It had been decided that a day's practice would be useful for Karen. So we trundled down to Pembrey on the Thursday night, ready for a full day's practice on Friday 14th July. The practice sessions saw the MR2C cars lobbed in with the 750MC Bikesport cars which are kit-cars powered by motorbike engines. Poor Karen felt a little overwhelmed by these things buzzing past her on both sides and found it difficult to string together any decent laps.
However, it was good experience and her lap times improved. It also gave us a chance to bed in some new brake pads and to experiment with tyre pressures. Karen did actually spin twice, but that's not bad for a whole day and in very hot conditions. That's also the first time she's ever spun the car on track. Luckilly, that didn't re-occurr during the races!
Qualification on Saturday morning saw Karen's lap times improve dramatically again. This was due to a combination of both a clearer track and the proximity of other MR2C cars which she could either chase, or who more or less pushed her from behind. This resulted in Karen qualifying 16th out of 19 for Race 1, and 18th out of 19 for Race 2.
Race 1 was held up for a while by the clear-up from the preceeding race. This meant the drivers were held in their cars in all their gear for 35 minutes in the baking heat! Having overcome that hurdle, the next was their race start and run down to the Hatchett Hairpin. Luckilly there was no real damage done and all cars made it through. Most of Karen's race was spent trying to pass Clive Morphett's MK2 car. Clive was quicker on the straights, but was harried by Karen in many of the corners. Whilst this was going on, David Oldroyd the race leader was beginning to lap slower cars. As he drove through their group, Karen used the opportunity to nip into his wake and overtook Clive! Unfortunately, Clive later had to retire before the end of the race due to overheating.
Karen finished ahead of Daniel Gatt and they both had a light-hearted natter afterwards about the racing, and how things may be different in Race 2 on Sunday.
Race 2 was held on Sunday afternoon, on another scorching hot day. Once again all cars made it through the hairpin at the start and this time Karen was fighting Daniel hard. We watched in amazement as for about 5 laps Karen would be ahead of Daniel through most of the lap until the drag into Hatchett Hairpin when Daniel would nip inside Karen to take the racing line. Karen would proceed to drive around Daniel and beat him out of the corner to be ahead! Eventually though, Daniel's seeming greater straight line speed ensured she couldn't get past. In the meantime, Daniel's brother Brian had spun out several times and finished behind them. Poor Clive had to retire before the finish again.
So Karen had great battles during her races and had a thoroughly good time. It was great to meet Clive Morphett (previously racing in karts) and Tim Cartledge from Kingston University. It was Tim's first full motor race (Other than his karting) and he had fantastic results, placing 10th in Race 1 and 15th in Race 2. Brake fade seemed to be Tim's only problem and when that's overcome he's going to be a force to be reckoned with.
It look's like we won't be going to the Brands Hatch meet on August 11th, so good luck to everyone and hope to see you at Mallory Park on August 28th.