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N/B
20-03-2011, 04:07 PM
Race One completed!

What an AMAZING day out!!! :D :D :D
Perfect weather, freakishly sunny and warm for Norfolk in March. I'm still buzzing, yesterday was really exciting.

'Twas the inaugural race day for the revised Snetterton '300' layout, so MSV had Mr Jack Sears on ribbon-cutting duty. He would later be forced into the driving seat of a BMW X6 (wtf?) for a parade lap.

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There were other races going on (Lotus & BMW marque series, and some monoposto gubbins) but I pitched up for about 10:45am just in time to catch the Trackday Trophy cars & teams heading to the holding pen for Qualifying at 11:25am.
After scouting around to find the participating Northloopers, I headed over the exit of Nelson (formerly 'The Esses' ?) to set up my camera with a long lens.
Still learning to pan tbh, and 200mm isn't long enough!

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The 30 minute Qualifying session seemed endless as the cars pounded round again and again, visibly quickening as their tyres got the heat into them.
Some really brave overtakes going on (remember that every team has at least one total Race Novice) and many closely-matched machines.

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John's Clio (#56) was flying, despite him later reporting masses of understeer in some corners and downright scary oversteer at 110mph into Riches.
A decision would later be made by Sean The Engineer to raise the rear end (pitching the car's weight forwards) and re-adjust the brake bias.
The good news was that the Yokohama A048R tyres were wearing perfectly.
Lap after lap in Quali, John battled with the fastest cars (two M3s and another Clio Cup racer) and brought it home on P2! :D Front row of the grid! Major cheers from us!

Post-Quali back in the paddock, the excitement was getting more and more intense, with a few arguments breaking out and a lot of feverish spannering.
Spectators were loving the weather, but something told me the Engineers weren't. Drivers seemed pretty chilled out though!

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We decided to bugger off for a sandwich whilst John and his coach Danny looked through his telemetry and talked tactics. Suspension and brakes sorted, John and Sean discussed fuel loads.
The Clio doesn't have a swirl pot, baffled tank or any race-specific fuel system - it's just like the road-going Clio in that respect, so it was time to do some maths to avoid fuel surge / cut in the what would be the closing laps of the 45-minute race.
The car has to be over-fuelled basically, otherwise it would suffer starvation through the longer fast bends as the tank emptied.

All prepped, they rolled back down to the pen to assemble for the race.
The atmosphere at this point was electric, the Drivers appeared to be really charged-up and excited, the vast majority of the starting grid being the Novice drivers.
I headed to the bottom end of the Senna straight to catch the cars exiting the tricky left-hander (Murrays) at the end of the enormous Coram curve, with John's other half Lisa.

Race underway!
From our viewing point we not only had a great view, but a crystal-clear reception of the commentary over the Tannoy, and it was fantastic to hear the drivers being talked about in such detail, considering their total lack of race history.
The Commentator was fantastic throughout, never once going off on a tangent - totally on it.
By the end of Lap 1, John had taken the lead and it was so good to see him lead the field through Coram and back onto the Senna straight!

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The #24 BMW M3 had started from Pole and was never far from John's bumpers, swapping positions with him often for the first few laps.

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The race, like the tyres, hotted right up - Drivers were clearly shedding their few remaining fears by now and the fantastic commentary was adding to the electric atmosphere.

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John lost and regained the lead now and again, but remained within 3 or so seconds of #24 with few errors. Then it came over the Tannoy that both #24 and John had gone off at the same spot on the track.
Lisa and I were panicking, thinking they'd perhaps taken each other out, but all was well and both cars scrambled back on track and quickly regained their positions.

Shortly afterwards (I think?) it was time for the Pit Stops to commence.
Mr Commentator joked that since they were all absolute beginners, all 45 or so cars might foolishly attempt to Pit at the same time into a Pit Lane equipped with about 25 garages.
They pretty much did. :lol:
John had come to an agreement some weeks earlier with his race partner Danny Buxton ('http://www.btccpages.com/drivers/Daniel-Buxton/') that John would not share the driving with him after all, and in fact do the entire series alone as a Novice.
In the Pit Stop (required mainly for Driver Changes), the lone Novice must undo their harnesses, exit the car, wait as long as the other two-driver teams (plus 15 seconds iirc), get back in the car, clunk-click and go.
Listening on the Tannoy, the Pit Stops were even more tense then the lapping!
No major dramas there though, the front-runners soon regained their positions and for the remainder of the race the Clio jostled for Podium steps with the two BMW M3s that had been setting the timing boards alight (#24 and the ever-quickening #77).

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Tommy and Chris (drivers of car #77) had driven their socks off and were now sure to bag P2.
With a few minutes racing left, Lisa and I were sure John still had a place on the Podium, so we headed up towards the other end of the Pit Lane to greet the Drivers as they finished.
Unfortunately this meant that we missed John having what he later described as a 'total f**king tankslapper' heading out of Coram into Murray's on his penultimate lap!

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However, a podium was certain to be his, and he romped home just 5 seconds short of the winner (#24), coming 2nd in Class and 3rd Overall! :D
Danny was beaming, really proud of the consistency and tenacity John had shown in the car. Sean The Engineer then cheekily reminded us all that races were won in the workshop… :P

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Lisa and I were waiting with cameras and a bottle of Buckfast (naturally, as John hails from Glasgow!) and the Podium celebrations began.
Great to see Tommy & Chris up there too!
My camera got covered in fizz, but thankfully still worked…

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A great end to a thrilling day! :D

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Can't wait for Race 2 at Cadwell Park in May!

Simon
20-03-2011, 06:43 PM
Originally posted by Neil C@Mar 20 2011, 05:21 PM
Nice write up :thumb:
+1 :D

Nige
20-03-2011, 07:15 PM
Enjoyed reading that :thumb:

leeman
20-03-2011, 08:35 PM
Great write up and photos Neil :thumb:

Screacher
20-03-2011, 08:37 PM
Originally posted by Nige@Mar 20 2011, 08:15 PM
Enjoyed reading that :thumb:
+1 :veryhappy:

Dan
21-03-2011, 08:21 AM
Originally posted by Nige@Mar 20 2011, 08:15 PM
Enjoyed reading that :thumb:
Me too :thumb:

N/B
21-03-2011, 08:24 AM
Cheers lads!
After reading Tommy's account (great to meet you, fella) I'm thinking John's off might have occurred after the Pit Stop - tbh I can't remember, the Race flew by a lot quicker than Quali!

The GF's parents live not far from Cadwell so we're gonna make a weekend of that one and maybe get her nephew down. I've never been there either, so pretty excited.

pye21
21-03-2011, 09:43 AM
Good writeup that Neil, some nice pics as well :thumb:

Im going to try and make some of this series, but doubt i will make it over to Cadwell.

Jim Cameron
27-03-2011, 09:59 AM
Originally posted by N/B@Mar 21 2011, 09:24 AM
The GF's parents live not far from Cadwell so we're gonna make a weekend of that one and maybe get her nephew down. I've never been there either, so pretty excited.
I'll be there in the 993, be good to meet you Neil :thumb: