NSSCC Race Report Cadwell Park 10th July 2005
Car - 944 Turbo
We arrived at Cadwell Park for Saturday afternoon pre race testing with new springs front & rear, but no fuel. We had intended to get some Optimax on the way to the circuit, but had not passed a Shell station and after touring Louth had to settle for some alternative fuel. I was concerned that I would have to test with lower boost due to reduced octane. Upon arrival at the circuit we met Darren Flounders who kindly let me use his Optimax for the day, an overnight trip to Grimsby looked likely to gather replacement. After testing I was speaking to a local spectator who told be about a Shell station in nearby Horncastle in the process saving me a 60 mile round trip. Well worth remembering.
Back to the testing. I took the car onto the circuit, feeling fairly apprehensive about yet another untested setup, at a challenging narrow circuit. Within the first lap I began to feel very comfortable with the car. There was no hint of understeer, oversteer or any vice at all. I completed all three sessions, changing pads & discs before the final session which yielded another lap time improvement. We left for the evening, feeling relaxed about the car and the circuit and looking forward to the next day.
Qualifying took place at 10'o clock, though with the good weather the temperature had already risen to the point where driving the car was going to be a very hot process. I was quite relaxed throughout the qualifying session. My only goal was to set a reasonable lap time and continue to become familiar with the new handling abilities of the car. I was initially quick, but waited for a few laps before starting to push. After initially passing Andrew Varey, he caught me so I let him, and Tony Caig past, before allowing a gap to develop & giving chase. The tactic worked, I passed Andrew again and matched Tony Caigs pace, almost seeming to catch him. That was good enough for me. If I was on his pace then a decent grid position would follow. My time was two seconds faster than the previous day and I knew that more time would easily come as I felt the car was capable of more pace than I was asking it to do. The time of 1:43 was fast enough for 5th, just behind Tony on the grid, who must have sneaked a faster lap in when I wasn't looking.
Last time NSSCC was at Cadwell Park there was a startline incident caused by a starting light malfunction. The 2 x 2 grid is so very tight at Cadwell and I was happy to be on the grass side, with fast starting Stephen Ferguson in front of me and an escape route if he stalled.
We got away cleanly and I outdragged Simon Blanckley to the first corner and followed the leaders up the hill. Tony Caig was not far in front and I closed up on him at Park and began to think about finding a \way through. All such thoughts came to a stop when I saw the red flags. There had been a midfield fracas at the first corner, apparently initially involving Andrew Varey and John Parton, but as John rotated across the track there was a domino effect and the incident ended up involving at least Terry Wright, Paul Moss, Paul Swift, Mick Starkey and Les Cowburn, most of which failed to make the restart.
After a 15 minute period during which the track was cleared we all got out of our cars and sunbathed in our 3 layer Nomex racing suits, before the restart. After another green flag lap I determined that i would try and make a place up at he start and tried to get a better start. It didn't work. Simon Blanckley got a much better start and I was almost overtaken by Darren Flounders. These 944 turbos are so fickle. They either bog down, off boost, or come on boost in a flurry of wheelspin.
I hadn't done a very good job of getting heat into the tyres and I suffered from understeer for the first lap. That gave the leaders and Simon a chance to break away and I had lost over 5 seconds on the first lap. The second lap showed a stabilisation of the position, but as I went into the woods I kept thinking "tenths, tenths" knowing that a tenth on every corner would be a one and a half seconds per lap. It seemed to work as I rapidly closed on Simon. A good exit from Charlies set me up to close along the straight into Park. I did close rapidly, and as we went over the blind crest saw an opportunity to slide to the inside and execute a classical outbraking manoeuvre into the bend. It worked and by the time we were at the Goose Neck he was despatched and I started to pull away. Even by such an early stage the top four had extended a lead which I could not make any impact on so I simply enjoyed the remainder of the race which was uneventful apart from a couple of competitors I had to lap. Poor Simon did not even finish the race as his gear lever broke away in his hand. Tough luck, considering the work that he & David Ferguson put in fixing a leaking gearbox seal on Saturday.
I left the circuit on Sunday evening, after having a very enjoyable and stress free racing weekend. There have been rather too few of those over the past couple of years. I'm looking forward to Oulton Park, though the grid may be smaller than usual.
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