What a fantastic weekend I have just had in Devon. Two one-day events, back to back, organised super efficiently as usual by the Woolbridge Motor Club with results on their website and in my inbox even before I got home. Well done Pam!
Both events were part of the HSA championship and there was a good turnout from the MX-5 camp, though unfortunately last year’s HSA Champion, Tony Thomas, had to miss the event (as he had to miss Shelsley) due to his father being ill. Nevertheless there were five HSA Mx-5 drivers – myself, Nick Mugglestone and Nigel Hodson from class A2.1, Alan Mugglestone from class A2 and Paul Webster in Stripey in Class C2 (Modified Production). We were joined on the Saturday by Dennis Cooper, whom we met at Werrington recently, in his 1600cc Mk1 (like mine) and Bryan Hope from nearby Seaton in his 1800cc Mk 1 in which he was particularly fast. Dennis belongs to the BDMC and Bryan the Woolbridge club.
The HSA MX-5 (A2.1) class record was 53.20 secs and was set in 2008 by David Jones. I came to Wiscombe last year with Tony Thomas and neither of us could crack it then, but on Saturday in my final run I sliced 7/100ths off it. As usual the MX-5 field contained a wide variety of cars developed to different degrees and complying to various regulations. Alan and Paul were streets ahead with sub 49 second times but for the first time I seemed to be ahead of Nick throughout the day and thought it just might be the day when I could beat him (though Nigel was slightly faster than both of us in the first three runs). When I saw the time for my final time was 53.13 I thought I had done it, but Nick finally got it right and knocked over a second off that time recording a 52.05 and Nigel must have a bit peeved as his final run was one hundredths slower than his third at 53.36. Still it was a good result for Nick and I as we both scored 12 points for beating the previous class record and he got five and I a four for class position.
On Sunday we returned to do battle. Well, I returned as I had stayed at friends in nearby Whimple but others like Dennis and Paul slept in the back of their vans. I was determined to beat Nick’s new class record and I walked up the hill first thing looking at every corner and wondering where I could save time.
Anyway, my first run of the day was certainly the most pleasurable (though not the fastest). I got out at the top and went over to watch the others coming around Martini when Fran Montignani ran over to me a gave me a hug. She had come to support Tim Rees (who, I discover, is [amongst other things] a singer – hear this). I do like it when Tim Rees competes! We need a little glamour in the paddock – though from what I gather Fran has ambitions behind the wheel too. Where am I going with this? Back to the plot – that first run was a 57.95 – completely off the pace, but I had been experimenting with different gears, lower tyre pressures and different lines so wasn’t unduly concerned.
Tim had competed at Wiscombe the previous weekend and had beaten my 2010 time (54.63) by over 4 tenths in his very standard looking Mk2 1800. I can see he’s struggling to decide whether to start modifying it or not. It’s an immaculate car that he uses every day and to butcher it for the sake of tenths of seconds on the odd weekend may not make much sense, but it’s like a drug and I think he’s hooked so it will be interesting to see what he decides.
Wiscombe Park is a beautiful place – the hill being the drive to a country house which is set in its own park and I just love the names of the various course features. From the start you head briefly downhill and over a little stone bridge, turn left at Wis Corner head up Wis Straight over Bunny’s Leap through the Gate by the huge Rhododendron bush, up through Esses One and Esses Two under the trees, around Sawbench hairpin (on which I spun on the Saturday) along Castle Straight and around the incredibly steep and tight Martini hairpin to the finish.
After lunch I put in a great run and got the class record off Nick with a time of 51.81, as although he improved his Saturday’s time he only managed a 52.04. I was delighted with my time as I knew it had not been an ‘easy’ record to beat. Paul was also pretty pleased as he recorded a 47.83 beating not only Alan (admittedly in a different class) but the previous HSA C2 class record set by Simon Andrews in his MGTF Cup.
Other HSA people at Wiscombe that I knew were Fyrth Crosse in his immaculate and historic Formula 3 Ensign and Jonathan Plowe in his classic Gilbern. When Jonathan saw my time he said it spurred him on to be a little braver through the Esses and he was rewarded with a 50.29 which now stands as the Class V record.
I arrived at Wiscombe on Sunday with no paraphernalia – no tools, no clothes, no food – as I needed to leave the place immediatley after my fourth run and drive back to Staffordshire rather than return down the hill and have to wait till the end of the meeting. So after my fourth run I got out and looked at the paper printout at Martini. 53 seconds! I couldn’t understand why as it all felt pretty hectic and brave to me, but sometimes those ragged runs are slower than smoother ones so I accepted it. Another driver looking over my shoulder was saying something about his time being missing, but then I saw Nick coming up the hill and heard his time over the Tannoy – 50.72. Well, we’d both beaten his Saturday class record but once again he’d got the points and the class record. Still I was very pleased with my performance and when I got home (three hours more driving in that little MX-5!) there were the results on the website – there had been a mistake on the paper printout and my final time was 51.39. Still second but another PB.
Dennis also had a good weekend, finally getting below 54 (it was his Joker’s round in his championship so I think good points for him), Alan finished with a best of 49.37, which is still a little off Matt Carter’s S2000 time of 48.52 – but he is in an MX-5! Paul, as mentioned, got his class record, Bryan put in a 51.79 in his standard looking car which is pretty amazing, Nigel improved all weekend and almost cracked the 53 second barrier (he got 53.01) and Tim must be pleased with his 53.58 in the car he goes to work in.
And that’s it until the next time. I guess we’re all looking at how we can improve things – for me it’s working out how to get cold air into my induction system without falling foul of the eligibility scrutineer.
Oh, one last thing – as I was psyching myself up for my final run – helmet on, strapped in etc, when I saw I was not alone. A bee was buzzing about in the back of the car. I’m not freaked about bees or wasps but I thought it might be a bit of a distraction through the Esses if it decided to take a wander up to the front so I got out and was trying to shoo it out when a couple with a little dog came by and took over. They got rid of the bee and said they read this blog and are thinking of competing themselves. I was a bit rushed so couldn’t stop and chat and never came back down the hill. If you’re reading this, thanks for your help – drop us an email – bobjacqs[AT]yahoo.com
Lots more photos on my Facebook site – here.