Oulton Park Sept 2014-09-21

The final Jaguar championship race of the season was at my favourite track and with a new set of rubber I was really hoping to get my best result of the year, however after a three hour trip up the M6 on Friday things did not look so hopeful as I got the car unloaded and ready for qually first thing the next morning.

There had been some sort of mix up back at base and it was very evident that my brake pads, which I thought had been changed, would not do one lap let alone qualify and race. They were totally shot but luckily, friend and co racer Ian Drage saved my bacon by letting me have a set of pads which he was carrying. Thanks also to the Katuka racing boys for helping me change wheels and tyres, sometimes being a member of the fairer sex does have its benefits at male dominated events.

Gail Hill Oulton Park 20-09-14

Qualifying was a disaster though on a damp track the next morning. We were first out and the rain of the previous night had not had time to clear. After spending a few laps bedding in brakes and new tyres there was a safety car period but it was very obvious that my dry set up was far too stiff for the conditions and every time power went down the back end of the car stepped out.

What would have been my best lap was ruined when I dropped things exiting Knickerbrook and then the session was flagged. I found myself 16th, from a depleted grid of 17 cars! My worst qualifying for years, though the forecast was for a dry race so it would have to be a dash from the back to regain some pride.
I had a good grid position on the outside, my favourite position.  When the lights went out I was off to flyer, quickly getting alongside Webster’s, similar class B car. Unfortunately he was not looking and moved across and collected me along the offside which saw me leave the track brefily to avoid a worse collision. Not to be put off however I kept my foot in and moved ahead going into Old Hall and several other cars taking the tighter, slower inside line.

The start of any Jag race is always frenetic, with such big cars on cold tyres vying for very limited room on a crowded track and it was no different today, especially coming from the back where several other more modified cars had also qualified lower down than would be normally be the case.

Gail Hill Oulton Park 20-09-14

Coppock’s  V12 XJ-S got well out of shape as I closed up behind him and I found my self taking to the grass crete run off the avoid another collision. As we powered down Coppice I was up to 9th and in a train of five other cars including class and championship leader Simon Lewis with whom I’d had a great race with at Donington.

The rest of the race was a case of taking every possible opportunity to pass the next car in front. Comer on the run down to Shell Oils, Coppock, diving inside at Coppice a few laps later, then Lenthal who missed a gear exiting the chicane, which put me on the bumper of Lewis’s S2 saloon. The racing was absolutely fantastic with cars moving across the track vying for the best passing or defending opportunity. When Lewis made a move to pass Drage going down the Knickerbrook and Coppock got a run on me as we exited the chicane I could see my chance of a class win disappearing. Suddenly Drage moved slightly left and there was just enough space to squeeze down the inside and latch back onto Lewis’s bumper as we flew into Knickerbrook.

Handily Drage managed to hold off Coppock leaving me free to chase the championship leader who was by now up to 3rd. We spent the next three laps bumper to bumper but there was no way past no matter what I tried, and I tried everything!  Good fortune saw us both pass the 2nd placed driver Alistair McGregor, who had suffered brake failure and ditched in the gravel at Deer Leap. A podium, 2nd in class and fastest lap was a great result after such a dreadful qually and a great end to my Jaguar series for 2014.

There are still two more races, The Birkett 6 hour relay race on the Silverstone GP track in October and on the National track in November for a BWRDC record setting all female race.

There are a few dents to knock out on the offside and my clutch felt a bit iffy towards the end  but all should be set fair for another attempt by The Six Potters team at the renowned relay race next month; I can hardly wait.