NSSCC Race Report Silverstone 3rd April 2004
Car - 944 Turbo
This was a non championship race held by the Peterborough Motor Club. Sadly, only 4 of the NSSCC regulars decided to make the trip to Silverstone to support the meeting. Perhaps the cars were not ready, or they simply did not want to risk them in a race without points. That being the case honourable mentions have to go to Robert Pritchard, Helen Allen and David Hoyle (making a short journey for a change).
The organisers decided to throw open the entries for the race with the result that a number of the Welsh Saloons joined our race, plus a number of Caterhams, Mallock and Radical sports racing cars, with the result that there was a full grid.
I lined up in the collecting area and was about 6th to be released onto the track. I immediately started to push, despite the damp track, and pushed to the front of the field by the time we had reached Copse. There was quite a lot of grip at Copse, but much less at Luffield and Becketts where there was considerable understeer. For about 4 laps I had a clear track in front of me, and then one of the Radicals blasted past me down the pit straight, at just about the same time that I started to catch the tail of the qualifying cars an overtake them. From that point onward each lap was compromised be me overtaking other cars, or being overtaken myself by the Radicals, Mallocks or quicker Caterhams, including Robert Pritchard.
When the times were finally published I had qualified 13th, with the slick tyred Caterhams of Rory Sockbridge and Simon Ray in front and behind. I was however the fastest tintop car.
The track had dried fully by the time of the race as I sat there thinking, I had better make a good start here. As the lights changed I have an extra blip on the load pedal, released the clutch, and suffered severe axle tramp as the rear wheels spun. Too much right foot, but I just kept the car in first waiting for some traction. The cars in front had pulled away, but I just managed to avoid being passed by the cars behind as I snatched second gear. Now the car was rolling the engine could do it's work and I took a defensive inside line into Copse. Glancing in the mirror I saw that the following cars were about 10 yards behind and there was no need to worry about the as we approached Becketts.
The slick tyred Caterhams were much quicker round the right hander, and pulled away from me, but by the time we arrived at Brooklands the sheer horsepower of the car had dragged me right back up to them. Round Luffield, they yet again extended a lead, but towards the end of the pit straight I suddenly caught them again at a rate of knotts.
It was clear that we had very different types of cars, which ultimately gave the same lap time. This could be a very interesting race. On the third lap I concentrated on getting a good exit from Luffield and passed Richard Kershaws Caterham 7 just before the braking point for Copse. I nipped to the inside and secured the position, almost running into the back of Rory Stockbridge in the process. The next two laps were busy as I attempted to get past Rory. One lap we rounded Woodcote side by side with him on the inside. The next lap I passed him down the National Straight, but he retook the position under braking for Brooklands. Then we went through Woodcote side by side, this time with me on the inside. Rory was not one for giving up, and on the next lap drove right round the outside of me at Luffield in an attempt to retake the position.
By now we were already lapping the backmarkers, the first one came up on the very fast approach to Maggots and I lost some of the lead I had built. Less than half a lap later blue flags were being waved at me. I though, I'm not giving way, we are racing for position, before finally noticing a white Radical closing quickly and passing me on the startline. Wow, we were only on lap 7 and already the lead cars had lapped some cars twice, there really was too great a speed differential between the cars.
For the rest of the race the gap between Rory and myself ebbed and flowed, me with the greater straight line speed, him quicker round the tight bends, though not Copse. On lap 10 I was a little too hesitant with a back marker and he gained ground on me. With an excellent drive out of Luffield he stayed close to me and passed me under braking for Copse. It was too late, I had been caught napping on the last lap and so finished 10th on the road, just ahead of Richard Kershaw who had stayed with the battle. Slightly annoyed with myself I was at least gratified that I managed to set a faster lap time than both of the Caterhams, by just 0.08 second
Silverstone was a decent start to the season, the winter rust is nearly shaken off the driver, and the first outing of the new car resulted in a class win, was the fastest saloon car and fastest road tyred car.
Robert Pritchard enjoyed fighting his way up to 5th on the road, behind the three Radicals and a Mallock, so yet again was the fastest Caterham on track. David Hoyle finished in 19th and Helen Allen never even started the race for some reason.
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