Having made the decision to withdraw from the MR2 Championship after my untimely meeting with a crash barrier at Silverstone, I felt a great sense of relief and excitement about racing in Roadsports.
Sponsored by TEGIWA, Roadsports is a mini-endurance series for production sports and saloon cars. It is designed to offer competitors a great deal of freedom in tuning a performance sports or saloon car, whilst at the same time providing a framework to ensure the racing remains cost effective. Races are 45 minutes plus 1 lap with a compulsory pit stop, and optional driver / car change. Qualifying is a 25 minute session.
Pit stops may be taken between the 15th minute and 30th minute of the race duration. During the pit stop the car must remain stationary for a minimum of one minute – refuelling is not permitted.
There are 4 classes: A – Super GT – 300bhp/tonne, B – GT – 240bhp/tonne, C – Supersport – 180bhp/tonne and D – Sport – 145bhp/tonne. The MR2 weighs about 1100kg without driver and has a nominal 176bhp, putting it into the lower end of Class C. To that end I added ballast in the form of two steel bars weighing a total of 90kg! This dropped the car to the top end of Class D and made it far more competitive. However, the fuel load needed to be calculated very accurately for the race since it was possible to end up too light; if a podium finish was achieved, the car was inevitably weighed and offending drivers disqualified! I had to finish with a minimum weight of 1214kg, excluding my own body weight.
Qualifying went well, gaining 21st out of 40 cars. Most importantly I was the fastest in class D with a Vauxhall Nova Hot Hatch driven by Pip Hammond and Alex Hall only 0.37 seconds behind, so the fight was on. It had rained prior to the race so the track was wet and greasy; not my favourite conditions. The start was uneventful but it wasn’t long before a safety car was deployed and this allowed the Nova to close the gap I had made. Unfortunately on the recommencement of racing, I couldn’t quickly select 3rd gear and the Nova got through. A few laps of chasing and I finally managed to get past and went in for the mandatory 1 minute pitstop.
Back out on track I was caught behind a Class C BMW 328i driven by Jeff and Lee Piercey. The car was frustratingly quick down the straight but slow round the corners. I managed to pass a couple of times but was overhauled on the straights; all the time this was going on the Nova was catching fast. I had to get past and stay in front of the BMW! Finally I managed to make a move up the inside at Tower and at last there was the opportunity to get some space between myself and the Nova. This was maintained all the way to the chequered flag with only 1 second separating me from the Nova.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable race; good clean driving and it encapsulated all the reasons why I compete in this sport. The event was streamed live and given the close battle we had in Class D, the cameras concentrated on us for the last 15 minutes or so of the race which was great fun to watch after the event.