Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Donington Park........... Playing with the trucks
First off....... apologies for delay in updating the blog! Its been a busy few weeks!
Donington Park......... wow........ this is the big time! I had been working on behalf of the BSSO to get this meeting sorted out..... it's too long a story to go into here.... but we had been on/off for weeks! But finally it all came together with some help from our friends at the VMCC who we normally race with. We had a 6 race weekend as one of the support races with the truck racing championships. Also on the support bill was Ginetta sports cars, BMW saloons, Formula Renault, Pick Up trucks, and even drifting cars. It was a very diverse and interesting set of vehicles, and scooters were the only two wheeled vehicles.
I had lots of organisational stuff to do for this meeting which was a really big pressure in the days before, so had a lot to do really, but I decided to fit a new piston as the original one was well past its service schedule! So a new suzuki piston and rings was fitted, along with a new set of clutch plates ready for the big demands of Donington and its long straights and sweeping curves.
I arrived Friday afternoon quite early and spoke with the event organisers..... we had all the scooters in a defined area which was great. The paddock slowly filled up as the evening went on it was obvious that a great atmosphere was forming. Saturday broke with superb weather and we were first on track for our practice.
It was absolutely awesome to be heading down Redgate and Craner Curves, Old Hairpin, McLean's..... all the famous bends where I have watched my heroes over the years... Senna, Mansell, Rossi, Schwantz...... they have all been there. Amazing feeling to be doing the same! The practice seemed to go on forever...... we had nine laps. Bizarrely my fastest lap was actually on lap two! I still can't understand why that would be!
Race 1 was soon called. It was soooooo nerve wracking lining up on that grid.... a lot of the Formula Renault drivers had come to the pit wall to watch! Bit of a rubbish start.... but once into a crowded Redgate a gap opened and I was passing a few people. Towards the end I caught my old mate Matt Gooch who was making a return to racing after 20 years away! Behind me was Roland Davis, it was the most bizarre thing - it was like we had gone into a time warp back 20 years! At the end of the race I had gone 5 seconds quicker than practice, so I was quite chuffed. Last lap came up all too sudden.... Roland had got by me down Craner Curves, but I had a bit more straight line speed and was able to get some distance back along the main straight.... at the end as I outbraked him into the chicane.... bang.... the engine locked as it seized into the right hander...... I coasted into the pit lane! Gutted as I saw Roland take the chequered flag.
So....... new piston seized after one race! So it was engine apart and all hands on deck to clean it up and rebuild. As I was doing this a riders meeting was called with the news that the next race was being brought forward as they were ahead of schedule! It was in 10 minutes! Holy Moley...... my engine was still apart! It was all hands on deck and with help from Chalky and Ciro of Replay we were slapping it all back together at breakneck speed. Luckily a Renault had buried itself into the gravel so I got an extra 10 minutes. As I entered the start straight, the pack was going around Redgate on the formation lap!
I chased them at full race pace and tried to go to my grid slot, but was waved back to the back of the grid as I had not been there for the dummy grid line up! The Red mist came down and I had a great start and was up to where I had been in race 1 by the time we got to Redgate!
I had another fabulous tousle with my old mate Roland and we were swapping places nearly every lap.... we were both absolutely loving it!
We had three races on the Saturday and each one was an improvement, and by the end of the day I was really enjoying the big sweeping bends of Donington.
Sunday was to be three non-championship races, with grids drawn out of a hat for race 1, race 2 being based on the results of race 1, then the grand finale which would be a reverse grid! All the fast guys at the back!
The races on Sunday were just such good fun! With the the topsy turvy grids there was plenty of passing and it was great fun. It was great to see orange Fast Scooter T-Shirts in the grandstands, and all those faces appearing at the pit wall to watch all the starts.
It was simply a brilliant weekend. I had been very stressed with the organisational side of things..... but yep...... it had just all gone brilliantly. The atmosphere was great all around and it was just a unique weekend.
At the end of the day we had a presentation and trophy awards which went down well. I left Donington Park a very tired, but very happy man!
We'd pulled off an amazing weekend. 6 races in front of thousands of spectators who got to see some brilliant scooter racing. We were a support race for the British truck racing championship, and pulled off an unprecedented style of meeting that will be remembered and talked about for a long time.