Sporting a few new stripes and some new Shield stickers on the side the golf, I was eager to get out on the track and show off our new colour scheme. When the news came in that the country was going into level 3 lock down there was a strong possibility that the event could have possibly been cancelled a day or two prior to the event. Fortunately, we received news on the Wednesday that the event could be run, under strict protocols. With Gauteng flagged as a major hot spot, a number participants decided to withdraw, which is totally understandable.
Considering the above, and not having to travel up from the coast or abroad as this event attracts a number of international participants, I still decided to race and maintain the necessary social distancing and event regulations which are strictly monitored .
Racing under these conditions, as you will appreciate, takes a little bit of the buzz out the day as the socialising and fan fair, besides bantering and “how fast we once were” stories amongst the drivers after few cold beers really adds to the overall enjoyment of day .
Qualifying was Friday late afternoon for us, being a 3 day jammed back event which incorporated a Sprint race around midday and then a 40 min endurance race which would see us running into the dark ( this was something totally new to the series ) and meant I needed to fit some spots.
Qualifying went well and I managed a 1:14,1 which was good enough for 6th on the grid in 111 and first in ClassB .
Lining up in pre-race paddock, as per normal, I was filled with butterflies whilst waiting for the whistle to blow indicating that the gates are now open, and we can make our way onto the track to warm up the tyres and get in to position for thee rolling start behind the safety car. Once you get onto track the butterflies disappear and the adrenaline kicks ensuring that you are totally focused on getting into position and ready the for the start which is manic. With the flashing lights the pace car following its sighting lap heads around once more at a pace before pulling into the pit lane which now means the front GT car is control of the start and before you can blink the race is on. Typically, around midday the temperatures in winter are in the mid-20s but with a cool nip in the air they were hovering around 15 degrees, which joyfully meant more horsepower. Running a normally aspirated against some of the turbo’s engines every little bit extra power helps and managed to dip into the mid 1;13 ‘s which has been best for the year and helped me to convincingly win Class B in the sprint which made the teams day, as we had put a lot of work into the preparation of the car.
Heat 2 or the 40 min Mini Endurance which incorporated the Super Hatch series into the event was something new and being run in the dark created much excitement the drivers. A few years back I raced in the SAE SOUTH AFRICAN ENDURANCE SERIES and this experience I new would come in handy as we ran into the night on these races.
After a long day of waiting from midday to around 6pm, you can imagine the start of the race could not have come sooner with the coldness of winter creeping through your race suite. We all just wanted to get going. Finally, the time has come and with 35 cars in the mix this was going to be interesting especially being slap bang in the middle of the field as classes were now combined with a rolling start, no compulsory pit stops and with ¾ tanks of fuel and cold tyres the first couple of laps are normally chaos. No truer words had been spoken as on end of lap 1 of the race I managed to spin coming into turn 8 to start lap 2 and faced the frightening site of 2O cars headlights all aiming at me. I cannot express to everyone how incredibly lucky I was that every car managed to miss me and frankly had braised myself for a nasty situation. Big thanks to the marshals on the corner who did the utmost to flag the field down. I was lucky to restart and get back on track in the right direction stone last but gratefully still in one piece. I never really got back into race pace as was a little hesitant to push the limit as would not be able to close the gap to the leader and just wanted to ensure I crossed the finish line in reasonable and gathered some points. Fortunately, the car was reliable and, in an Endurance, as in night racing you need to finish to win. Luck was on my side a number of cars competing Class B ended up have some trouble of sort and managed to end up top of class for the day.
Father’s Day Surprise.
Having had the same helmet for several years and with new regulations in certain race series regarding dates and levels of protection I was forced to looking at getting a new lid (helmet).
I would like to thank Jen and the kids who treated me to a wrap which they presented to me on Father’s Day. I think it looks absolutely awesome… even if I don’t go faster at least I’ll look the part.
Love you guys and big thanks.