I Like Cars

Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship – North Weald (Round 1)

2014 03 16 lotus sprint championships north weald 06

So, this is a bit weird, but at the weekend I took part in the Lotus Cup UK Speed Championship  first round at North Weald in Essex. It was amazing.  AMAZING!

2014 03 16 lotus sprint championships north weald 04

I’ve never competed in motorsports before, I love driving and I love my car but I’ve only ever taken part in one track day, and that was back in August 2011 at Bedford. I was determined that this year I wouldn’t miss out, so I’ve gone all out and signed up for the whole season!

2014 03 16 lotus sprint championships north weald 01

We left home at five-something in the morning and headed off to Essex. By the time we got there a lovely sunny day was starting, and I was really nervous. I signed on and then the scrutineer came over to do his inspection. The car was fine (Steve is standard apart from an induction kit) but there was a problem with my helmet and race suit. Adam and I had travelled to Silverstone the other week to get the suit, and we were specifically told it was the right one, but it turns out it wasn’t. (I’ve just phoned the company who sold it to me and they are still adamant that its the right one! Frustrating!) I felt pretty miserable. Everyone was so kind to me, they saw my miserable face (it’s too expressive, I can’t hide anything from anyone!) the guys at LOTRDC found a helmet for me to wear, and a totally lovely man called Tim (who was racing a coooool mini) loaned me his suit. It was so nice, I had no idea that people would be so generous and helpful. Lovely, lovely bunch!

2014 03 16 lotus sprint championships north weald 03

There were lots of cars there, everyone was competing in their class, and overall. I was in Class LOT1, with 16 other drivers. Everyone had two practices and three timed laps. My first practice was really slow (there were slower, but I think they must have got lost!) but my second practice was much better. I’m so used to driving on the roads (and watching out for other cars, people, kittens, doll parts) that it took me a little while to get into it.

2014 03 16 lotus sprint championships north weald 07

My first timed run was 92.38, followed by 92.46 after lunch (sausage sandwiches slow you down!), and then 90.97. I would have really liked to get under 90, but I can’t expect to be an expert when I’m not one! 76.64 was the time to beat – yes, I have a long way to go, and I may never get there, but I was faster than two other drivers, and placed 14 out of 16. Overall I think I was 64th out of 79. It’s not bad, although it might sound it, but everyone else there has loads more experience than me, so I feel like I’ve done really well and that I can improve too!

2014 03 16 lotus sprint championships north weald 02

To put it into perspective (Stuart from LOTRDC was kind enough to do this for me yesterday when I was wishing I was a super duper driver!) in my class there were 16 other drivers, including (now, this is cool!) Martin Donnelly, ex Lotus F1 driver. Yeah! Wow, ay?! He came 3rd.

Before we left for home there was the giving of trophies, and I was chuffed that Tim (who leant me his lucky suit) won his class. He was really kind and helpful to me, he had no idea who I was, but he was willing to offer me support and for that I will show gratitude with the gift of cider!

2014 03 16 lotus sprint championships north weald 05

To add to the excitement of the day, I got interviewed for TV about my experience. They interviewed Martin Donnelly too. I expect he will be much more interesting to listen to than I was, but I was very restrained and didn’t do anything particularly odd, which is unusual!

I thought I’d done okay and not embarrassed myself too much, but then I saw the group photo of the drivers on Facebook this morning… sorry about that!