2nd Round & 2nd in Class Championship

2 races. 2 hire cars. 2nd in Class

My second race report of the 2013 season from the Castle Combe Racing Club (CCRC) Saloon Car Championship in association with National Windscreens.

A lot has changed since the first Championship Round at Combe with the team from Grant Motorsport and I deciding to change plans and move away from our existing 1400cc Lupo build in favour of a nearly acquired 2004 Suzuki Ignis Sport 1500cc. Unfortunately even after a massive input from the team and a few others, we weren't going to be able to get the car out, competitively at least, for the second round. To the rescue came Paul Dolan and the team at Part-Box.com with their Time Attack/Nippon Challenge/Suzuki Cup Ignis Sport.

The little 'Iggy' was the perfect opportunity to assess what work has been undertaken and what we need to do for our build to be competitive this year. With is sorted chassis set-up, mildly lightened shell and slightly tuned to 116bhp, the Ignis wasn't going to set the world alight, but would get me out there for the second round, give me a good idea of the car's potential and at least be quicker than the MG ZR from the last round.

After my podium 3rd place in the first round I was required to carry 10kg of ballast for this race - so once we'd passed scrutineering it was off the weighing scales to get our base weight of 961kg (slightly heavier driver included!) then apply our 10kg ballast.

Qualifying

Once again the first time I'd get to drive the car was during qualifying and despite a slight delay (couldn't get my slightly larger backside into the harness), I joined the queue in the pitlane ready to start. With ambient temperature dramatically higher than the previous round, the extra heat from the circuit into the tyres would surely help and aid me in reducing my previous round lap times.

Immediately I could tell I would be quicker this time around as I was able to hit 4th gear - something the MG could barely achieve! However, due to it's gearing a lower power, it also meant I was hitting 4th gear midway between Quarry and the Esses giving me an extra gear change before the turn-in point. This wasn't a major issue but didn't add a little bit of time to every lap whilst the change into 4th right on the apex of Old Paddock didn't help the car stability!

Whilst I could turn-in as per my usual lines, the shorter wheelbase and lack of rear-end weight meant that the rear was very 'lively' and needed a fair amount of control to keep it in check, but this did mean I could exploit 4-wheel drifts into and out of the faster corners and at some points mid-chicane.

After 9 laps (with about 7 moving out of the way for the faster cars) I managed to put in 2 clear laps right at the end giving me a 1:26.596 and 1:26.551 (New Personal Best) which put me 25th on the grid of 31 drivers and 5th in Class (from 7). This lap was 1.8 seconds off the 4th in Class Peugeot 106 of Steve Sutton who qualified in 23rd overall but a long way off Class Pole Sitter Charlie Bird in his Fiesta Zetec with a 1:20.281 who started 17th overall!

Qualifying Lap Time: 1:26.551 (PB)
Overall Qualifying Position: 25th
Class Qualifying Position: 5th

The Race

For the race I would be starting alongside the Class B Ford Focus of Terry Thorne with the Class C Citroen C2 VTS of Lewis Penney behind. After an adjustment to the tyre pressures to compensate for the hotter track and ambient temperatures and increase in laps, I was hopeful for a good battle with Lewis and Terry but knew that unless something happened in front with the other Class D cars, 6th in Class would be the most realistic target. The lack of straight line speed being the biggest loss throughout the race.

My start wasn't the best and got too much wheelspin which I really didn't want as I needed to maximise the torque from the engine early on before being caught by the chasing pack behind. Team mate Dave Scaramanga who had a little 'incident' on the outlap was starting from the back of the grid and came alongside right on the turn-in/apex of Folly. With me sandwiched between him and Lewis in his C2 it was a close call, but I managed to give him and his Grant Motorsport-prepared VW Bora 1.8T enough room to literally squeeze by.

As expected, the cars behind swamped me on the way up to Avon Rise and Terry Thorne, Paul Ashton and Russell Poynter-Brown (1st Round Class D Winner) had a coming together just after Folly sending Russell shooting off the circuit into the tyres. Luckily all were OK but the Corsa took a fair shunt and was out of the race.

Once again my speed through the corners was better than the straights and I was able to overtake Lewis in his C2 on the exit of Quarry before he had a run up the outside on the entry to the Esses. With the nimble corner speed of the little Ignis, I was able to overtake him again on the outside of the exit of the Esses and begin hustling the Ford Fiesta ST of David Harries. Speaking of which, David has a little 'moment' on cold tyres on the apex of Tower which I duly replicated losing a bit of time to the chasing Lewis but was able to hold position through Bobbies and into Camp.

By lap two the little trio of David (Fiesta ST), myself and Lewis (C2 VTS) were rapidly catching a struglling Malcolm Webster in his Seat Leon Cupra with David overtaking on the run up to Camp whilst I slid past on the apex of Camp. The reduced speed to ensure a safer, controlled overtake however gave Lewis the run on me on the exit of Camp as he passed us both on the Pit Straight. No matter, we were fighting over race position rather than Class. I was able to catch Lewis up on the corners, but the VTS' straight line speed kept me far enough at bay.

At arounf lap 7 I encountered a massive loss of rear-end-traction. Turns out the rear tyre pressures got too high and therefore I lost a dramatic amount of grip. This resulted in a huge 'drift' literally the entire length of the corner with the front wheels skating across the inside curbs. I caught it and carried on but for the next laps I was more cautious through the corners as the rear had become overly lively and was losing traction through every corner.

On the next lap, Mark Wyatt (Race Leader) approached on the run up to Tower with Geoff Wade looking to take my position in his Honda Integra Type-R. During the short straight to Bobbies I kept the racing line but backed off and planned a late turn-in to the chicane giving Mark and his extremely rapid Astra the opportunity to pass easily. Whether I misjudged the distance, but it was getting overly late to turn-in when I first heard, then spotted Mark locked-up and heading towards rapidly! To avoid incident I floored the throttle and turned-in (the escape road wasn't an option - only a tyre wall). As it happened Geoff Wade did exactly the same locking up in unison with Mark! Both headed down the escape road unscathed as we proceeded as normal. The last thing I'd want to do is get in the way of the leader after all!

Mark quickly caught up and was back with me for Camp, so knowing Mark's overtaking from the 1st round, I wasn't messing around and kept to the outside of Camp to give him the inside line to shoot past. Obviously more cautious this time, Mark backed-off whilst I stayed to the outside, on the colder marbles I lost rear traction once again and ended up sliding round Camp... good for the camera's I'm sure (wink wink to Powervamp's Ed Roller there!)

With two laps to go and Mark finally past me, I had to keep a look out for the other front-runners. I had enough of a gap over Peter Weston in his MGZR in a Class 5th, but was too far away from Steve's 106 in Class 3rd so just had to run my race and bring the car home. Having just decided that was my plan of action, I powered down too early for the rear tyres on the exit of Quarry and felt the rear step away - this time far too rapidly for me to collect. Shooting across towards the infield, the ever pressing Geoff Wade managed to avoid me to take track position whilst I guided the car around in a full 360 spin just off the circuit, selected 1st and carried on my merry way.

Finally I crossed the line having backed-off for the remaining lap and a half finishing 23rd overall and 4th in class. OK so not a trophy, but it does mean I lose my 10kg of success ballast for the next race on Bank Holiday Monday 27th May - hopefully this time in my own little Iggy?

Oh and to polish the weekend, Russell's non-finish promotes Steve Sutton to the top of the Class Championship with 17 points whilst I'm promoted to 2nd in Class with 15 points. That's joint 4th overall shared with my other team mate Angus Gorridge and his VW Polo GTi from Class A! I must stress a massive shout out to the guys at Grant Motorsport and Part-Box.com - without them, once again I wouldn't have made the 2nd round!

Fastest Lap Time: 1:26.963
Overall Race Position: 23rd
Class Race Position: 4th

Published on Tuesday, May 07, 2013 by Antony Weeks

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