Knockhill Sprint Sept 2019-09-09
Well I am back from a most amazing weekend in sunny Scotland having attended the 2 day sprint. It seemed like everything that could happen did happen and it turned out to be a great weekend of motorsport with 8 Westfields plus the class J cars taking part in the sprints alongside the usual Super Lap Scotland competition. It was originally Mark Anson’s idea to go to Knockhill (it has been many years since we were last there) and my discussions with Steve Arkley and his knowledge and contacts at the circuit made it all possible. An added bonus was that there were a lot of spectators on Sunday as well as some of the Scottish Westfield crowd in attendance. For the five Yorkshire area competitors it was a 500 mile round trip, Two travelled around 600 miles and Steve Arkley was a “local” who just had a 3 hour trip each way. We all arrived on Friday afternoon to enjoy watching a bit of the car trackday followed by 2 hours of watching the bike lunatics on track pulling wheelies and ballistic speed down the pit straight.
The scenery was great too as we could look down across the Firth of Forth and see the new and old Forth Road bridges as well as the Rail Bridge with Edinburgh in the background. The weather was sunny all weekend and we even saw a shooting star on Friday night.
Friday scrutineering was a piece of cake with friendly people doing it as well as the noise test.
Signing on took place Saturday morning and was completed in just 15 minutes followed by a briefing at 0815 and we were on track for P1 at 0830 hours. We had walked the anti clockwise track on Friday night, with Steve Arkley pointing out the lines to take as well as the trying to point out where the hell the track went on the blind brows etc. It was extremely hilly and looked like it would be quite a challenge. Quite a challenge became an understatement as in reality P1 became a blurred comedy of errors as we knocked down flapper posts and visited gravel traps in attempt to get to grips with the layout.
I took out 4 flapper posts as I tried to straight line the chicane, Matt Turner jumoed the red light at the start, Mark Anson ended up in the gravel as did Steve Everall. Simon Waterfall needed towing back as his engine cut out which he later cured as he found a loose terminal on his ignition system. I was not a great start and we began to wonder why on earth we had bothered. I had hardly had time for a cup of coffee ( after removing gravel from Steve’;s car) when we were out again for P2 at 0950hrs. John Hoyle had a bit of a brain fade a she did 3 laps instead of 2 and Mick Dent discovered a broken nearside diagonal on his chassis but was ok to run. In general we slowed it down a bit and tried to use more of the black stuff rather than the grass and gravel.
1145hrs saw us lining up for T1 and getting down to the real business of posting a good time as a banker. The start was very difficult as it was extremely narrow and inclined to the left as well as being downhill and then crossing a metal drainage channel. From memory we all stayed on track and I posted the fastest time very closely followed by Mat Turner and John Hoyle.
T2 was I bit more eventful as Simon Waterfall , at high speed, got it totally wrong at Clark’s corner near the small grandstand and tried a straight line across the grass followed by crossing the track at 90 degrees and entering the gravel trap but avoiding the tyre wall . back in the paddock we cleaned out the gravel (this was becoming a common theme) and he discovered he had lost the alternator belt so had to keep using a slave battery for starting all weekend. I think at one stage he thought it might hurt him physically as well as in his wallet. This time Matt put in the quickest time and Steve Arkley put in a good run using his local knowledge as well as the fact that he was also competing in the SLS event. The final T3 was held in between the top 12 runoffs and most people improved their times and came away with a smile on their face as we were all really pushing hard and loving the track and its technical challenge. It really was like a big dipper ride at Blackpool where you seem to be going too fast and the turns arrive too quickly. Quite an adrenalin rush and the most technically difficult track most of us have ever driven. In the end these were the times with John Hoyle showing us how quick his powerful car is down the straights even on ZZR tyres.
John Hoyle 101.68
Matt Turner 102.09
Terry Everall 102.56
Mick Dent 105.79
Steve Arkley 109.34
Simon Waterfall 112.05
Ian Davenport 114.98
Steve Everall 122.79
On Sunday we ran in a clockwise direction which was a shame as we had only just begun to master the Saturday circuit. It was supposed to be easier but it was still very tricky with the same challenges but in reverse. The start line was easier this time but after about 150 metres there was the fast blind right hander called Duffas Dip which was a bit scary to say the least and on the second lap we approached it flat out !!!!
In P1 Steve Everall appeared to still be asleep as he tried to put his helmet on and forgot he was still wearing a baseball cap. I got belted in and could not reach my gloves. We all had a pact to go slowly on this first run and not perform like we did yesterday. Luckily it worked. Steve Arkley did not bother with practice as he was on track with SLS again. There were a few stories of wild slides and problems with the hairpin at the start of the straight which was very slippy and provided little grip. As usual we exchanged track information and suggested the best lines and when to be on and off the gas. That’s what we do as we want everyone to go quicker and despite rivalry we genuinely give our advice to anyone who wants it. I just remembered that I helped soften off the suspension on Simon Watefall and Ian Davenports car in an attempt to make them faster.
T1 saw Ian Davenport taking Duffas dip too quickly and his excursion ripped off his front diffuser. Mick Dent also had an off but did not sustain any damage. Elsewhere Nick Algar lost all oil pressure on his DJ Firehawk and Mark Anson had gearchange problems. Later in the runoffs John Loudon also had an off and damaged something. On our last run Mick Dent appear to jump the red light and his run was not timed. John Hoyle once again pulled off a great final time and was quickest Westfield and only just beat Matt Turner. I would like to have been closer to them but my clutch was failing and I could not get the power down.
Times as follows:
John Hoyle 104.64
Matt Turner 104.78
Terry Everall 106.58
Mick Dent 110.72
Steve Arkley 112.57
Simon Waterfall 115.91
Ian Davenport 119.80
Steve Everall 127.29
So the question at the end of the day was “Do we want to go back” The easy answer was YES absolutely. Two great track layouts and well organised event so lets hope I can get it in the calendar for 2020.
Finally Steve blew a trailer tyre on the way home but managed to get back without changing it so that’s my vote for twin axle trailers