So this was the first outing of the year for me in the Westie. It had been a long wait as I didn’t do too much to do to the car over the winter (or have the budget) and so it just sat in the garage gathering dust. What little work that was done to the car was a tad stressful. I dropped the car at my local motorsport garage a few weeks back, but only got it back on the Thursday night. The mechanic had a two-day race meeting over the intervening weekend and his wallet, cash and some tools were robbed from the cab of the lorry (which was parked in the paddock at Snett). This meant he was understandably delayed in finishing the works on the car as he had to cancel his cards etc. When I got it back, I worked on the car until 10pm on the Thursday, again on the Friday night and on the Saturday morning. Tiring, but finally I was ready to go.
The journey to West Wales to race with the Welsh Sports and Saloon Car Championship was broken up with lunch in the sun. My wife and I, along with 4 other friends stayed at a hotel near to the circuit. The place was a little tired to say the least with some quite frankly, hilariously Trip Advisor reviews. Maybe I should have read the reviews before checking-in….. Nonetheless, I got a reasonable night’s sleep. A rarity for me before a race (see my previous Blogs). I got up at 5.50am, had a quick breakfast and my mate and I set off to the circuit, arriving at 6.50am. It was a bright morning and I was looking forward to racing at Pembrey in the dry for the first time.
After sign-on and an uneventful scrutineering, I set up camp in Pembrey’s inner paddock. Qualifying was at 9.00am and I had to be in the assembly area 20-minutes before. Not a huge amount of time to get ready so it was all go.
Sitting in the assembly area I was a little apprehensive as I have not driven the car at all since the previous September, except only for giving it a run down the road to bed in the new rear pads. As expected, I was properly rusty. Qualifying was over in a blur and my driving was annoyingly inconsistent. Still, that was to be expected without testing/practice so I dwelled on the positives (what few there were!). I posted a 1.08, which was a second quicker than my dry qualifying time of the previous August. I was happy with that, 11th out of 20.
The first race was after lunch so it was a bit of a wait. We had to wait longer than expected as the trucks were racing and doing a great job of smashing each other to bits and generally making a lot of noise / vibrating the ground under your feet. I was on the inside line for the first hairpin and I intended to stay there. Indeed I did and I managed to get an ok start, hampered by the car in front obscuring the lights at the precise moment they went out. Lesson learnt. Despite this, I managed to get the jump on one car, although I was a little worried at one point as I momentarily had two wheels on the grass. Still, plenty of grip!
I followed the pack round the hairpin and then lined a car up a car for a pass on the rear straight. I was drafting him as we went through the fast kink, mid-‘straight’, only for him to get a massive tank slapper, presumably on cold rears. He span in front of me and by backing out of the throttle a little – I didn’t know which way he was going to go I managed to avoid him, much to the relief of my Wife who was watching. Thankfully he also missed the tyre wall/bank and was able to carry on. Just as I was getting the bit between my teeth, the race was red flagged as a car had broken a wishbone at the hairpin and had to be recovered. Damn. I now had to do it all again. The restart meant a 10 minute race +1 lap, instead of the usual 15 +1 lap. I had a good re-start and managed to gain a place, only to be out-braked coming in to the hairpin, spending the rest of the race on my own from thereafter. I used the time to perfect (well I tried anyway) my lap and posted a 1.07.6, finishing in 9th.
The second race was over in such a blur I can only remember overtaking two cars, both by out-breaking them into Honda. I bettered my lap time with a 1.07.3 and finished 7th overall. I was pleased with that and more importantly I was now lapping much more consistently. Cobweb’s well and truly blown away!
A good time was had by all and most importantly the car and I were in one piece. Next I’m off to Silverstone with the CSCC on the 28th of May. I can’t wait to get out there again.
Race 1 Re-start:
On the grass: