When we left for MIRA, the wrong side of 6am, the sun was already out, forcing it’s way through the early morning mist and promising to make the day warm and lovely.
Personally, I’m not hugely keen on MIRA as a track, but The Bentley Drivers Club are such a lovely bunch (they really are) and they are so welcoming to us, that it balances things out for me somewhat. Plus they have a Tag Heuer touch screen timing station, or ‘log machine’ as Adam called it, and proper toilets, with glass basins and clean floors. Winning.
After the briefing we all climbed into (and onto, for those vintage Bentley drivers!) our cars, and drove out for a convoyed sighting lap of the track, which was brilliant. Much better than walking the course (because, at least for me, I think it enables you to judge distances and track conditions much better) and I do believe it may have actually encouraged more cars to stay on the tarmac for the rest of the day!
Simon Foley had a brief moment of worry when his car decided it couldn’t make the whole lap and wafted the strong scent of fuel at him. He was quickly recovered by the marshals and in the paddock the issue was found and fixed. Job done.
I’ve been to MIRA twice before, and I still have no idea where the track goes! Sitting low in the car, driving the track, with the raised grass around me and flat landscape, I struggled to find things to familiarise myself with. You cannot use wild dandelions as reliable marker points, it seems.
The two practices weren’t too bad, first one for familiarisation, second one for trying a bit more to push myself round blind corners with confidence. Pah!
Somehow we managed an almost two hour long lunch break. The sun was bright and warm, there was a slight breeze, and I’d been well behaved and baked three dozen Portuguese custard tarts to share round. Seriously, we could have been in the Mediterranean! (Hmm, maybe I do live in a utopian bubble?!)
After a wobbly start off the line, I managed 60.03 for my first timed run. Adam managed 58.22 with more wobbles, and a flame from the exhaust pipe. I should have just given up there and then!
I was ready to be an amazing on my second run and surprise everyone with my rad skillz. I started well and I was off to a good start, I felt, but then… what’s this? As I began to gather speed I spotted some kind of debris in front of me. Oh no! Big black boulders of doom! On the track were massive chunks of tarmac, egg-sized, and scattered across the first corner where I was still accelerating.
I slowed a little as the car went over them, I had to, it felt like it slid one way, then the other. I carried on, but it had slowed my speed into the next section of track, which happened to be a place where I could go flat out, so there was no way of gaining anything back here.
I did keep trying but I was disappointed. Xav and Simon had also been put off by the boulders. I went and reported it to the marshals. I thought about asking for a re-run for us all, but the rain had started and the opportunity had passed.
It turned out to be Pidgeon mess on the track – Andy had had an over-excited spin!
I had managed to get my time under 60, at 59.91, and only 0.19 seconds behind the next driver, but, that still put me at the bottom of my class. (Now, had I been in another class, this could have been a different story and I could have been cheering about trophies instead of whinging about being last!)
Production class definitely seems to be the most competitive, and I’m not just saying that to appease my ego!
Stuart and Mark both got 56.78, and Adam 56.79. That’s close, and kind of weird, when you think about it.
In Supersport, after both timed runs Russell and James both had exactly the same times with 55.96, but the win went to Russell as his first timed run was faster than James’.
And our winners are… drum roll… Prince impression by Phoebe… whooping and cheering in the marquee…
1st Nigel Hannam, 2nd Xavier Brooke, 3rd Phil Stratton-Lake
1st Stephen Morrison, 2nd Simon Foley, 3rd Andrew Pidgeon
1st Russell Whitworth, 2nd James Tubby, 3rd Martin Roberts
1st Duncan Fraser, 2nd Paul Neale
Such a good day – great people, great cars, and Simon Foley had a stash of lollipops with him. Hooray!