Our stated goal for the 2018 MR2 Championship season was to achieve a top ten finish. This might not sound much but the competition amongst the front runners is so strong that from my perspective it seemed like climbing Everest. My best finish this year so far had been an 8th place at Cadwell but it wasn’t achieved with the whole grid on track at the same time so Snetterton was going to be my last opportunity in 2018 to hit the mark.
Last month I decided to sit out 2 races at Castle Combe that had been shoe-horned into the calendar to replace the lost rounds at Donington at the beginning of the year. I raced there in 2017 and considered it to be a high risk circuit with very little run off. I reckoned 40 plus MR2s barreling into the first corner would be a recipe for disaster. The following footage proved the point;
Instead I went to Snetterton for some further top class instruction with Malcolm Edison. It was an eventful day with a fellow MR2 racer, Dawn Tunbridge suffering a catastrophic engine failure that set the car on fire. It took 3 marshals to put the flames out but fortunately Dawn escaped unscathed.
My day went somewhat smoother and on my first solo session in the afternoon I put in consistent 2:21 lap times which would have been good enough to put me 6th on the grid from last year’s timings. Malcolm’s instruction is second to none and I know it is his expert tuition that has made the difference for me this year.
For the race weekend we decided to enter the 45 minute Roadsports event on the Saturday which I find is a great way to settle into the car under race conditions. However there was torrential rain throughout the entire race making conditions extremely treacherous but it was invaluable experience racing in the wet. I had one spin coming out of Hamilton which fortunately ended up being uneventful. The safety car was deployed for further victims of the conditions and the race was eventually red flagged after 40 minutes with several cars going into the barrier at Oggies. Despite gaining a 15 second success penalty (awarded after winning our class at Cadwell), we managed to get onto the top step of the podium, a very pleasing end to a challenging race. In addition we finished 24th out of 40 cars which was a commendable result given we were in the lowest power to weight ratio category of the race.
The following day was dry but the track was wet and greasy in the morning as we headed out for the MR2 Championship qualifying session. I had deliberately arrived at the assembly early to ensure I was out on track at the front to give me space for a good lap time and it paid off – I managed to qualify in 8th place out of 32 cars which gave us a fighting chance to finish in the top ten.
Race 1 didn’t quite go to plan. I lost several places on the first lap partly down to race craft (my inexperience mixing it with the top 10 racers showed at times) as well as a technical problem of difficulty changing gear from 2nd to 3rd. I had finished 11th which was a great disappointment but as we were on the way to prize giving I learnt that a competitor had been disqualified for being 8kg underweight elevating me to 10th. Result! In addition I had achieved a lap time that put me 7th on the grid for Race 2.
There was nothing we could do about the gearbox issues; Dave was confident the problem was internal to the box. I had to adapt my gear change being careful to take a little more time to ensure it slotted into place. It worked! Despite dropping to 9th at one stage I managed to hold off a charging Tom Mallings to finish 8th. In addition I smashed my best lap time by a second, dropping into 2:20s. What a fantastic way to end the last race of the Championship – mission well and truly accomplished!
Huge thanks to Dave DJ Jacobs of www.VehicleRepairs2u.co.uk for the excellent support and encouragement over the weekend. Due to work commitments he drove himself all the way to Snetterton and back at his own expense. What a superb VR2U Racing team mate and friend.
Looking ahead to 2019 it’s more of the same but hopefully with improving results. A podium is a bit too much to realistically consider at the moment but a top 5 finish would be great! I am building a new engine for the next year as I write (photo at the top of the page) and I am optimistic I can get a decent gearbox sorted to bolt on! Bring it on………….