BTRDA Rallycross Round 1 - Blyton Park
Well! After a 10 year break from racing and having never raced Rallycross before, it was in at the deep end with only 1 test session 2 weeks earlier for the first round of the BTRDA Rallycross season for round 1 at Blyton Park.
4:30am start to get to the track to meet the team (Lucas Oils Team Geriatric – 2016 British Champions) and get ready for scrutineering and drivers briefing before practice.
In typical British weather it was a damp start to the day and I spent the practice session tip toeing around on slicks trying to find some sort of grip and then back to the pits ready for the first race.
After the first few races the track had started to dry so it was looking like slicks, then just before
being called to the grid it started to rain slightly so a tyre change was made.
Lined up on the grid the 5 second board goes up and we are all ready to drop the clutch and race. A good clean start and my grid position puts me on the outside for the first corner, but tucking in behind sees a good clean first lap and I am with the pack. (one thing to remember is whilst my previous racing over at least 10 laps allows you to work out your race for a couple of laps and then keep picking other drivers off, Rallycross does not allow this as you only get 4 laps in the race, so it pretty much be on it from the line and get to the front as fast as you can to get away) Lap 2 I start dropping back and by 3 and 4 I am sliding around on melting rubber. Wrong choice of pressures and inexperience on the gravel .
So back to the pits and get ready for race 2.
Race 2 back to slicks on the front and cuts on the rear. This time starting on the inside the 5 second board goes up and not one of my best moments, selected 3rd gear instead of 1st and stalled leaving me embarrassingly sat on the line. Anyway back into first gear and off we go and catching the pack back up within 1 lap, ok so now time to get stuck in, over the jump and then hit the pothole in the track that had been getting worse all day and the car now starts to become very heavy on the steering and really struggling to go round corners and understeer developing into oversteer. It really was a shocker and back in the pits that’s what was bent and needed to be changed. Great job by the team to get it changed and set up ready for Race 3.
Race 3, middle of the grid and the 5 second board goes out again and with a bit of OCD making sure I was in first gear I had a good start off the line and all tucked in for a good race. Everyone raced really tight lines and I was just hanging on for 2 laps until I started dropping back with the same issues of understeer to over steer and the added problem of fuel starvation through the corners. So back to the pits to sort the suspension and fuel problem ready for the final.
That was it, needed to finish on the pace and having a good race so we lined up on the grid, final 5 second board, definitely in first gear for the start and a good clean start on the run up to the first corner where I was a little bemused to see one car take a different line completely outside the white lines of the track, but hey, maybe this doesn’t matter in Rallycross so lets get on with the race. 5 laps this time and the car is great, still losing out with my inexperience on the gravel and never using the handbrake in the hairpins I am with 1st and 2nd and the race is on.
The next few laps everyone drives tight lines and there is nowhere to get pass on this tight narrow track. On the last lap it gets tighter and I am waiting for 1st and 2nd to make a mistake and ready to take advantage, into the second hairpin onto the gravel I get up the inside and ready squeeze the throttle but such a tight line leaves me not being able to get on the power and lacking grip and back behind 2nd place so one last chance on the brakes into the next where 1st and 2nd almost come together allowing me to line it up for the final corner, it was going to be close and hoping 1st and 2nd come together and pick up the pieces. Well it nearly happened and I was ready up the inside but just not quite enough over the line as it was an extremely close 123. Great race after the issues through the day, happy with the pace for my first time out.
Big thank you to the team Tony, Tony, Neil and Stephen from Lucas Oils Team Geriatric for all the hard work, my partner (new pit girl) for all the effort on the day and support me and looking forward to the next round at Pembrey. Will get my head round this Rallycross and give you some good racing to watch. Follow me on twitter, facebook and Instagram for photos and my progress and what our sponsors have to offer.