Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship 2015 – Hethel (Round 8)

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Before we left for Hethel my nephew Sam told Adam that the car needed to be really, really clean, so that when we didn’t do very well nobody would notice. He’s four years old and very thoughtful.

We arrived at the Lotus Test Track in good time, and wide awake, for a change. It was good to see all the other Lotus’ there with B19, and PML, and some extra LoTRDC drivers who we don’t always see – John and Andrew.

I told Andrew that he either needs to get involved in the whole season of sprints, or back-off and give me a better chance of getting a point or two! I told him that the point system was a bit like when you win all the tokens at the arcades, and if he was lucky he’d be able to trade them in for a box of biscuits or something. I’m not sure he was keen. Later on he said I could keep the biscuits.

Practice one went okay for me, until I arrived at the second hairpin and didn’t turn soon enough – two wheels on the track, two wheels on the less-grippy gritty grass. I slowly made my way round the outside of the bend as if I was stuck on rails, all the way round until I could get back on track without risking a spin. It was slow, but it was all I was capable of. 155.47, not great, but almost 2 seconds faster than my best time back in May.

Adam’s first practice was far more impressive, and nerve wracking. I was standing on the pit wall, chatting to Steve and Stefan, watching the cars go by and waiting for my car to come back in. ‘There it goes,’ I thought, as Adam sped by with a squeal. Too much squeal! As he lost the car on the bend my hands came up to cover my mouth, and my eyes bulged at my fellow onlookers. We couldn’t see where he’d gone, as there was a wall in the way, and although it looked like he was headed for the barrier, there was no bang, so that was a definite positive. Somehow he managed to keep all four wheels on the track, carry on and get a time!

My second practice was more successful, and pretty. Yes, pretty! As I headed off the start line something red flashed in front of my eyes. No, not the red mist, (Gary Thwaites hasn’t been around  for ages to spur me on with stories of kitten harm at the finish line) it was a beautiful butterfly. I didn’t get a proper look, I couldn’t identify it, I was busy driving, but it was nice, and I liked it. My time was an improvement, 153.35. Thank you butterfly driving mascot.

Simon Foley wasn’t having as much luck (no helpful insects for him.) With an almighty bang one of his engine mounts had broken and needed to be replaced. Sounds like a big deal? Not when you’re hanging out with a bunch of Lotus lovers! In no time at all the part had been sourced from Simon Oakley and was being fitted. ‘Hit it with a hammer!’ directed Phoebe with intent.

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After lunch (a banana and a bag of popcorn for me, if you’re interested!) it was time for the first timed run. I was slower than my second practice, 155.23 –  a fluffed gear change, and no butterfly, that’s why!

On the second timed run Martin Roberts went off in a cloud of brown dust, his wife looked on with bewilderment. I managed a respectable 152.52, and Adam showed me up with a 147.45!

The death burger wagon was doing an afternoon tea special of scones with cream and jam. Lynne latched on to the decadence of the moment and said she thought it would be nice for the ladies to wear dresses, and fancy hats, a bit like Ascot. I wasn’t sure how practical it would be, but I’d really like some sequinned lapels for my race suit.

I’m not sure how long I was day-dreaming about those glitzy lapels, but it was long enough for Simon Foley to get fixed up and back on track for that second run, and… Boom! He made it to trophy time with 1st place in Production!

Jez Braker, with his magnificent flower-pot induction kit, took 2nd, and Martin Scarfe, who finally found the ‘Go!’ button, took 3rd place and Driver of the Day!

In the SuperSport class Dave Mann didn’t manage to get a second timed run in due to car troubles, but that didn’t stop him – 1st place, winner! John Taylor (he’s fast!) took a staggering 2nd, and Tony Pearman 3rd.

I’m not sure what happened with Tony’s times, but something wasn’t at all right. His second run showed almost 160 – which at the rate he drives must have meant he took a detour to the shops or something! Maybe that’s why he wasn’t hungry for his birthday cake later? Perhaps he’d popped off to the chippy? I hope he didn’t have ‘pea wet’ on them.

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After the trophy giving we ate the cake of Victoria Sandwich with redundant birthday candles, off the back of Dave Mann’s trailer. Dave didn’t even get a crumb. Sorry Dave, I owe you a cake.

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It was a good, sociable and sunny day under the big blue Norfolk skies. We even got an airshow fly past. Nice.

Derek from GAZ popped in, and Jaime from LoTRDC came along too, just to hang out with us all, on his day off!

All in all  Adam came 10th, and I came 11th, out of 13. This time last year my best time was 160.71 (I was 11th then too, but out of 15) I’ve knocked over 8 seconds off since then. I should be pleased. I need a faster car (and more skill!)

Dinner on the way home didn’t involve pancakes or waffles, but it did involved peas. I don’t like peas, but I do like good company, so it turned out right in the end.

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P.S. I apologise for my random photographs. No photo policy at Hethel. They have to protect their magic from the general public.

P.P.S. Did I tell you, I am currently 1st in the standings for the whole of the UK in the BWRDC Speed Championship? I wonder how long that will last?!

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