Outlon Park is the furthest track away from my home on the Essex/Suffolk border this season. This along with my primary backer, logistics manager, chief car pusher, chef and all round motivator ‘Dad’ away on a Lands End to John O’Groats trip with the MGA Register from the MG Car Club and the kids now back at school this meant a long drive on my own. The drive up on the Friday was OK apart from the bit on the M11, A14 and M6 (OK so all of it) where the traffic was horrendous.
The advantage of being on your own is that I could then spend the time on the car making sure everything was just right – thanks to Chris Boulton for a quart of oil that I forgot to bring.
Saturday morning and signing on and Scrutineering, you can never relax until they are done. Its pouring with rain so the Toyo’s are put on and again massive thanks to Chris Boulton for helping push the car to Scrutineering as we thought it was another silent Scrutineering session until two Porsches roared up behind us and then everyone was running engines. I realise that I have left my HANS device at home, again huge appreciation for Jonathan Harker in the Cockshoot Cup for lending me his for Qualifying and both races.
Quali was not good, in fact it was awful – I remembered the track layout but because of the damp conditions was locking up on the corners and even overshot at Britten’s chicane. After 3 diabolical laps I adjusted the rear brake bias to put more to the rear and this stabilised the car in the braking zones so I was able to pick the pace up. Qualified last and 5 seconds off the pace, not good at all!
Race 1 and a drying track and being last nothing to use the Yoko’s were back on. They warmed up quickly and with bias adjusted accordingly once more the grip was there. A poor start (unusually for me) left me chasing Paul, Martin and John and I just could keep 5 car lengths behind but not make any inroads, trying to get a rhythm going was difficult. Trailing through the race was not fun even through I was just behind Paul and Martin tussling for second as soon as the class B and C cars started to lap my race was done as the disruption ruined the gap further. I missed the chequered flag but people waving at the finish told me it was over and at the end of the start/finish straight there is Paul Bryson in the wall. It subsequently transpire he and Martin had a coming together after the chequered flag and Pauls car is wrecked!
A very despondent last and again faster than quali but 5 seconds off still – I just can’t understand it and I am proper fed up – seemed the first half of the season went much better than the second half is going.
Race 2 and Martin has shored up his car and made the grid, so the three of us take off and again I struggle to keep up. Absolutely driving the cars socks off at one point I out brake myself at Druids and pirouette on the grass and carry on. Again as the Class B cars and class C cars come through its distracting – at Knickerbrook Fergus Campbell and Jack Roberts fly up behind and as the usual understeer kicks in and carries me to the edge of the track Fergus kisses the rear bumper trying to find away past.
The race is run and in Parc Ferme the brakes are red hot and smoking as I have pushed the car hard, 2 seconds down better but not great although 4 seconds faster than my fastest lap last year. Work to be done on the driver skills department one feels! A long drive home gets me in at midnight and Snetterton awaits – the nearest track to home.