Anglesey Trac Mon; what a beautiful circuit. As you can see from the photos, the views are breathtaking almost to the point of being distracting! Combine that with warm, sunny weather and it would be hard to find a better race track. The drive there was equally beautiful, the A55 following the coast providing a memorable view of Colwyn Bay. Dave couldn’t make the race weekend due a prior commitment so I was accompanied by Sandy, my wife. She isn’t much use with the spanners but her cooking is fantastic and I appreciated the company. On the Saturday night Patrick Mortell, the MR2 Championship Organiser and owner of Rogue Motorsport provided a bar-b-que so we had the opportunity to get to know a few of the other drivers and their families.
So that was the good bit of the weekend. In terms of the racing…….. how shall I put it? Eventful is probably an understatement, and to top it all my truck’s generator packed in!
Qualifying on Saturday morning was the only part that went smoothly and I was placed 16th on the grid out of 27 cars some 2 seconds off the pace of the front runners. However, just 0.8 seconds faster would have put me in the top 10.
Race 1. Nearing the end of the first lap we were running through the ‘Corkscrew’, a technical series of tight bends that descend sharply. A competitor, Paul Cook, had been tapped by another car causing him to spin, ending up stranded across the track. I was hard on the heels of 2 other cars who hid the danger from me as we came around a blind, 90 degree, downhill, right handed bend. At the very last minute they veered either side of the stricken car and I had no time to avoid it. A big impact wrote off my front nose cone, right wing and pushed the front offside wheel back by about 3cm. The red flag came out but that was the end of my day anyway since the car wouldn’t drive in a straight line! You can see the damage to both my car and Paul Cook’s in the attached photos. Nigel Ralphson, two cars in front of me, also hit Paul Cook’s car and he too was unable to continue. The good news was that I received a great deal of support from a chap called Andy who was supporting another driver, as well as Andy Waters, a professional race mechanic. Between us we managed to get the car ready for the next day’s racing using tie wraps, red gaffer tape and a few new suspension components. The in car video on this website is well worth a watch.
Race 2. Having not completed a lap on Race 1, I started 26th out of 27 cars, right at the back of the grid along with Paul Cook and Nigel Ralphson. It was my first drive after the crash and the car wasn’t right; it was understeering and I couldn’t change between 2nd and 3rd gear which are essential in the MR2 for this circuit. However I somehow managed to finish 18th but was 0.1 seconds slower than qualifying.
Race 3. A bit of spannering later and we had sorted out the set up to make the back end a bit softer, hoping to dial out the understeer. In addition the gear change problem turned out to be the gear linkage that had worked its way loose, presumably from the impact on Race 1. Starting on the 9th row of the grid I had a good first lap making up 2 places, sneaking past Tim Allen, who had finished 4th at Silverstone in Race 2. However, under the ensuing relentless pressure from him as well as a more tail happy car, I made a mistake coming out of Rocket on the second lap and went off the circuit, ending in a spin on the grass, right in front of my wife; how humiliating! Back to last place. Some determined chasing saw me finish 18th (again!) but I was nearly a second slower than in qualifying.
In summary it was a tough weekend, although a valuable one in terms of lesson’s learnt. I missed the support of fellow VR2U Racing teammate Dave, the irony being this was the very time his expert mechanical skills were required. Still, as they say, ‘that’s racing’!
It’s full on with the car repairs because the next 2 races, which are at our local circuit Cadwell Park, are at the end of this month and there isn’t much time left. I have bought another MR2 to rob it for spare parts which is far more economical than buying individual bits; this motor racing is all consuming but it is great fun!