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Old 30-08-17, 10:20
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grahamb grahamb is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Fordshire
Posts: 4,154
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BSC Knockhill Rounds 11 and 12

The last two rounds of my British Sprint Championship season, culminated with a visit to the famous Knockhill Circuit, sat just north of Edinburgh. I’d never been before, but had spent many years watching the British touring cars there on the TV, and Knockhill was one of those tracks that I just had to tick off my list. Arriving late on Friday afternoon, the weather travelling up the M6 had been gradually deteriorating, and I just managed to unload the car in to the garages before the heavens opened. It then rained throughout the night, and on Friday evening we were kept entertained by some crazy motorcyclists who were getting the laps in on the end of a very wet track day for them.

Saturday morning dawned foggy, but soon cleared, and we were meant to be out at 8:30 for first practice. Driving the circuit in an anti-clockwise direction, Knockhill is the only circuit in the UK licensed to allow racing in either direction. I fitted Dunlop wets, as there was a lot of surface water left from the overnight rain, and we waited patiently for the Doctor to arrive, as the event couldn’t start without one in attendance. 15 minutes later, and we were off, and Stewart Robb, in his 4.0 Judd powered Pilbeam MP88, ventured out on slick tyres, and fell off on his second lap, hitting the tyre wall backwards at Clarkes, and breaking his rear wing and front suspension.

As a former multiple champion, I was hoping to see Stewart set some fast times, but his mistake in practice meant he was out for the rest of the weekend. That delayed proceedings by 15 minutes. Then Stephen Miles fell off, also on slicks, and needed a tow out of the gravel trap. In all, with all the issues with people stalling on the line, and the driver change-overs, embarrassingly our half hour slot soon turned in to 1 hour, and the Super Lap Scotland competitors sat patiently as they were all held in the assembly area for over half an hour.

Then second practice, and the track was drying out, I again went out on wets, and just drove the circuit, trying to learn the braking points, and deciding where to turn in on the many blind crests.

First timed runs were at 1pm and everyone was once again improving, now on slicks, with a dry circuit. Second timed runs, again, smooth as clockwork, and further improvements in times. With the traction control now turned off, I’d qualified 7th for the Top 12 run-offs, and I posted my quickest time of the day on my 2nd run-off run, with a 98.13s time, which I was quite happy with. Thus I remained in 7th place, and scored 6 points.

Winning the run-offs, Thurso’s Heather Calder went round in 81.85 seconds in the powerful V8 Gould GR55, which weighs the same as my Formula Ford, yet has over double the horsepower! With her win, Heather became the British Sprint Champion, and what a champion? only the second woman to win since Patsy Burt won on its inauguration in 1970. I can see Heather going on to win it many more times too. Colin Calder was 2nd with 82.98s, and John Graham in the V8 Gould GR55B was almost 3s behind with a best time of 85.86s

Sunday was basically a repeat of the Saturday, with a dry track, this time circulating the track clockwise, I had to again learn the circuit from scratch, and after practice, in the timed runs I qualified 9th for the Top 12 run-offs, and again, improved, to set my fastest time on my 2nd run-off run, with a 99.64s time, and a flying lap time of 51.27s. [ Basically I’d gone a second faster on each run, recording 101.85s, 100.70s, and finally a 99.64s, so another 3 or 4 runs and I think I could have been challenging for 8th place ]

Heather was again on form, and on her second run-off run, which was far quicker than her first run, as she approached the hairpin for the final time, the Gould slowed to a stop, and Heather hopped out. It turned out to be loose cable, that prevented her from changing gear, and that had put paid to Heather’s hope to lower the circuit record even further. Colin Calder took first place with a 83.70s run, Heather was 2nd with 84.22 from her first run-off run, and John Graham was 6.5s behind with 90.78s.

Over the weekend, several drivers went on to set new class records, and everyone seemed to be making good progress, though some were chasing personal bests they’d set in previous visits and weren’t getting anywhere near them, much to their frustration. The V8’s dominated as usual, and it was a shame Stewart Robb wasn’t around as it would have been a good scrap between him and the Calder’s on both days.

So for me a very exciting weekend, I completed 24 laps of the track, in near perfect weather conditions, with no mechanical issues, I didn’t need to take a spanner to the car for the entire weekend. This year I’ve finished 13th overall in the BSC championship, and I’ve learnt a lot about myself and the car. I’ve just two more National B events to go. I’m back visiting Aintree this weekend and then MIRA (Nuneaton) the following, where I’ll be putting what I’ve learnt to practice.

Sadly the new aero never made it on to the car in 2017, I’ve just run out of time getting it fitted, and will spend the winter months making sure that the car (and driver) are even quicker for 2018.

Look for the tag #britishsprintchampionship on social media for photo’s and videos of the weekend
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