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The Club's First Racer! - Part 2 - First Race!

Race Day…  31st March 2012

I woke up at 5am with Andy from Veysport at the door, and my car on the back of the trailer, ready for the journey to South Wales. Several fuel stops to fill the jerry cans were needed due to the fuel shortages! We got to Pembrey nice and early ready for the car to be scrutinised prior to qualifying. Getting Andy’s support was invaluable as he knows all the drills when it comes to racing - I’d have been lost otherwise even with the help of the other guys in the series. My family / girlfriend had also made the journey a couple of hours behind us and was great to have their support. My dad was an ex-bike racer and likes his motorsport!

After unloading and saying a few hellos, the car needed to pass scrutineering. I was a little concerned about this but reassured that Andy knows the rules and regs very well, and has built an amazing car. The car passed the scrutineering checks without a problem, which was great. It was as this point you realise you are at a proper race event. I’d watched a bit of motorsport before, but to actually be in the paddock with the other racers instead of the spectator area was pretty amazing. On the same bill as the VTEC Challenge was truck racing, an MX5 series and Welsh Saloon cars.

I have to say thanks at this point, to Kris and Mikey who organise the VTEC Challenge. They have given me loads of answers to my stupid questions and made me feel at home at the race, and looked after me on the day. Great guys.

Andy set the car up and did all the required checks while I went to race control to give them my transponder number, needed to track the cars lap times. By the time I’d got back, it was almost ready for qualifying… Getting strapped into the car is very difficult, due to the cage, and once you are in it’s quite difficult getting the harnesses on, then getting the helmet and Hans device on. All done, and started trying to think about how to qualify! We got led through to the pit area, switch the transponder on, pull the firing pin on the extinguisher, focus! I still felt very calm at this stage, and I think all my track work helped with this.

Out onto the track and I stuck to the back so I could figure out the circuit and get some clear laps in. it’s a great flowing circuit, with some high speed sections and a very heavy braking point for a hairpin at the end of the start finish straight. I got the rough line after 3-4 laps and tried to put in some quicker ones, whilst not overstressing the car. The session ended quickly and I got back to the paddock to find I was 10th out of 11. Not great but I was still new to the car, the track and this experience. My lap times were falling from an initial 1:19 down to 1:11 on my second to last lap which was reassuring. My front pads were shot from previous trackdays, so Andy got to changing them for a fresh set. We tweaked the dampers a little bit, and the tyre pressures.

Race 1 was just after lunch and I found myself in the same routine as qualifying - get strapped in, transponder on, extinguisher on, focus! At this point I tried to recall my aims… 1) Don’t crash 2) Don’t get lapped! Being sat in the holding area seemed to take an age, and the MX5 series before us was still in full flow. Most of the guys were out chatting, but I kept myself in the car so I could work out what I was doing. We then got led out onto the circuit for a warm up lap - queue lots of Honda VTECs weaving around the race track! I focussed on the lines rather than weaving, and used some heavy braking to warm the tyres. You don’t notice the amount of people watching or the circuit commentary over the loud speakers at this point!

Back to the grid and we are sorted into position. The 5 second borad comes out and the lights all go red. I hold the revs at around 4500 and wait… light go out and it’s just a load of VTEC noise. I get an ok start but don’t gain or lose any places. Survive the first hairpin and get stuck in a battle with a blue DC5. After a good few laps I eventually spot somewhere I can pass, and I finally nail it - first racing pass felt pretty good! By this point the rest of the field have moved on, so the rest of the race is about piling consistent laps in and not making any errors. After the chequered flag it was back to Parc Ferme to see how we’d all done. Some good banter in the holding area, and I found I’d come 7th from 10 after the overtake and 2 cars suffering issues mid race. Happy with that for now! Andy from VTEC direct took the win and sounds like there was some good racing in the mid field.

Race 2 was the following day, and I had to be careful not to get carried away with ambitions! Keep it on the track, don’t get lapped… Due to my result from the last race I was moved up the grid with 3 cars behind me. I get a similar start to last time, but some less than aggressive driving leaves me last coming out of the first hairpin! Not happy but I’m still in it. The pack seems to be leaving me behind this time and I’m finding a lack of grip. Slowly I clawed back some time and get past the blue DC5 again, in the same spot! After that it’s similar to Race 1, the pack have cleared off and I just have to try and catch up. The track is clearly slippy, and the Accord of VTEC Direct has dropped a lot of oil, resulting in Andy retiring.  I managed not to spin on it, and after getting past a couple more cars I ended up 6th out of the field and 3rd in class!  Mike Clark of R Motion won the race in his Civic, which was great as it goes to show that power isn’t everything!

 First trophy!  

While the grid wasn’t huge for this race, and it was largely uneventful in terms or overtaking, I’m pretty happy with the car and how it went, and to get the experience under my belt. It’s a massive jump from trackdays and so much to think about. Great fun though and the focus is to enjoy it. The car needs to lose a lot of weight now, at 1230kg with me in it, I’m losing upto 200kg on some of the other cars! So it’s off for a diet and some other tweaks  The driver has some plans for the next race too!

Next race is Oulton Park on 19th May and there should be more entries!

Previous Articles:

Part 1 - Getting Set up


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