Donington Park, Derby, saw the final round of the Logson Group Porsche 924 Championship races in October 2012.
Due to a top secret commitment on the Saturday (you may find out one day) I was only racing on the Sunday. After a few weeks of turmoil with the car it was my final chance to hold by position in 4th place or fight to a top 3 finish in the standings.
Being a particular favourite and strong track I was hopeful so started with high spirits. As is usual for Motorsport there are also the lows that you have to battle your way through. Mine started with ‘Scrutineering’. Unfortunately despite two seasons of the 50 kilos ballast being bolted to the floor in exactly the same place, this time it failed their checks which meant some brackets were hurriedly sent to the circuit to rectify. You must not show annoyance as their main concern is your safety; so when you are upside down and do not have 50 kilos on your head, because it was strapped in properly, and you walk away, you will be thanking them! Secondly the rain light was not up to their strict scrutiny so that needed addressing as well. With those failures fixed and spirits high again we were ready to race!
Not so fast, now the weather was against us. The fog on the Sunday morning was so heavy it looked like it would not lift until lunch time. All morning saw racers wandering in to the pit lane to inspect the visibility. It was so bad that the double set of lights at the end appeared singular. One marshal post to the next was obstructed with dense, wet, heavy air. Some racers resorted to taking pictures of their cars, some drank more coffee, all were getting incredibly itchy feet.
Then the news we had all been waiting for! It was clear enough to race! Due to missing qualifying the day before I had to do 3 laps behind a pace car, these are MSA rules and do not give you a position on the grid other than back. That made my task slightly more difficult but I was up for a challenge, as always. I did at Oulton Park – started last and got my first podium. It can be done!
Lining up the grid, I was focusing on the red lights, waiting for them to go out and conscience of my revs. OUT! I was off, got a fantastic start overtaking several cars before Turn 1 (Redgate), held it round the corner and down through Craner Curves I found my way through the pack. Managed to get up to 4th place and was on top of the world, so excited, the podium was in sight! Then as I was passing car number 10 on the right to obtain 3rd place on the exit of the Old Hair Pin to go up the hill (racing line puts you on the left here) he turned in and bang I was pushed off the circuit, went in to a spin, avoided the gravel and back to where I started, last. The new timetable meant the races were now 13 minutes instead of 20, due to the weather, so I did not have much time to make up some places. To say I was a little bit cross would be a huge understatement. My rage travelled through the pedals and gearbox as I fought passed a few cars. I finished 7th and in my eyes the race was lost.
In true 'Weeble' style I dusted myself off and prepared for my next race, the last race of the weekend and in fact the season. It does not matter what luck you have had before the race, all of it leaves your mind when you are sitting on the grid waiting for those glowing red circles to extinguish. You become fixated on them. Again, a good start, much better than my starts last year - that's what practise does to you. The racing was played more fairly by my competitors and I was running in third for most of it visualising the podium. It was in sight, not long to go. One thing we have to contend with is sharing the track with another class, the Boxsters. Sometimes it is to our advantage, sometimes it makes no difference at all to your race but occasionally it is detrimental and unfortunately this was one of those times! The lead Boxster found his way passed me and unfortunately car 11 followed. The final chicane was upon us, then the pit straight and end of race, P4 (Position 4).
The final result meant I held 4th place in the Championship. This was not the result I was planning to achieve but it was still a good result given the mechanical problems and changes to support through the season. The plan next year is to stick with the same mechanical support for the entire season and finish top 3!