Come Rain or Shine. . .

Posted by Nathan Ward on October 4, 2010 at 6:40 AM

The final round of the Castle Combe FF1600 championship started early on a very wet Saturday morning. Being the second session on track there was a very slight drying line forming but this also meant that overtaking during qualifying was going to be very difficult. I managed to get towards the front of the queue in the assembly area, meaning that I would have a lap or two free from traffic at the start of the session.

After waiting for the fog to lift and visibility to improve we were released onto the circuit. I quickly adapted to the ever changing conditions and started pushing hard, trying to find the limit. On lap 7, whilst down in 12th position I came into Camp corner too fast and ran out of track on the exit. The back end of the car broke away and quickly put me into a 360° spin. I crossed the start/finish timing strip backwards and set a time which moved me up to 8th position!

With the rain stopped and the track drying all the time it was clear that the fastest times would come on the last lap and I managed to post a fast final lap which promoted me to 5th position overall (3rd in class).

The weather stayed dry but cool for the rest of the day so although the track was fully dry in time for the race, there was very little rubber down on the circuit when we took to the grid for the main event.

After a speedy rolling up lap, I took my place on the inside of the circuit and waited for the lights. After what seemed like an eternity, the lights went out and I was able to get a very good start. I managed to secure the inside line for the first corner at Quarry and maintain position through the first lap.

On the run up to Quarry at the start of the second lap is when all the action started. A huge accident between the cars in second and third place meant that the whole field had to take evasive action. Although I managed to avoid the accident and the other cars I was unable to manoeuvre around a loose suspension arm. I hit the wishbone at high speed and it bent my nose box in and then flew up and over the cockpit. No time for worry though as the race was still on.

However the race officials decided that the cars were in a dangerous place and so the safety car was deployed for 4 laps. Once the drivers were assessed by the medical crew and the cars were recovered to safety we could continue.

The restart was action packed as yet again the pack was tightly bunched. I lost one position on the run up to the first corner but I was now aware that I was the leader of class B and the passing driver was not in my class. I settled in 5th place and was battling hard with another car for the remainder of the race. We were trading positions every lap but I was able to hold on to the chequered flag.

Fifth place overall and first in class was enough to earn my first ride on the winners car. After a brisk drive around the circuit to wave to the fans, I was interviewed and asked to pose for a photograph on the podium.

This was by far the best day of car racing that I have ever had and I would like to thank everybody who has made this possible. My parents and family who have enabled me to race over the years, Gary Cann and all at Swift Cooper who have made this year possible and everybody who has supported me throughout my racing.

I am now looking forward to the final event of the year: The Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone. This is the largest and most competitive Formula Ford event in the world and I am now entering for the second year, having missed out on a place in the Grand Final by only 1 point last year.

If anybody is interested in attending this event at the home of British motorsport then please contact me and I can arrange for passes and more information.


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