This year started off for us with a test day at Blyton Park. The test day proved to be a good opportunity to bring my mum, Helen, up to speed in the Classic Minicross car. First, she got a bit of a scare during a passenger ride around with me in the Supernational BMW Mini, followed by over 2 race days worth of laps in the red car. She tells me that the passenger laps with me helped her get quicker, although I’m not sure because she seemed to spend most of the time swearing!
Unfortunately, on the next time out in the supernational, this time with my girlfriend in the passenger seat, it threw a driveshaft 1 lap in. We changed it, went out again, but unbeknownst to us, the first driveshaft failure had pushed the engine across, bending the engine mount, and the second one went as well. An easy problem to solve in the end, but due to a lack of spares, testing was cut well and truly short.
Following on from the Blyton test, we returned to the circuit for the first round of the BTRDA Clubmans Rallycross Championship. I went into the event with a very positive frame of mind as I’d won overall at the circuit before, and during the heats at least, it seemed to be well rewarded! Heat 1 resulted in a 2nd place behind the Lotus of Paige Bellerby and in the 2nd and 3rd heats I took the overall win, ahead of a pair of Lotuses, a twin turbo Porsche Boxster and a BMW M3 to name just a few! This resulted in a pole for the A final. The final itself however did not go to plan. A poor start dropped me into a pack behind the Paige and with a pair of European championship specification Super1600 cars. An accidental altercation between me and the C2s resulted in a puncture and a DNF, although technically still achieving 6th place. The end result on the day was however much better for Helen. After resolutely pinning herself to the front runners throughout the heats, a handful of mechanical issues for other drivers resulted in a 3rd place in class for her. Proof if it was needed that her pace had massively increased since last year!
Tyre replaced and bodywork damage repaired, we took the Mini to the first round of the British Rallycross Championship at Croft. Croft has never been a strong point of us, and mid-pack results was what we were expecting and achieved throughout the heats. During most heats I ended up stuck behind the E30 M3 of Gary Simpson, which combined with the new surface at Croft being almost like cement dust, the radiators quickly became clogged and overheating problems reared their ugly head, however everyone was having the same issues so we weren’t too worried or disheartened! The finals again was where it took a downturn. While lapping very close to Gary again, his rear wheel studs sheared as he left the hairpin. I was too close to get around him, and quite heavy contact was made, damaging my car to the point where it was craned off the circuit and back to the paddock. Up to this point, we hadn’t seemed to have had much luck.
The day started with us seeming to experience the same issues as at Croft, stuck behind Gary in his M3! In spite of the hold up, we managed a respectable 5th in heat 1, and clever use of the circuits joker laps in the following heats resulted in a 4th and 3rd in the final heat! This gave us a front row start for our Semi-Final, in which, after a battle with the Peugeot of Guy Corner Resulted in a 3rd place. Our final went in much the same way, after passing the Millington powered Fiesta of Mike Howlin on lap 2 I had a clear track in front of me, allowing me to really up the pace and get the fast times in. A fast and clear run, along with a mechanical failure for the pace setting Clio V6 of Tristian Ovenden, let us to 3rd place. An epic result, and one that stands us in good stead for the rest of the British Championship!
2017 so far has been an interesting year, and it looks set to get better from here on, with a new forged engine in build……