NSSCC Race Report Knockhill 24th April 2005
Car - 944 Turbo
The 2005 NSSCC Championship kicked off in Scotland this year, and most surprisingly the hill Knockhill itself was actually visible and not subsumed in cloud. The meeting took the usual Scottish format with Saturday afternoon testing and racing on Sunday. I had changed the springs on the car, but having lost the opportunity to do the NSSCC test day on 8th April I had no idea what damper settings I would need, still that's what testing is for. In the event I guessed about right and before long was matching my times from last year, but in a car I felt more comfortable with. Driving round the circuit was fine, but I was having some gear selection problems driving around the paddock. I couldn't find anything wrong so simply left the car for practice the next day. The test session was brought to an end anyway when Steven Ferguson lost his brakes coming into Taylors. He took to the grass, launched into the air over the kerbs, and promptly landed on top of a Caterham with a driver in his first event. Rescue crews spent almost 90 minutes trying to extricate the driver from the remains of the car. Fortunately his injuries were restricted to a broken leg.
Qualifying the next day was interesting a Andrew Morrisson and I played a cat and mouse game taking turns to follow each other, in search of a quicker lap and learning where our relative strengths were. He won the battle and took pole, with me just 0.5 seconds behind in second. Knockhill is a hard braking circuit and the brake discs had taken sufficient punishment and had started to warp. I knew this would compromise my race pace a little.
It was going to be a straight drag race to Duffus, and I should have the had the advantage being rear wheel drive. The problem would be that I would probably have to drive round the outside of Andrew at Duffus. The red lights went out and I reacted slightly quicker. Andrew however seemed to have better acceleration as I had fewer revs than I needed and the car bogged down a being off boost. Andrew got well over a car length on me but then the turbo cut in and by the time we got to the corner I was carrying more speed, but was slightly behind and on the outside. Time to tuck in behind and prevent Simon Blanckley nipping through. For the next half a lap Andrews driving was incredible. I knew my tyres were not up to temperature and took the usual level of caution. Andrew however was right on it and had decided to build a lead from the first corner. He succeeded. From the apex of every corner he simply pulled 3-4 yards out on me, particularly when he launched the MG through Glenvarigill.
I was getting some unwelcome attention from Simon Blanckley, and with half a lap of heat in the tyres decided I needed to push to keep Andrew in sight. With memories of last years "touring car exit/" from Clarke I carried a little more speed into the corner and turned in, and was promptly rewarded by the back end stepping out. I caught the car, but this gave Simon the opportunity to make an attempt for second. He wasn't close enough, and all I had succeeded in doing was giving Andrew an extra few yards lead. I pushed as hard as I felt the tyres would take it but he was still able to eek out a little more of a lead every lap. That was it really, save for some changes in the gap as we lapped traffic later in the race Andrew had the lead and I was in a secure second. One of the benefits of the SMART timing is that they do a post race statistical lap analysis and award a consistency factor. I found it interesting that I was second most consistent in qualifying and the most consistent driver in the race. Analysis also showed that Andrew Morrissons fastest lap was lap 3, while mine was on lap 16. I think that says a lot about the tyres we are using, and that the compromise I was making on pressures could be improved. Still, second overall was a good start to the championship.
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