Thursday, November 1, 2012

Even better than the last - Birkett 6hr relay at Silverstone

On the 27th, a group of Caterham Academy drivers showed Silverstone what they were made of. Out of 68 teams, we finished 9th overall, not bad for a 125bhp Caterham! We were however, competing heavily with a number of teams for the top 3 positions in class, and were running 3rd overall at one point. We eventually ended up 7th in our class, but right up until the final hour or so we had held at least one of the podium spots.

Here's my first stint, the race start, which was, well, it was filled with massive cars, and after the huge pileup on the grid last year, I was being very cautious.

Once through the first corner or so, where the field opened a bit, I started feeling more confident, and found that our cars were faster than a huge majority of the field! It was still strange being around all the massive Jags, and when a Civic hatchback looks big... By far the best part of the first stint was the epic David vs Goliath fight to the death with the big yellow Jaaaag. Once I was past the Jag, I managed to throw in some quick times, culminating in a 2:35. Scott had a great stint following me, and we were 2nd in class after the first hour! Jason and Zolli followed, with two very solid, very steady and consistent stints, putting us 3rd overall and 1st in class.Tom and Tristan brought up the tail of our team, and both drove exceptionally smoothly, gaining speed throughout their stints and keeping us in contention of the top 3. My second stint happened at the start of hour 3, the sky wasn't as blue, and the wind had changed... there was the distinct feel of rain in the air.

(stint 2 will be here... it's on its way).

Stint 2 was a lot less eventful for me, fewer overtakes now that the field was spread out over the 4 mile Silverstone GP circuit. It did allow me to put in a series of 2:36 laps, not quite making the 2:35 of the first stint, but very consistent and controlled. Scott's stint stayed dry... Jason's was also dry for the most part... But just as Zolli was about to start, the hail started, mixed with rain, and the track turned from grippy, to ice in seconds. Jason's times went way down since our tyres really don't do well on greasy surfaces. The times went down, but they all stayed on the track, keeping it in roughly straight line!

By the end of the final stints of Tom and Tristan, the track had a reasonable dry line around some corners, but an oil slick like surface around others. The last few laps of Tristan were in the 2:41s again, but it wasn't quite enough. We had competently beaten the opposition in the dry, but under handicapping, the rain just destroyed us. Oh well, it wasn't about the trophy, it was about the day itself, the friends, the driving, and the fun!

Without a doubt, it was the best weekend I've had all season, and will remember it fondly until 2013, when we walk away with one of those all important trophies!

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