2011 – RD11&12 Race Review

I’ve decided that I should prepare less for future races, they seem to go better than the ones I put a lot of effort into. Maybe thats just motor racing full stop.

Post Rockingham I had my wrist in a cast and even on optimistic days I really didn’t think I would be getting the cast off in time, but went with the positive attitude thing. The friday after Rockingham had probably been the worst moment. Initially told I could probably have the cast removed for good after another Xray it went to advising 2 weeks with a new cast, to 4 weeks to 6 weeks depending on who you asked and the new cast was put on. Seeing how disappointed I was they arranged for another XRay the following week to see how it was getting on. Fast forward a week, a 3 and 1/2 hour wait and I saw the consultant this time He advised it wasn’t the smartest idea but the wrist breaks were healing nicely and if I felt up to it I could have the cast made removeable. I didn’t hesitate to take him up on the offer. My fingers were all fine, but my thumb was pretty sore still. I just had to hope a week of more use would make it better.

Ironically the first time my thumb felt pretty good was the friday morning for the test day. I was first out on track and initially it felt a little uncomfortable. Not so much my wrist, but my whole arm. I was having to use the steering wheel differently as I couldn’t put full lock on, not good with 2 hair pins so I had to re-adjust my hands on the wheel for certain corners, however after an hour I felt it wasn’t compromising my speed in the car any more and I had it worked out enough I could get on with the day of getting the car setup and putting in some decent times.

I actually did a fair amount of seat time on Friday being an open pit lane event and the swelling which was nearly all gone didn’t come back. By the end of the day I was pretty sure I was on the pace for the race weekend. Mind you I’ve thought that before and its all gone wrong…

Saturday and for once I didn’t really have a plan. I ended up getting to the assembly area quite early, normally I prefer the back of the grid but it worked out okay and I managed 2 or 3 good laps. Ironically the pole time was set almost without a tow only getting one on the GP loop but it was enough by less than a tenth from Mark Shaw. My championship rival Jamie was taking his turn to have a “rockingham” qualifying matching my performance last time out with a 6th. Still, no points handed out for qualifying.

Race One is one of those very enjoyable races where everything (rarely) goes to plan. I got a good start and rounded the first corner in the lead with Mark Shaw close behind. The first few laps I pulled about a second but still very much providing a slip stream to the chasing pack. The lucky break happened on lap 2 or 3 when JJ O’Malley who was running 2nd pulled into the pits. He had a small gap over 3rd and that gave me enough distance to concentrate on my own race and head off into the distance. The SPY team had done a mega job on setup and I felt able to push harder and harder as we went through the race. I was aware I had done some good lap times but really went for a quick one at about 20 minutes which turned out to be the fastest lap of the race and lap record. The real bonus of course being the extra point that brings. The tyres were defineately a bit cooked after that so I eased back a bit and took the win by over 5 seconds.

As is usual with the British climate provided ample entertainment in the build up to race 2 on Sunday with the whole paddock constantly craining their neck up at the sky to try and work out what was going to happen next. We had been met with overcast conditions, then a bit of light rain and then heavier rain. Once that was finished it looked like we could be in for a dry race but the track stubbornly refused to dry. With two races before ours, one of them being F3 and it still didn’t completely dry the track. It was also a lot windier than it was before….great for tows but not good for trying to make a break.

As it happened I got an okay start, certainly not perfect and Jamie Ellwood who drove very well to get his best result of the season in 2nd one out dragged me on the run down to Redgate with Jamie Orton who had recovered well from his qualifying position to bag the final podium slot of race 1 behind me. I definately wanted to get past Ellwood as soon as I could and my first chance came coming out of Coppice onto the back striaght. As I went down the inside of Ellwood for the racing line into the chicance Orton had gone the otherside with a monster tow and as we came up to the chicane I just had to break as late as I dare. Orton did the same and fortunately for me couldn’t slow the car down enough and bounced relatively harmlessly across the gravel and I was able to take the lead. Unfortunately for Jamie Orton two corners later having lost only a handful of places in his off track excursion he was turned around at the Goddards hairpin and down to last place.

For most of the race I was able to hold the other Jamie behind me, normally at about a second gap but I just could not break him any further and with the track damp, most noteably at the Melbourne loop which had almost no grip no matter what line you took I made a mistake or two and that would let Jamie back on me. Knowing the other Jamie was not in contention I was pretty happy to take 2nd place but of course you always want the win if its available. As the last lap came up Ellwood was winning our personal duel and I knew it was now or never. I tried to go round the outside at Coppice but couldn’t make it stick so really I had to give it all at either the Melbourne Loop or Goddards. With the track still damp off line I had a great run out of the chicane and was looking to put Jamie under pressure into the Melbourne loop. Forcing him to go defensive onto the slightly damper line he was unable to get his car slowed down and I nipped under him, making sure I defended the whole way up to Goddards and the final corner I repeated my race one win but this time by under a second. That was a very tough race. Flick Haigh my SPY team taking her best result in R300’s and her first podium.

Jamie Orton had recovered to 8th place but having given up my chances at Rockingham I had cut the gap on dropped scores from 12 to 5 with one race meeting left. Its still a tall order but it means Silverstone on the 22nd October will be a little more nail biting. Those results guarantee 2nd in the championship and in any of the two previous years of the R300 championship 5 wins would make you champion. I have 5, Jamie has 6…..All to play for!

About Paul Wilson

Having a father who raced and a passion for motorsport it was always an ambition to go racing at some point in my life. In my twenties I raced Motocross and Enduro with some success, but I moved onto 4 wheels in 2008 and have not looked back. 2014 will be with Aston Martin Racing in the Vantage GT3 at the VLN with Stuart Leonard. When I'm not racing, I generally spend my time working out how to go quicker and how I'm going to pay for it all......

Posted on October 6, 2011, in Caterham, Motorsport and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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