Last week I treated myself to a gearbox rebuild, a new clutch and some rear brakes. It was worth it. I can now use 5th gear, and I don’t have to fight to get the car into 3rd, my clutch pedal now feels like I’m stepping on a freshly baked soft bread roll, where it used to feel like a lumpy old carpet, and I didn’t realise my brakes could be so good!
This week I’m lavishing more gifts on the little car and getting some new tyres. It’s all go! I liked the thought that my balding back tyres would become racing slicks, but they’ve just gone shiny and plasticy. They remind me of a bicycle I had when I was seven. It had solid tyres, my brother painted it blue and white with a misty middle and I ran it into walls and laughed when Rachel Wise tried to give me a puncture.
So, on Sunday it was the 8th round of the Lotus Cup UK Speed Championships. There are only 10 rounds in total, I can’t believe it’s gone so fast. It’s been such fun!
It was a lovely sunny day at the home of Lotus and there were some awesome cars out (I’m sorry there are no photos, but they don’t really allow them). I’m very fond of the track at Hethel, I’ve done two track days there, and now two sprints!
We started off with the practice lap which was quite unusual really. Normally you go out and do two practice runs, but Borough 19, who were running the event, decided to send us out for one two-lap practice. It was quite enjoyable but very time consuming as there were only 4 cars on track at any time, and there were a lot of cars there!
My practice time of 164.26 was pretty good for me, I think being familiar with the track and having a working gearbox really helped. We didn’t start our timed runs until after lunch.
Quite a few cars had quite a few spins. On my first timed run I almost caught up with the car in front because he’d had a spin. Although I was able to complete the lap, the timing gear hadn’t saved a time for me, so I had to do a re-run. I managed 163.26. My second run felt much better, and it was, 160.71. My third run was again impeded by the driver in front of me. These things happen, it’d be boring if people weren’t really pushing themselves to their limits. I was allowed another re-run. I don’t really enjoy re-runs, I get a bit hot with my helmet on when the car isn’t moving and I’m rejoining the queue to go out. 161.80 was my third recorded time. That’s okay.
The slowest car in my class was 165.21 and the fastest 142.08. There’s a lot of difference in the cars and driver skill and experience. I could try to compete with a driver in a 160bhp car, but I’ll struggle with my 118!
I finished 7th out of 8 in my class. I am more than happy with that. I’m feeling good about competing with myself, and improving on my own times.
Last time I was at Hethel I managed 169.55. This time I did 160.71. For me, and my car, that’s an impressive improvement. No spins, no cones, no cramp, no disasters – am I finally managing to drive my car?
I was really very pleased to be there with my best clapping and whooping to see both Alan and Duncan get their first podium places and shiny trophies. How brilliant and exciting! Rob, Dave, Mads, and Nick also got shiny goods for being super speedy.
It was a great day, a really great day, and I too won a trophy – but that’s another story!