Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Best for last, the races that nearly didn't happen

Well, in an exciting and intense end to the season, the Caterham Autumn Trophy at Donington did not disappoint.

After a 5AM start to make the 1hr 45min drive to Donington in time for sign on an scrutineering. The drive, from around the Oxford area, all the way to Donington, was through thick fog, visibility around the 100 meter mark, sometimes less. Turning up at the track, was the eeriest thing I have ever experienced. Despite all the cars, trucks, and people, there's something about an invisible track that is just, spooky.

The fog stayed low and thick until 12:30pm, no racing, a 5am wake up, could have been 9am. Oh well, it was all about the racing, and the clerks and officials worked tirelessly to figure out how to get all the races done. In the end, each 20 minute race was shortened to 13 minutes, and qualifying was thrown away. Because there was no qualifying, grid position for race 1 was decided by championship points, leaving me down in 17th place (12th place in group 1 points, but lots of group 2 drivers as well).

Race 1 went well, I moved up from 17th to 12th, unfortunately I couldn't break free of 11th and 13th, to get clean air and catch the top 10. I had ridiculous fun driving that race though it was just packed full of position changes and defensive driving. - video on its way

Race 2... race 2 is where everything happened, finishing position of race 1 decided grid position from race 2.

I was use to a 12th position start, and in the first race of the season I had gone from 11th to 5th, so I was focused an ready to do something similar. A solid start saw me in 10th after the first corner, and fighting for 8th through the old hairpin, sitting happy in 9th for the first lap, keeping pace defending from 10th. Lap two saw 7th spin off down the Craner Curves, so I took the opportunity to grab 7th from 9th. I was watching the spinning car intently, I knew that if he didn't stop then he would come back across the track, and probably hit me, he didn't though, but I did lift just to be sure.

The lead 6 cars pulled a slight gap then, but I managed a gap to the cars behind me then as well, so I had clean air and threw in a 4th fastest lap, a 1:24.8, just .3 off the fastest lap. A lap later first and second places connect and spin out, so I'm now in 4th place. I collected the final few car lengths to third, eventually make the pass stick. Then find myself in second place! On the last lap I was in second! Unfortunately, all that battling meant Matt Dyer had caught us up, and put a good move on at Coppice, grabbing 2nd, and as I stay right defending the chicane from Nigel, he gets massive draft from Matt and then closes me out in the chicane.

I am bummed I couldn't quite hold on to the podium, but I am absolutely off-the-wall happy I made it all the way to 2nd place from 12th. From the race, I also learnt new ways of defending positions, and how to keep positions I gained.

I think it was a great way to end the season, not a perfect high note since there was no trophy and podium involved, but it was certainly a great race.

Matt, Alex, Nigel, it was fantastic driving with you guys, nice clean racing with some really good moves pulled by all.

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