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Brands Hatch GP Circuit
Once I had put the XK 140 back into the Dastle Racebox after a successful day with Mark Hales at Goodwood, I made a call to Mel Floyd (CKL Developments) who said that they were on their way with the CKL Transporter to Brands Hatch and that they would be there as of Thursday evening to set up their three cars and if I wanted, I could set up with them in the Outer Paddock.

This was to be an interesting foray across 80 miles of countryside with 28ªC and no Air Con working in the Range Rover (Tow Truck) and during the Rush-Hour (or three!!)

On arrival, Mel and the CKL boys helped to decant my Rig and set up for the weekend. We were certainly in for some glorious summer weather, which meant a dry Quali and a dry race (Fingers crossed).

My Dastle has now been carpeted throughout so it doubles as a one bedroom hotel if no other accommodation is available. It certainly was my `Room for the Night` on Thursday until Steve, my Mazda MX5 race driver friend arrived on Friday night. But a man only needs a camp bed, a toaster and a kettle for pots and pots of tea doesn`t he?

We were going to be out in `Quali One` on the Sunday morning but I thought I would check to see whether we could sign on and `Undergo` Scrutineering prior to?? It so happened that I signed on at the Paddock Office on Saturday morning and Dear Chris who was Chief Scrutineer, squeezed me in soon after midday. Therefore, there would be nothing other than the obligatory Briefing on Sunday morning to prefer, other than tyre pressures.

QUALIFYING

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and Mel, Steve and I headed to the Assembly Area with our spares comprising, spare wheel, jack, Pit Board and assorted `Skid Lids` and regalia.

This weekend I would be wearing my newly designed and painted Arai Crash Helmet and brand new matching OMP Race Suit with red piping to match the MWS Decal `Flash`. Very twee, I can assure you!

Qualifying went reasonably well, but not the best as the car was slipping and sliding on most of the corners. The best lap time we could get under these conditions was only a 2:04:58.

Analysing the symptoms and taking the necessary tyre pressures, we realised that the nearside rear was reading 41.2 psig, with 38 psig on the n/s front and o/s rear, with a very `Normal` 35 psig for the o/s front (The least worked of all the tyres). A decision was taken to reduce the n/s rear by 2 psig, the other two by 1 psig and the o/s front by zero.

THE RACE

The race itself was, for me, exquisite. However, it was a `Rolling Start`. I actually haven`t done a `Roller` at Brands before and I forgot that the Start & Finish Line was at the end of the straight. So, good old JDR romped off and overtook about four cars before I realised the error of my ways.

I put my hand out of the window and duly waived the Overtakees on, but that also included another 2 or 3 cars who also took advantage of some poor old guy who had got his lines crossed.

Talk about cross, I was fuming for making such an idiotic schoolboy error. I wouldn`t say that I then suffered from Red Mist Syndrome, but I was certainly DETERMINED to recover from the errors of the initial lap, as you will see from the in-car video footage in this article!!!

It also appeared that the tyre pressure adjustments that we made post practice had certainly given me more grip. Not to mention some of the tips that Mark Hales had given me at Goodwood regarding the use of the gearbox as and when, and the use of my Drum Brakes. By the time I was half way through my stint at the wheel before handing over to Melvin, I was going into Hawthorns Corner without braking and maximising my Gearbox change-downs to effectively brake the car.

The net effect of my Modified G/Box and Braking techniques improved my lap times by nearly a second when I recorded a personal best of 2:03.80.

NOTE: Thanks once more to Mr Mark Hales. I`m sure he will be getting a call!!

After 25 minutes at the wheel, I came into the Pits for the obligatory driver change. This was very slow and there is certainly room for improvement here.

But Mel was off and running and had a good race up until the last corner, Clearways and Clarke Curve, when Mel must have had the fright of his life when the nearside rear Half Shaft snapped, spinning him around into the Kitty Litter, I mean the gravel trap AND, on the last lap. This had the effect, of the rear wheel flying off and ripping the rear wing off and stripping the tyre and writing off a Lightweight Wire Wheel, and the Kitty Litter ripping off the LHS Exhaust System.

DARN IT!!!

It was a disappointing end to what had been a rapidly improving `Day-At-The-Races`. At least it happened at the end of the race, where we both had a goodly time at the wheel, despite the possible costs of rebuilt mechanicals and body parts yet to be discussed.

POST RACE ANALYSIS

Pit stops in hot weather and switching off the engine is not necessarily a good idea. Our change-over took 55 seconds, (NOTE: Our best is 35 seconds) as the engine spluttered to life loosing valuable seconds. So it will be a front wheel chock next time on a piece of rope and no hand brake for obvious reasons of ceasing on.

We need to be faster off the mark and for the initial change-over laps, so that minimal time is lost while the brain gets up to speed.

We had a very difficult time loading a car with only three wheels back into my Dastle Racebox, notwithstanding the mess it`s made to the carpet. Oh well, out with the vacuum cleaner and Stain Remover before I can once again call my trailer home HA HA!! I shouldn`t laugh really, but time takes the sting out of the disappointment. Now we can look forward to our next event which will be at:

The Silverstone Classic on the 19th to the 22nd July

Will we see you there? I hope so!!

John D R


NOTE: Action photography taken by John Retter, of www.johnretterphotography.com
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