croftWe set off for the far horizons of Croft circuit a few weeks ago. This was the first visit of the 750 club to the circuit and, after the welcome that we had, I’m sure we’ll be back. Some of the circuit staff regulars were commenting that they were unused to having to grid up a full grid of cars. Apparently a meeting the week before had had two races with only four cars on the grid. That’s just bonkers, we wouldn’t have run the race as the club would lose a lot of money.

A sunny day for a drive in the country
A sunny day for a drive in the country

As you can tell from the layout the circuit is (yet another) old airfield. But now one of the runways is used as the paddock and the other is the start/finish straight.

For the weekend of the racing I’d booked the test day and we set off earlyish on the Thursday so as to arrive to set up and go to bed before the test day on the Friday. The weather forecast looked OK, although there was some rain forecast for later in the weekend. As it turned out, though, all the rain appeared overnight and all the track sessions were unaffected.

There were four sessions on the test day, not ideal really. It was fairly clear right from the start that my modifications of the suspension, in particular that affecting the front anti-roll bar rate, had had a major impact. The car was now actually turning in. So, it looks as though the process of losing the proboscis on the nose was working out.

I also had a new toy  to play with. My old data logger had actually failed at Brands and I decided that it was time to treat myself to a new one, as the old one was over 10 years old and there are new features. In particular, the new DL1s have the ability to display a live lap delta so that you can see that a current lap is, say, half a second up on the previously best lap. Mind you, I spend most the weekend actually making this facility work so I didn’t actually get to use it. However, I’m now set fair for the next races.

The biggest issue of the test day was making the car ride the bumps. Some parts of this circuit were incredibly bumpy and the car, in the state it had left Brands, was just skittering over the top of them and not really being able to accelerate or brake too much in the process. I was getting somewhere, though, in making the car handle the bumps. In fact I went quicker in every single track session over the weekend than I’d done in the previous session. To be honest, it really needed rather more testing, as you can probably tell in the videos that are further down this post. The biggest problem with the test day, though, as that there are far too little track time. Far too many drivers


seemed to be of the view that the way to get up to speed was to hurl the car at the scenery and not worry about the immediate red flags.

Anyway, to race day and it was time for qualifying. To be honest this was pretty much a disaster. In a similar manner to the test day the session was marred by a red flag and the consequential clear up time. I managed the grand total of 5 laps at anything like race speed and none of those was unencumbered with traffic. As such, I ended up with a best lap time of 1:30.96 and start positions of 12th and 10th for the two races. Given that I’d put the decent tyres on for qualifying that was a bit of a disappointment.

All the same, we lined up later for race 1. I was on the left hand side of the grid and had an appealing gap in front of me between Dan and the wall. As it turned out I managed a half decent start and shoved the car into that gap. Luckily Dan didn’t decide to go that way too and we all came out of the first corner melee in one piece. However, I was behind Austen and there then started several laps of me making a hash of

In the assembly area
In the assembly area

overtaking and Austen defending stoically. In a couple of laps, though, I decided that I was just going to go through into Sunny 1 and, luckily, that coincided with Austen making a pig’s ear of his braking. With that I was past and had an alarmingly clear track in  front of me. In the distance I could see David and it was pleasing to see that I was slowly catching him up. If I’d had another hour or so I’d have probably made it but, of course, I didn’t. I was a lot closer though. According to the results sheets when I got past Austen I was 3.3 seconds behind David. (It seemed more than that, but I guess that’s the time dilation that all race drivers suffer from.) At the end it was 1.7 seconds… Fastest last was 1:30.39; better than qualifying but way away from the front runners.

Here’s the video. I’ve cut a big chunk out of the middle of this where I was just chasing after David… By the way, the GPS seemed to be having a bit of a fit at this meeting so the speed and gear display is not as consistent as I’d like…

I finished that race in 7th place. Not wonderful but not awful either. And so to bed…

A busy start
A busy start

We were racing just after lunch on this Sunday; a good time as it’d make it possible to actually get home. We had enquired about staying at the circuit overnight but it turned out that there wasn’t going to be anyone there, it being a bank holiday…

So, it was back to the race again. This time I made a pretty pathetic start and allowed all sorts of people to get in front of me. I then ended up in a bit of a battle with Dan, Colin S and Steve Moody. As usual Colin was racing robustly and was making it (perfectly fairly) tough on the rest of us. After a while Olly appeared. He’d started at the back on account of not getting two practice times in in qualifying (see comment earlier about red flags) and was on a bit of a mission. After a while he tangled with Dan at Tower and Dan spun out meaning that I managed to get past both Dan and Colin. After that, to be honest, not too much happened. Here’s the video:

I finished in 8th place; again OK but not great. Best bit was that after three days of trying and an interminable number of red flags and various other incidents, I’d finally got below 1:30…

There’s a big gap now before the next race. I’m not totally sure what I’m going to do…

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