NSSCC Race Report Croft 16th May 2004
Car - 944 Turbo
Practice was held on the Saturday when I was at Silverstone in the 924GT, so no qualification and I had to start at the back of the grid. I was not the only one as both David Cox and John Martinson had problems in practice and were with me at the back.
One of the more interesting dimensions to the race was going to be the rebuilt front dampers that I had fitted. No testing had been done, I didn't know how they would work or what the settings were relative to how the car had been running so I simply had to guess some settings and go to the grid. Not ideal, would I guess right ?
Some sensible discussions in the collecting area before the race, both between the three faster drivers and some of the novice drivers. My intention was simply to get round to the chicane as sensibly as possible and then start to really chase the other cars The question was how close to the front could I get ?
On the row in front Martinson was on the right and David Cox on the left. Red lights were extinguished and we set off, I chose to follow David Cox through the centre of the grid. This worked well, but Martinson had also gone to the centre (not what he had said !) which left a gap on the right. I slotted into the gap and took another couple of places when I had to brake sharply. Martinson had simply misjudged the length of his Clio, chopped the nose off Dan Jones in his Rover 216 and spun himself round so that he was across the track in front of me.
The brakes of the 944 were up to the job and we avoided contact, but I dropped back again so could make no further progress before the Chicane as I followed James Wilson in his Polo. I passed another 3 cars on the run to Tower, including Coxy, and on the run to Sunny nicked another places from Les Cowburn. Another place was taken on the run up to The Complex and two more as I passed the startline. I was now up to about 12th place.
The field had spread out a bit by now and next was Andy Wilson. He was dispensed with under braking for Tower though we went through side by side. Nigel Vaulkhard and Terry Wright were passed under braking for The Complex and that was it for lap 2. Darren Flounders was the next car but as you get to the front of the field the passes get more difficult and the gaps greater as they have had more time at full speed. Again The Complex was my friend and after the hairpin I almost had enough speed to pass Graham Saul in his blue Renault Syder. I made a few tentative efforts on the straight but he took the inside line for Tower and defended well. Never mind, I could wait for The Complex....which is where I passed him. In front of his was Kingsley Ingram in his silver Spyder. Kingsley was really pushing it and was on the limit so I waited for The Complex and passed him there. Is this getting boring ?
Well it wasn't boring for me as kingsley obviously wanted his place back and launched his car down the inside for the left handler. Fortunately I saw him and gave room as he repassed me and fishtailed in front. never mind, the straightline speed of the 944 would tell down the straight, as it did. I could see Oliver Vaulkhard in front at Hawthorn and decided to push a little harder. I carried too much speed through the entry to Hawthorn and i sensed the back end go light. I applied a little opposite lock, but rapidly realised the situation was more serious and I would need full opposite lock and brakes to avoid a spin. The car rotated, but I controlled it and just kept it pointing in the right direction to be able to change down and set off again. Kingsley flashed past, I had it all to do again. After that mistake I wasn't going to make any more, but was also going to be firmer when passing. I caught and hassled Kingsley for the rest of the lap and drove past him at the start of the straight. He wasn't going to get a chance to retake the position as I lapped Helen Allen under braking for Clervaux. Now, where was Oliver? Still some way ahead, but with 1 1/2 clear laps I was on his tail. Through The Complex I closed right up on him to give me the chance to simply drive past him on the run down to Clervaux which I did.
That was it really for the race, the really quick guys were nowhere to be seen and after another 3 laps the race was over. Both Steven Ferguson and Ray Pollock had retired so I ended the race in third place, a fantastic result from the back of the grid. Other people had also noticed the drive and I was given the Carpet Online Driver of the Day award. Not only do you get the award you also get a very swanky watch too. Thanks therefore to both Heather and David Cox.
I have to say that the damper settings were not ideal. It was certainly too soft at the front end but not undrivable, more was to come from the car.
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