Toby Goodman who we sponsor in the Cooper Pro class in the MINI Challenge, had a very exciting weekend!
I asked Toby his thoughts of the weekend..
Friday Testing – Yet another wet test day started the weekend off. However, unlike the others, this one offered very useful practise for the two race days which, we had been assured, were going to be very much wet as well. With this in mind we spent the day testing the cross over points for tyres and getting to grips with the greasy conditions. A successful day, and we were looking good for the races!
Saturday –Qualifying was dry! And very cold. This created a very tricky situation for us drivers, as none of us had any testing the day before in dry conditions. After putting new tyres on, I headed out, conscious of the challenge ahead. Surprisingly, throughout the session I began to struggle with understeer, which is a rare occurrence with new tyres, however I managed to put in what felt like a decent lap to end the session. P5 was the end result and three tenths of pole. Post session we found the cause of the understeer, turns out the front tyres never got into their working temperature and pressure window due to the cold temperatures. Not a bad result given the circumstances and all to play for in the race!
The lights went out and we headed into a dry turn one for the first race of the weekend! After a couple laps, I managed to gain a position, then gain another two with some late braking to put me up to P2 and with 10 minutes left of the race. All was looking good as I closed the gap to P1. We entered the second half of the race separated by a hair width and the race was really heating up as I began to look for a way past. Then, within a fraction of a second, I lost all power unexpectedly and the engine went into “limp home mode”. After a few seconds of confusion, I restarted the car, and the power returned. Unfortunately, I had now dropped to P6, but with a substantial amount of time left of the race, I got my head down. As we entered the closing stages of the race, I sat P5 after a move on 6th and was right behind the fight for 3rd. It was great racing and, after going 3 wide into a few corners, I crossed the finish line in 3rd position! Great result given out mechanical mishaps, and two more races to go!
Sunday – The rain had arrived! However, it chose to do so while we were all on the grid ready to race……. on dry tyres. Contrary to the race prior, we headed into turn one very gingerly and hoping the rain would hold off. It didn’t. After a couple laps to get used to the conditions, I had moved up to 2nd place and, with a move round the outside, gained the lead going into the second half of the race. It was now all about keeping it on track, which I managed to do…. Just! However, the keener eyed of us drivers saw the massive black cloud heading our way, and chose to put on wet tyres at the start of the race. This was the correct choice. And those who did so came storming through the field and were right on my bumper going into the last lap. After some very near misses with the grass, and some slight moments of sideways action, I crossed the finish line in 1st place. Great race once again, and another wet one was on the cards for Race 3!
This time we were on wet tyres, and headed into turn one slightly less gingerly than the race prior. I had a great start, and was into second position by the end of the third lap. 1st place was driving brilliantly however, and it took me some time to close the gap. Once I did so, I saw a gap and made a move down the inside. This however created a difficult situation, as they now had the benefit of the increased grip on the outside of the corner that is present in wet conditions. After getting the move done initially, they came back round the outside and our paths met, with contact made. Unfortunately, in these conditions any slight contact can be disastrous and the contact was enough to send them into a spin. I gained the lead, but not through the way I would have liked. On a positive note, I managed to pull a gap to second place and maintained it, to bring the car home to take another win. A slightly scruffy performance on my behalf, and a shame the lead was taken through contact, regardless if it was a racing incident.
All in all, a great weekend! 2/3 wins and 3/3 podiums has given us a nice haul of points going into the last round of the championship. Nothing to lose! All to play for!
Well done Toby for another successful weekend – next stop Snetterton!