It's been a long winter and things have not quite gone to plan, so it was great to finally start the season at BARC's Rockingham Sprint. We arrived bright and early in the morning to discover that we were a race suit, helmet and Hans device short of what we needed. After scrabbling around the paddock, we managed to locate loan items from fellow competitors, because club motorsport's like that. Thanks to you - you know who you are and I'm very grateful.
So onto the event. Borrowing a helmet meant that I couldn't do the convoy run as its owner was using the helmet. I took the tow car out instead to check the lines. This meant I didn't get to check the car was running OK, which was to prove problematic. Heading to first practice, the car cut out at the noise test. It was an electrical problem - the battery was dead. I got a push to the start line but the ECU went into limp home mode off the line and I cruised around at 62mph. Not ideal.
I borrowed a charger and used Rockingham's handy power points to charge until second practice. When unclipping, I noticed the charger was rated at 0.6A, which didn't inspire confidence. My lack of confidence was well founded and I limped round at 70mph this time thanks to making use of the overboost on shifting to get a bit more speed. Luckily, I was able to borrow a fast charger over lunch and get some useful juice in the battery.
After lunch, it was straight into the timed runs and I headed off the line in very much a learning phase but having to set a good time as the others were 20-30 seconds ahead of my best in practice. The banked corner was daunting and remembering that we'd done some aero work over the winter, I turned in at a tentative 105mph, so I was surprised to be backing it in sideways! The rest of the lap was considerably sideways, suggesting the car needs a little oversteer dialling out. I was somehow leading the class though as Pete had slowed since practice.
Before the next run, we backed off the front flaps and lowered rear tyre pressures as the car was oversteering at both the hairpin and on the banking. On the next run, I made a great start and pushed hard through the banking, the car still snaking a little to the apex. On the infield section, I caught sight of a FF1600 ahead. At the finish, I was too close for the timing system to work and my time was disallowed. I was granted a re-run and had to refuel the car and re-seat myself in just 5 minutes to get back out. I was the final car to run and whilst the run didn't feel as good as the previous run, it was good enough to improve over my first run and keep my class win. A shaky start to the season, but at least the result was good!