock Hill Bend, Chris Whiteman pulled slightly ahead, but on the outside line.
We braked into the first corner, still side by side, and all of a sudden the back of the car stepped out before a massive slide. I was able to hold it all together, thinking I had pushed too hard too early on cold tyres, but as we entered Druids, the same happened again – another big slide, but again, I was able to collect it.
As I was coming out of the corner and down the hill, a big spray of fluid came up from the bonnet and over the windscreen. I then slowed down and ended up coming into the pits.
A quick inspection under the bonnet from Tom Motorsport and it was game over for the day – a split water hose (probably the cheapest part on the car) caused fluid to leak on to our tyres and causing the spin before our first DNF of the season.
Later during the race, David Packham had a nasty looking accident, but it was pleasing to see him walk away before an overnight stay in hospital.
And so it ended. We’ve reached the half-way point in the season and after some consistent finishes which saw us gain three outright wins, a DNF has hampered our season. We headed in to these rounds leading the class championship, but now we find ourselves in second position behind Chris Whiteman’s Honda Civic Type R, albeit it just 17 points adrift.
Both myself as the driver and Tom Motorsport who prepare the Peugeot; have come a long way in two seasons. When we started out, we were hoping for top six positions and reliability and now we’re fighting for race wins each race.
So, as we head into the second half of the season, what are our future hopes? A few more highs, not many lows – much of the same please!
A big thank you to my race sponsors Complete Ice Control, Complete Weed Control, Etesia UK, Fusion Media and Tom Motorsport who prepares the car.
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