|Posted by Nathan Ward on June 1, 2010 at 10:13 AM|
After having two test days in a row where I had improved on my personal best, the pressure was really on to translate this into a solid race performance.
The qualifying session was one of the most interesting that I have taken part in because in the previous session a car had dropped oil on the fastest corner of the circuit. This meant the affected area was covered with a layer of concrete dust, designed to absorb the oil.
Being only the 4th car on the circuit, I found myself in a 'smokescreen' unable to see my steering wheel let alone the car in front. Even though there were 37 cars in the session, it still took 2-3 laps for the circuit to become truly drivable. Unfortunately, by the time the track was clear enough to set a decent lap time, my engine was not running properly due to a couple of bent valves. This meant that both my acceleration and top speed were compromised.
To my surprise I was still able to secure 8th place on the grid (3rd in class).
Huge thanks must go to Gary Cann of Swift Cooper, who then spent the next 3 hours stripping and rebuilding the head of the engine, which removed the effect of the bent valves and meant I was able to start the race knowing that I would have a little extra pace in hand for the 12 lap sprint to the flag.
I was very aware that it was my best qualifying ever as soon as I lined up on the grid. The lights that I previously had to squint to see were larger than ever. After a unusually slow rolling up lap, the grid was ready for the start. The lights seemed to take an age to extinguish, but when they did I was ready for them and made a fantastic start. I leapt past two drivers off the start and was running beside another before deciding to tuck behind and defend into the first corner.
I was running in 6th place until an incident ahead of me took out two drivers and the safety car was deployed. This allowed time for the pack to regroup and 2 laps later when the incident was cleared, we were racing again. I soon found myself in a race long battle, with positions changing at least twice per lap. The moves were hard but ultimately fair which meant that we were not losing time and I managed to hold the position to the flag and finish just 2 seconds behind the battle for the lead.
Fourth place overall and second in class was not only the best result to date, but also promoted me to second place in the Class B Championship and fourth in the Overall Championship.
This race has to go down as my favourite so far due to the finishing position and close racing throughout, with an extra bonus of yet another personal best lap time just to make it perfect.
Roll on next month!