Kutuka Motorsport North







12th September.



By morning the muttered threats of stock car racing have settled into what sounds like a new rule. I’m not intimidated, you don’t play that game against an all-steel car, but my sense of justice has been piqued.


The grid is the same as yesterday, and my plan is the same, but I need to do a better job of squeezing Chris to my left. Stewert is the easier car to overtake here, Chris is the threat to my red hat collection. It’s risky, given the mood he’s in, he might decide to spin me, but I need to get up that hill high up the grid and avoid my 2008 problem, when I got caught in the pack and smacked off the road into retirement. I also need to avoid the 2009 problem, when I had the front bumper torn off and put through the radiator by another competitor in a rather aggressive startline move.




































At Cadwell your position on the grid is a bit vague, you can be anywhere from dead centre of the track to up against the concrete even when starting in the same position. It seems to depend on who lines you up, being so narrow the traditional two-by-two staggered formation goes out of the window. By luck of the grid marshall draw I not only started more centrally on the grid, but with a better start, a hint of wheelspin killed with a tiny lift, Helen comes off the line very well today, and I have a second to actually think about this one. Bear hasn’t got moving very well, Stew louses it up, I have that tiny window of time, and move the car over to the left.


I can’t quite get ahead of Bear and slam the door for the lead, though it’s close, so Bear comes past and there’s a hole wide enough for an XJS left down my left, which is what I didn’t need, but as we get to the corner that gap ahead of Chris is still long enough to fit an XJS in, so I put an XJS in it, hurrah! Slotted in behind Bear, and we go up the hill p1 and 2. That’s it, done it, the race is mine, class win for certain, start counting the points haul. Stew has passed Chris with another of the banzai outside moves he does sooo well, and down the back straight it dawns I might be able to retain p2 again because Stew’s a devil to pass and I’m faster than he is. It wasn’t what I set out for, I just want to win the class, but I’ll take p2 if it’s going.








































Chris ends that thought, he’s straight back past Stew at Park, and onto my tail as we get to the mountain, driving much better today than yesterday, more aggressive but confident with it, the car’s body language yesterday was very uncertain but today it’s more purposeful. Yon can just see it in a car whether the driver is on or off form.


He goes to the outside at the left hander up the mountain, an impossible move, and there’s just no way it’s going to work on me, two XJS won’t fit here. Helen sits solidly on the racing line, and he very wisely backs out of it. It was either that or a lot of body damage, I don’t succumb to those sort of tactics, and Helen still has her bumpers fitted. No need for impatience, just give it a second and pass me on the straight, I’m not fighting this one, it’s not what today’s about, I’m out for easy points.


Alarm bells are ringing though, because Bear is quite clearly fast asleep ahead of me, thinking it’s all done already, and he’s in for a shock, because Chris is going to pass me in about 20 seconds and he’s not the panicky cretin of Saturday.


Sure enough, past he goes down the pit straight, and away. Sadly, my car seems to be slow, it is sluggish up the mountain and I can smell the brakes. Odd, as I’m barely using them, I’m already into cruise mode, anyone can come past me now but class D cars, I don’t care one bit.





































Lap 3, and Stew has caught me. This is not good, I haven’t lifted off that much, the car is really dragging badly, it’s as if I’ve lost two cylinders, no pull to it at all. He slams it up my inside at Coppice, to the point I said rude words to him, but I clearly have a problem. Into Charlies and the engine revs, there’s an almighty battering sound coming from the rear, and the drive has gone. Change up, just in case, but it’s not gears, that’s back axle. Off the road and park it, scramble up the tyre wall, done. Damn. That was not the plan. So much for counting my points at turn 2 of lap 1, really must stop doing that.


The smoke gently wafts out of the wheelarch, something in there is very, very hot.


Watching the race then with a sense of numb inevitability. Bear isn’t always very good at leading. He’s awesome at chasing, but he doesn’t like running, finds it hard to judge his speed, and as soon as they came round again with Chris pulling him in, I knew this was going to end in tears. If could have pushed Helen round the track to give chase I would have done.


Sure enough, the commentator tells me of the inevitable collision, and the fact that it was an outside move at the Mountain tells me all need. With points at stake it's better for the pursuer to have both of them DNF than to lose, we’re into Senna v Prost territory. Not how I understand we’re meant to play, but who am I to judge?


Despite the Bear finally waking up and setting a blistering pace to take over 8 seconds off the lead, it’s never enough, he comes second. I am properly cross. It’s Bear’s fault for getting caught, and I’ll be beating him with a stick hourly, but the overtake there was never on, it was a classic let me through or take us off move, and I don’t approve at all. Supposed to be a game, a non-contact sport, not banger racing. At least I now know what the rules are regarding overtaking.





































Swept up onto the lorry and dumped in scrutineering. How they expect you to recover a car without drive from scrutineering I don’t know. Mr Scrutineer comes over for words, initially thinking that I was involved at the Mountain. He loses interest when he discovers it’s mechanical failure. I ask for detail about the collision, and he has none, but indicates that track officials are interested in looking at the incident.


We were then beset by punters from the stands offering the Bear their two pennorth and all very vocal in their complaints about that move. I’ve certainly never seen that before.


I throw another secondhand hub and driveshaft on the car, because it’s not hub, it’s afailed bearing and snapped shaft, and back to camp, total time under 20 minutes. Suck on that, Kwik Fit!


Not the end to the weekend we wanted. Now we head to Snett with it all to do. One clean set of full points and I’m XJS champion, but it’s going to depend on mechanical reliability, so the car need a deep, deep check over to tighten every last loose screw. I won’t lose this to a mechanical problem.


A sad end to a great weekend, but we can still do it, and we’ll be back with ever greater determination. I have a plan.


OK, so this was race 1, but, well, tough.




The smoke, sadly, isn't tyres. The wheel bearing is getting a little warm...

















There goes the bearing, and the driveshaft. Spot the pieces of upright and the wheel considering a solo career.



A bollard gets a truly righteous twatting.





Back to From the Driver's Seat. HERE



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