Kutuka Motorsport North






Slouching towards the title.





Another £120 of R1R gets the 50p treatment.










Job done! So far as I can tell, at time of writing and with the maths still fresh, Kutuka have just taken every championship title going.


Overall champion, well, that would be me. Second overall, The Bear. Class D, me. Class E, Bear. Class G, Stewert. Team Challenge, Kutuka. Driver of the Year, me. There is literally nothing more we could have won. The only way to do better would be to field another 6 drivers to clean up the second and third in class trophies as well.


It was not the end to the year we quite expected, we hoped for it, but didn’t really think it was on the cards. Damned if it doesn’t feel good though.


Snett went well. The red car test was very interesting, and it worked very effectively. To take over 2 seconds off the Bear’s time and force him to go out there and repeat it effectively elevated that car to race day pace on test day, and that was the point. We knew from past experience that much of his testing is done well within himself, the true pace suddenly appears in qualifying with other cars to chase, he doesn’t do it by himself.


Sharing the test forced him into a protracted period of time at full pace, and that’s what we needed. Accurate feedback from a car on the limit, and perhaps more importantly, a Bear getting some practice in at full speed by himself, effectively as if in the lead of a race, the issue I’d suggest is his greatest struggle.







































By day’s end we were both able to crack into the 1.21s, and I doubted anyone in his class would be able to match that. Better still, on a partially damp track I could get it round in the 1.22.5s, something which did initially cause his little face to fall, but forced him to go out and repeat. With rain at day’s end Bear got some laps on a fully-wet track. Whatever quali was to throw at us, we had it covered.


I did have a lovely spin in Christine though, the classic exit of Russell incident, throwing mud like an enraged hippo. Coming past the pitlane I was rewarded by the five-fingered salute by a beaming Bear.


To quali, and lots of lovely rain. Sweet. Given there were 5 class E cars and 5 G, I should have been 11th XJS even in the rain, the straights are so very, very long that even my superior grip isn’t enough to overcome the straightline deficit. I was 6th. Somebody was clearly having a good long nap then. I’ll admit I was pushing, a good few lockups, a minor wibble at the exit of the essess, but catching pretty much everything I could see, even that pesky Darth Pearce was getting bigger in the windscreen.


Out of assembly with Gail ahead I had to pass her early, we like to go hot immediately, so I was a little rude up the inside into Sear, but she was able to drag me down Revett and was well clear as we got to the braking zone, which I left much later, sailed back up inside again, and that was that. I needed clear air. Plus, nice to show that last time we had a duel in a wet-weather race, the Birkett ’09, the tyre difference did matter. After that Mr Bye span it off in front of me, I passed Rich Dorlin, which did amuse me a lot, and soon there were no saloons left to defeat.


Bear had come past like a guided rocket on lap 1, a red blur that sounded like an aggressive bull elephant raping a cat, the sound of the red car at full chat at close range is something else.


Other than him, there was nothing in sight that looked quicker. 6th XJS was a disappointment, but I have to accept on this tyre my wet weather advantage is much reduced, at this track the ability to point and squirt the big capacity cars does still count, cornering heroics aren’t vital enough to make up for what must be several seconds of advantage down those outrageous straights.


There was, of course, one more reason for my disappointing pace, which is that with points on the table I had to finish, no falling off or crashing, play it safe. That car was faster than that time. Bear put his wet testing to good use to set a crushing pole lap nearly 2 seconds faster than p2, which is what happens when a big-power car also uses its cornering capability and lots of testing.





































With the sun out and the track dry for the race my advantages all evaporated with the rain, and I’m sat 7th on a grid of cars that are all out for blood, at a time that I’m out for survival. I stood in assembly and counted the number of cars between me and Drage. All I had to do is stay out of trouble, let anyone who wants to come past, I must potter round just winning D, setting fastest lap by the scantest margin, no risks, just points.


So it was. Never have I had such a deliberately-slow race. So slow was it that I worried our beloved engineer, who thought I had a problem. As the red lights came on I did get a moment of nerves. It struck me in that brief instant that the season comes down to the next 15 minutes, and one mistake in the next three seconds could see it all undone. Fortunately, brain neglected to tell body, who launched nicely without my interference.


With the start out of the way, which I did by getting the hell out of everyone’s way, it was then a question of spotting Seath in the mirror along Revett, and ensuring that each lap the gap was a tiny bit bigger. His is the very visible car, a helpful marker to spot. It was incredibly boring. Cruising round in the 1.28s each lap, missing most of the kerbs, not really squealing tyres, no risks. Cars come up on you, and you don’t defend all that much, V12s I know I can outpace that I let cruise by, just measuring that gap to the green car astern.


Merrett comes by trailing smoke like a kipper processing plant, thick and choking along Revett, but it almost disappeared in the corners, my cockpit quickly filled with oil smoke and I was grateful for the power windows. Suddenly he dropped it at Russell, right across my nose. Car spinning anti-clockwise, I cut the wheel left but he suddenly grips and the car rolls forward. Sling the wheel right with his passenger door huge in the screen, round the back across the kerbs onto tarmac again, missed him by millimetres, really thought that was the end of the title. Two more XJ6s come by as I search for acceleration, but it’s a small price to pay for survival.


Without incident then to the flag. Comfortably, boringly clear of the D cars, and I braked 200 yards early to wave Lewis past along Revett, then chased him for a couple of corners to prove I could, let him go again, sauntered in. I swear when you’re waiting for the flag it takes longer. Class won, fastest lap by only a second, class win by 18. Full points, and as Bear is giving his interview that means he took points off Palmer, I’m now XJS champion. Good.


With Bear taking full points he’s closing on Chris too, same again tomorrow and he’ll steal E and come second in the overall title as well. Until that’s done we’ll keep the champagne corks firmly in.


The twist in the tale comes later that same day. Chris has been out in his car in another race, and it ends in tears, big damage to his car, front and rear suspension deranged, beyond the ability of trackside repair. That car is done, and they won’t let him run an alternate car, even with every driver’s signature to say he can. We don’t quite see why. Attempts to fix the car fail. Attempts to convince them to let him run the black car fail. Game over.


It’s a bit annoying, we really did want him out there. I know that sounds daft, but we don’t want an easy life, we’d rather it were a straight fight, car v car, Bear does have pace here. Efforts to try and repair his car are beyond us. With a new bottom arm and a welder, maybe, but it defeats us.


Bear still has it to do, he still has to win the class and set fastest lap, but it is certainly going to make life easier if he only needs to beat Roger instead of Chris, their cars aren’t even close to being the same machinery.


The saloon results, with Dorlin out-qualified by Gail, and fastest lap by Bye, means I end up dead level with Rich now in the Martin Robey driver of the year trophy too, which means I could sweep up tomorrow. That was most unexpected.






































I’m not too concerned about that trophy though, so Sunday, for the first time in ages, since Anglesey in fact, I was free to go and race. Mind you, even Anglesey was tempered with caution, today didn't need to be. I haven’t done much racing for a long time, I do a lot of management, watch the gauges, watch other people’s races, watch the mirrors, but by and large I’m just a high-speed spectator. Today though, all those people I let go on the Saturday, all lined up ahead of me, it’s like a buffet of cars to go and play with. There are no classes for me now, no distinction between saloon and XJS, my “job” is done and I can play.


Helen makes her customary good start, but I have to lift to miss Ryan. Trying to swerve round him I then have time to plant it again and then lift a second time to avoid ramming Pete Dorlin, and there are no gaps to go through. With a compromised start instead of attacking I’m under attack, Doyle comes up the inside at turn 1. We go round it together, and as we hit the turn 2 traffic jam I’m on the outside, trying to go round the gaggle, which doesn’t really work, this mid-pack stuff is busy. This leaves me on Doyle’s boot, and I have to shut the door on Seath at the essess because again the road is snarled up ahead and I can’t go in at proper speed.


It’s a full lap before I can pass Doyle coming out of Sear and drag him to the essess again, I had a look into 1 but he’s got more confidence on the brakes than I have, I still don’t really trust my middle pedal. He is later on the brakes at the essess and looks to come back round the outside but I’ve shut the door. There is a small crunch of fibreglass as he nudges Helen’s rear bumper, but oddly she doesn’t really notice, whilst I see him going off the road to the outside of the right-hander. Not at all what I’d expect for that one, I should have been spun out.


That’s let the next car get away, and only after I chase it down do I realise it’s a Dorlin. That’s a bit odd, because he’s quicker than this car is going, it’s pulling better than mine on the straights, but I’ve got it in the corners, and that’s a real surprise to me, I’ve not really played with fast saloons before. Only after the race do I find he’d got engine woes. Doesn’t explain the cornering though, which led me to conclude that maybe, just maybe, the saloons are not all I think they are in the bends. If this car is struggling but still faster down the straights, it does show how fast they are when on song,


A great little race with Pete then, it was close and clean, and he defends nicely, and I was considering trying the outside at Coram because I know he can be trusted not to play dirty. As we get to the straights he’s gesturing to show me which side to pass, but still pulls away from me, it’s quite amusing really, but even a solid AJ16 in unmodified trim is clearly no match for a sensible XJ engine.


It does eventually happen, and just in time, because Ramm is in the mirrors now, and I don’t have the power. It’s the same race again, but in reverse, I have the cornering but not the grunt, and though he had to work for it he does eventually steam past down Revett to outbrake me. We’ve both closed in on Lewis in the process though, and I fancy a go at that. As we steam into Russell on the brakes Ramm leaves the inside open, not noticing that I’d gone through Coram faster and got my nose up the inside, a chirp of tyres from a late lean on pedal and I have the place back, take that Mr. E class! Lightweight car with big brakes v heavyweight with stock callipers, cue much laughter in my cockpit.











































Back past down Revett, and now right on Lewis’ bumper, I go back up the inside at Russell again, but Ramm shuts the door and I’m never going to make it now, there’s nowhere to go, so I go down the grass to the right, use all that lovely extra tarmac - I’d never even realised that the corner went so very far to the right, I thought I used it all - but I’m back on the road and must be 8 yards away from the apex, curiously able to rejoin without really losing any speed.


Ramm steams past Lewis, which gives me a new target. Great race then with Simon, and he is taking revenge for Anglesey last year when blue led yellow for that unexpected 1- 2.


Another chance to play with a saloon, and actually it’s the same story. He has the legs on me down the straights no matter how good an exit I got, but in the corners I have him cold. Trouble is he quickly realised our respective strengths and played to his in defence. Damn.


I tried everything. Left, right, fast entry, slow entry, different lines, weaving from one mirror to the other, dramatic changes of direction into braking zones, and my beloved blue car came alive. I swear it’s as if she’s asleep when I am, but the moment you ask her to get properly racy it transforms. I noticed it at Anglesey coming from the back, it just comes alive when thrown hard. To go from someone’s inside in a braking zone to switch the outside onto a wide line and looking for the cutback, whilst braking hard, that’s some ability in a car of this weight, but she just does it.


Into Russell, leaning late on the pedal to make him go tight to defend the inside, then reducing the pedal pressure slightly and swinging to the far left, diving out wide into the right to cut left early, it was two different attempts in the same corner, but it worked a bit too well, can’t quite tighten the left hander enough to get inside, so his compromised exit also messes me up. From what I hear the crowd enjoyed it though, we had about 5 laps of this.


A wily defender, deliberately slow on corner exit anywhere that he knew my car was about to slingshot out of, he turned it into a point and squirt race I was never going to win. Exit of turn 1, carrying a lot more speed, but his car is positioned to cover the inside and make an outside wall of death attack fail as well. A few more laps and I would have worked it out, it takes me a few to get my brain into proper thought to engineer a pass, but it was enormous fun as it was, I didn’t really mind not making it through.


Got pretty close, exit of the essess and I looked down at the car in dismay because I’d clearly just blown the engine, acceleration was rubbish, and it was only then that I realised I was trying to accelerate two cars, our bumpers had met without any damage or noise and I was trying to shove an XJ6 as well. Coram was the place to go for it, looking to go right round him, but it wasn’t really on. It was Brands Hatch again for me, I don’t need to pass, but the poor sod in front of me has to watch all the mirrors.


Tradition requires that I did wave to him, but unlike waving at Palmer or Pearce, this was a very long wave indeed, it started in 3rd gear, and I stopped only to change up, then resumed, we were braking for the essess in 5th when I had to quit.


Sad to see the flag, I could have done that all day.


Despite the traffic we were in the timesheets showed a pace 2.7 seconds per lap faster than the Saturday. It must be a bit annoying for the other class D cars that we have that sort of pace in hand, but I don’t know why it is. Ok, I do, it’s a fundamentally different way of going about things. We don’t copy anyone else, we don’t buy all the standard go-faster parts, and we test the damned car. It’s all in the car setup, we’ve had three years to get it right, and I’ve done more test miles than almost any other driver in the paddock, it was always going to happen. Great car, driver comfortable with throwing it, bound to get results.


That said, it must be a bit of a disappointment to be a class D driver. You’re driving flat out and you’ve nearly closed that gap to the class leader, it’s that breakthrough you’ve wanted, and then you find they were fast asleep, and can unlock another three seconds without blinking. Don’t worry, it’ll stop shortly, I’m not coming back.


With the news that Dorlin went off and lost his lead to Gail, I win the Martin Robey. Talk about putting the tin hat on it.


That’s the overall championship sealed, and class D. With Bear winning E he gets second overall, Stew took G, and we gather the team trophy as well, plus the Martin Robey. Roger, who might perhaps be seen as an associate, takes 3rd in class E, his season-long goal. In short, the Kutukites have achieved every single goal we set out for. What a way to end the year.













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