Spring has sprung and we are back to the sprinting. Hooray for early morning starts and huddling together in random carparks, whilst wishing for sunshine and extra driving skills (spelt with a Z).
It’s all changed a bit for 2016, an unavoidable but last minute update to the regulations led to four classes instead of two, and the need for us to either fit roll-over protection, or swap our dear sweet ZZR tyres for something else. In the rush and hurry we decided to buy a set of secondhand wheels with tyres already on them – Toyo R888’s. The rears are okay, but the fronts happen to be five years old and not very useful.
We arrived early to sign on and be briefed, and then had a good couple of hours to spare, catching up with everyone and having breakfast. I decided to have a mushroom roll because Adam had been talking to me about animal welfare standards and I had no idea where those sausages had come from. The fear of eating a mistreated pig was too great a risk.
We were very lucky to be at Snetterton for the MSVR ‘Season Starter’ alongside the Elise Trophy, Lotus Cup, MSVR Allcomers and Monoposto racing.
Just after noon we got started. Two back-to-back practices, and a timed run, to be followed by three timed runs after lunch.
Spoiler: this is the one where Adam does extremely well and I shame myself with uselessness and you’ll probably think I had never driven a car before, or want to patronise me like one of the marshals did and ask me if I’m too busy doing my hair in the mirror to actually drive the car.
Now obviously I have to get my excuses in early. Martin Styles gave me a Cadburys Creme Egg and I really think that was what did it.
Several new drivers joined the Speed Championships crew, and many others had made updates and improvements to their cars since last season.
Andy Pidgeon had a new helmet painted especially for him by a man on the Isle of Skye who I totally believe has sheep as studio assistants. True to his usual dedication to speed, Andy came off on his first practice. He really needs a good spoiler to hold him down. Later, a dinner party plan was hatched to provide the perfect opportunity to Rohypnol newcomers and harvest their cars for parts. I have no idea where he gets his ideas from!
This is the first time I’ve driven the Snetterton 200 layout and I was surprised at how many straight bits there were. It’s what they call a ‘power circuit’ and I shouldn’t have had a problem with it, especially with all the improvements we’ve made to the car. No excuses, I just did really badly.
Like, really. I could try using the tyres as an excuse as they were shockingly bad, but Adam managed to cope with them and I should have been able to too. I was just terrible!
On my second timed run I came off at the hairpin. I glided my way onto the grass for a bit of gentle off-roading. Turning back onto the track the front tyres slid around and for moment I thought the car was trying to take me back to the start line. I do not have the skillz. Bloody Creme Egg.
I ended up with a best run of 1:21.35, disappointingly positioned 9 out of 11, and Adam, well, he managed to do it in 1:15.95, and took 3rd – his first ever podium place!
Trophy time was fun, and with the extra classes and new drivers, it was great to see people being recognised for their driving, and everyone else cheering them on.
Unfortunately the original trophies had all arrived smashed, but the LCUKSC team very kindly got last-minute stand-in trophies, in the form of an army of terrifying little men.
Adams trophy is having to go and live in his office, before I bury it in the garden incase it tries to attack me while I sleep. I’ve already had to googley-eye it, so it can’t see me, and I am more enamoured with it already.
So, the roll call of car wrangling champions goes like this:
1st Phil Stratton-Lake, 2nd Mark Swarbrick, 3rd Adam Ruck
1st Stephen Morrison, 2nd Jez Braker, 3rd Simon Foley
1st Mads Petersen, 2nd James Tubby, 3rd Martin Roberts
1st Jason Weatherall, 2nd Nick Emery, 3rd Paul Neale
Fastest of all the drivers was Jason Weatherall, a total natural at podium standing. I told him so. He is going to add it to his CV.
Although I was rather let down by my own performance, I was really very pleased for Adam, and for everyone else. It was great to see the speed champs massive (as they are known, in the hood), although we did miss some of our pals – I’m looking forward to the next round where nearly all of us will reunite, like a supergroup, or the Spice Girls, but with better costumes, more finesse, and cake.