Just got back in from an exciting 2 days at Donington park race track, we had rounds 9 and 10, with the qualifying early on saturday morning, the first race in the afternoon, and the second race on sunday morning, just before lunch.
This is a circuit not like the others I have driven so far, as its not a converted air field (East midlands airport is close by, as we had planes flying over whilst we were trying to sleep)
Croft and Pembray are converted from old runways, and are very flat, Donington on the other hand is a purpose built racing circuit, built after the success that Brooklands had early on in the last century. With it being purpose built it has a undulating circuit, and they are currently performing upgrades on the facilities and track, with the arrival of the Formula 1 championship there next year. They have already altered the prices of sausage and egg butties according to one of the other competitors.
There was the opportunity of getting in some extra testing on the friday, but the price for me was a little steep £400 for the day, or £290 for just a half day. So the first time I drove round the circuit was for the qualifying session.
Qualifying went well, I was overtaken early on by Ralph (74), but I managed to stay with him, and with the help of a class ‘A’ car that overtook him, I managed to get by, and started to improve my times (with Ralph pushing), I managed to qualify in front of Ralph for the first race, and would be lining up along side John Brabbin (77), we had Sean (71) and Tim (75) in front of us.
The first race was a different experience, I got a good start but managed to get overtaken by Ralph, who had a excellent start, but I was managing to stay with Ralph and John, I was feeling confident, and we went around the lap closely, this picture did not remain for long, as Dan Stringfellow (3) was facing the wrong way on the entrance to the start finish straight and Stephan Lanfermeijer (55) collected him on the way through, so this caused a red flag incident and the race was stopped.
When we were put back on the grid, we resumed the qualifying positions, so it was like a clean slate, I got a better start this time, and managed to get in front of Ralph and was following John closely, but then Sean had got past Tim and John also managed to maneuver himself past, I did not see what happened, but Ralph and myself were starting to fall back a little from them. This did not last for long as there was another accident at Redgate, so there were yellow flags being waved around this corner, so this slowed the field down a little, although I was still in front of Ralph, I was feeling a little pressure from him, but I was confident I could stay where I was, after the second time we passed Redgate under the yellow flag, the race was stopped, this time we were lead off the circuit and the race abandoned.
When we got back to the paddock we had a meeting about driving standards, and were then told the race was still on but would be now only 8 laps, and in 30 minutes. This meant that I needed to get back into the racing gear, and get the car over to the assembly area (we were a reduced grid due to the accidents in the first couple of starts) there were a couple of retirements from this 8 lap race, and it also included a stop and go penalty for one car, but I think we all came home, and in the paddock the cars were being prepared for the second race on sunday.
We had 2 green laps on the second race, I think this was due to some of the cars not being on the correct marks on the grid, so they sent us round again to line up in the correct locations. The start that I got was good, I managed to pass Ralph, and felt that I was moving in on Sean, but then the car seemed to loose drive, and the engine revs climbed but I did not feel the car being pushed forward, and then I say John and Ralph pass me by, and it felt there was nothing I could do. When I went round Redgate, there seamed to be no drive from the gearbox, but then on the Craner curves the drive returned and I was able to push on, although I had lost some time, I wanted to push as best as I could, at the end of the race I was just 10 seconds behind Ralph, and I was very happy with this result.
Although its not over yet, as when I returned to the pits, I noticed that my car was loosing water (it was on the under-tray) so it looks like my waterpump may be starting to fail (car 77 had a waterpump failure on the saturday), and to get my car more competitive for the next race at brands, I need to look at getting a proper exhaust, as the car currently has a factory system on it.