Brands Hatch May 2014

Brands Hatch 2014

Finally my Jaguar championship season got underway although the car was only set up on the rolling road two days previously.

I had been offered some throttle bodies and inlet manifold (on a free loan) and so spent some hard earned dosh on an Emerald ECU. With the wiring loom, fitting, rolling road work and sundries I spent around 2k, more than I have ever spent in one go and so I was full of hope.

The problem was though that the throttle bodies would not fit and so it was only the ECU that ended up being fitted and the rolling road results were not exactly earth shattering.

Qually on Saturday morning was evidence that either my rivals have made even greater improvements or mine were just not good enough (probably a combination of both). I was actually slower than last year’s fastest lap and 14th overall in the 29 car grid and 6th in class. A real disappointment as for the past few years I have not been out of the top three!

All to do then later in the first race of the weekend.

I had a good grid position on the outside, just where I like to be and got a blisteringly good start. Flying straight through the middle of the two cars just ahead, one more place up by sliding the inside of an XJ-S as we went round paddock Hill bend. Then side by side, three abreast into Druids hairpin and round the outside once again, two more places made up and amazingly up to 9th overall and in particular 2nd in class.

I couldn’t hold to that and dropped down to 10th and 3rd in class by the time we got to Clearways.

Then it was desperate defence for the rest of the race as the guys in my class behind me were all in quicker cars, evidenced on the time sheets after the race. Guy Connew was all over my rear bumper and we went side by side round Paddock on one occasion but great, respectful, driving from all meant no contact and I held on to take a hard fought 3rdb in class.

Not exactly the sort of race I had hoped for after forking out on 2k worth of ‘improvements’ however.

Sunday dawned clear and fine and we were set for another hot days racing. Once again I found myself in an outside grid position and two rows further up. Another blistering start saw me make up five places again by the time we got to Clearways. One thing that does seem to have improved with my Jag’s performance is lower down torque meaning I do seem to have more grunt available at the start.

Once again having moved up to 5th overall and 1st in Class I went into major defensive mode knowing that the guys behind, including several XJ-S’s had faster cars than mine. For about 12 minutes I though I would get away with it then Guy, who had once again been inches behind my rear bumper, made a great move to come up inside at Paddock. Unlike the previous day he got a good drive out of the corner after I went a little too wide and got onto some loose rubber.

Damage done and I was down a place and so decided to try and stick to his bumper. Unfortunately half a lap later as we went into Clearways someone had dumped fluid and my rear wheels found it! There was no way I could hang onto the rear of the car and so round we went and I lost four or five places before getting under way again. I did manage to haul in several drivers and then did my best to catch Guy who had a moment of his own with Matt Jeffery. It wasn’t to be and so I had to settle for another 3rd in class and 8th overall.

All in all not a bad weekend with some excellent, close and exciting racing, but without the sort of competitiveness that I had hoped for. There is not much money left in the kitty so I will see how the car goes at Castle Combe in July before seeing if another trip to the rolling road and work with cam timing is worth the expense.

It is not going to be a full season anyway so I think I will just enjoy the racing this year and see what comes.

My next time in a car will be in an Areal Atom, blidfolded, to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind on 5th July at Pro Drive.