Race Report Silverstone
Wet, Wet, Wet
Time to catch up with our resident club racer Paul Cowland from his latest bouts of derring-do at Silverstone… in one of the wettest meetings on record!
All participants know that British club motorsport can entail the odd light shower throughout the season, but for the plucky PGTI team on our annual outing to Silverstone, jokes of ‘Noah on pole’ might perhaps tell you how wet it all was. Well, that and the pictures of course…
Thankfully, due to a surplus of driving talent, the surprisingly impressive wet grip of the Toyo R888’s and a Dunkirk spirit that wouldn’t look out of place in classic war movie, the contenders went into battle high in spirits – and low in damping rates.
It was to be an interesting meeting, with the biblically wet conditions seeing many previously unsung heroes taking their chance to shine, and allowing their car control to take them to a higher grid position than they would normally achieve in the dry. Many superstars of the GTI world would struggle.. and many new faces would rise to the top of the time sheets. Funny what a bit of water can do, isn’t it?
Despite the damp, Qualifying was to be an impressively tight affair, with John Mawdsley, Paul Blackburn and Tim Hartland split by only 8/10ths of a second in the top three slots. Previous pole sitter Simon Gusterson was going well, but languished back in 6th, whilst the usually uber-fast No.1 car of defending champion Simon Hill was to be found back in 9th!
Craig Roberts was keeping 8 valve honours high, with a useful 12th overall and class lead, followed by the ever-rapid Dean Clayton and then yours truly, who was fining the conditions very much to my liking!
To say Race 1 was eventful is a bit like saying Scarlett Johansson is relatively easy on the eye. For one of the most cleanly-contested racing series out there, it was most unusual to witness cars spinning off left right and centre in conditions so bad, even experienced drivers were leaving the track unceremoniously… on the straights!
It’s fair to say that almost everyone in the race took the lead at one point, in a battle that saw cars swapping positions like a rather damp game leapfrog on every single lap. Paul Blackburn made a good start and led for the first few laps, before Mawdsley got a small and unintentional tap from Gusterson, spinning him off the track and out of contention. He got back onto the track in a valiant effort to catch up, but the deficit was simply too great. As for me, my little 8 valve made it up to 9th overall at one point, splitting the usually faster 16 valve machines. Must be those new wheels of mine, eh?
Title sponsor Chris Webb enjoyed his ‘moment in the sun’, so to speak, as he inherited the lead on Lap 8… only to spin off and gift it away on Lap 11! It was one of those races, really! Ultimately it would be a Chris Sanders, Simon Hill and Martyn Walsh overall podium with Roberts, then me and Clayton doing the 8v honours after he came off the track, and couldn’t make up the time to catch me up. 2nd in class will do nicely, thanks very much!
Race 2 was to thankfully be a more conventional affair, with a drying track and far less flying cars! I kept my head down to drive a neat, tidy and relatively easy race to end up with yet another class podium and 3rd place. All good!
The good news is, I reckon I should have my race boots and overalls dried out for Donington on the 18th and 19th October! I can’t wait!