First ever DNF in the 5th Round at Combe

All in a day's racing for the 5th Round of the CCRC Championship

Another day of questionable weather. Another day of questionable set-up and another day with a shortened qualifying session. Welcome to Clubman racing.

Round 5 - Qualifying

It was an early qualifying session for this round and having left the car in its wet set-up following the previous days damp race, it was a bit of a rush to change back to an unexpected dry set-up in time for qualifying. Nevertheless we made it out with a few additional minor changes to tyre pressures and suspension stiffness to test what effects they had on the overall setup.

The track itself was nice and ‘green’ following the previous days rain which meant that pretty much everyone’s fastest times were being set on their later laps. I struggled to get the tyres up to temperature during the first couple of laps then had to make way for a few cars setting flying laps which ultimately hindered by progress but managed to get one clean lap of 1:22.920, (a second slower than the previous day but still maintaining 16th on the grid and 6th in class). But just as I finished that lap, the red flags came out due to a coolant spillage that left Folly extremely slippery and sent 3 championship cars off and even into the infield!

With a very wet race scheduled, I hoped that reverting to the wet setup would then enable me to maximise another good start to run nearer the front of the grid – especially as sponsors Powervamp Racing were in attendance! So what happened?

Qualifying Lap Time: 1:23.296
Overall Qualifying Position: 16th
Class Qualifying Position: 6th

Round 5 - The Race

My first major disappointment happened. Starting again in 16th I was familiar with my grid position and had my start mapped out nicely. It was just the wet conditions I was hoping for and gave me the perfect opportunity to utilise the LED Rain Light courtesy of Powervamp Racing so I was definitely up for this one! The lights went out, I dropped the clutch and the tachometer hardly moved. I was accelerating, but where had the turbo gone?

It was still a quick start, but I lost as many places as I gained moving up through Folly and towards Quarry. So on the entry to Quarry I stuck it down the inside, dodged a move from Anne King to block me on the apex and proceeded on the inside line towards the Esses whilst dodging cars as James Winter and Tony Dolley came together on the exit of Quarry (James is gladly OK – it wasn’t pretty to watch!)

At this point I noticed that the power drain seemed to be getting worse. What I hadn’t spotted was the rather large and dense plume of smoke exiting my exhaust pipes…

I’d made good ground through Quarry and the Esses but coming into Old Paddock Bend a quick glance in the mirrors brought me back down to earth as David Harries white Fiesta ST came ‘Days-of-Thunder’ style out of the smoke towards me at a fair rate of knots. Slowly moving over to the edge of the circuit, I limped the car back to the paddock to reveal a completely seized turbocharger.

So with sponsors in the attendance for the first time, I didn’t manage to complete a single lap and dropped a vital score from the Class A Championship. I’m still 8th in Class after essentially only 2 scores and 3 races but with even just 1 championship point I would have promoted myself to 7th or even 5th with 5 points.

But that’s racing and to finish first, you first have to finish. So now we know what went wrong, we can ensure it doesn’t happen again and have added a few more developments to the plan in preparation for the next round. So hopefully we can fight even further up the grid and take home some more championship points.

Fastest Lap Time: DNF
Overall Race Position: DNF
Class Race Position: DNF

Published on Tuesday, Jun 18, 2013 by Antony Weeks

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