Monday, September 3, 2012

A bit of a smash...

Just a small crash, minor skyward view, minor slam into the ground, and amazingly, minor damage.

Friday was testing at Snetterton, everything went to plan in the first session, I spent it finding my sights, figuring out where the car wanted to be on the track, and gaining confidence and speed. In the second session my gearbox finally gave out. 3rd gear has been crunching, and it was obviously the end of it, sadly it didn't make it to the end of the year like I had hoped it would. The Caterham guys worked magic and had a brand new gearbox in the car in 2 hours flat. Afternoon testing showed great pace, running in 1:28s, with a low 1:27 thrown in with some drafting. This should have put me right where I needed for qualifying, pole.

Saturday morning I went and marshaled, as part of the novice license you can marshal for a day to gain a signature on your upgrade license. Saturday afternoon was qualifying. I made a poor choice, and ended up choosing the wrong "fast" person to follow. With my fastest lap being the one after I left the pack at the front, I realized I didn't have the banker I thought I did. Oh well, 12th is fine, at Donington I drove from 12th to 5th in half a lap, without a safety car I was positive I could make it from 12th to 1st at Snetterton.

Sunday morning I was marshaling again, this time at the Montreal Hairpin. Out of the 6 races in the morning, there were 2 crashes or incidents at my corner. This did not bode well for the Academy. I left marshaling knowing without a doubt that there would be a crash in my race, I just didn't know who would be in it.

3:43 and I'm sitting on the grid waiting for the green flag lap, 100% focused on my start plan, and where I was going to put the car to move up the grid. 3:45 I was waiting for the lights, those red lights that start the race... they're out, I get a good start in first, but miss 2nd because the new box isn't run in yet, that's ok, focus on the corner and how to block passers. 3rd gear and I've taken 2 cars, right stick it on the inside, don't collect that car, hold wide, got him. #39 is the 3rd car I pass heading towards turn 2, the Montreal hairpin. I move to the inside of the track to make use of the space, and gain at least 2 more positions through braking for the hairpin. Hang on, people are locked, tire smoke filling my sights, nobody has spun yet though, I can continue attacking and gain places in the mayhem. Then smash! Someone span, just a second after I had made the decision to continue overtaking. With cars behind to the left and right, and 4 cars in front, I saw no way out, and decided to scrub speed as much as possible before impact.

The car has a bent A arm, 2 bent ball joints, and a few bent bolts, but that's it, and will be fixed by the end of the week. As you see, I failed to fasten my HANS device, a stupid mistake, one that will never happen again for as long as I am racing. However, luck played a huge part, and I have no injuries, no pains, and am fit and well, ready to race another day. Here is a series of photos, taken by Rachel, one graphically showing how high the front of my car went off the ground:

Here's a view from behind me, showing just how few options I had open to me.

I will be spending a lot of time prepping for Rockingham, with the same fire and determination to win. There are also 2 more races I am intending to enter after that, non-championship, but my main goal is to upgrade my racing license, from National B to National A.

The next race is just a month away, there's work to be done, things to fix, no time at all to hang about and mope about not finishing a race.


  1. Sorry to see that your season hasn't really gone the way you planned so far... like you say, got to go for that win now!

    What's the story with the Gearbox? Is there any sort of warranty on that? 9000 miles (only a tiny proportion at racing pace) seems extremely poor? Or is it pretty much accepted that they only last a season?? Most modern gearboxes appear to last 100,000 miles no problem on the road (including track days galore)...

    1. These aren't new boxes, they're reconditioned Sierra boxes, apparently 9k miles is way above the norm.

      However, the way they handle it is fantastic, it was replaced in 2 hours flat, and I was back on the track in the afternoon. New rebuilt box was 395.

    2. Ahhh - OK, so you're not getting a new box in the first place, but you're not paying for a new box to get it replaced either... makes sense.