Having to be at scrutineering for 7.30am saw the gang sitting down for breakfast at 6.00am. Staring at their fried breakfast wondering how on earth they’d manage to eat it… However, the bulldog spirit prevailed and with breakfast tucked away, we arrived at the circuit with time to spare before the car was given its ticket by the scruntineer.
The qualification session was at 9.00am.The weather was clear and cool. Karen was happy to go out mid-field for the qualifying session, as she needed to be re-acquainted with the circuit. Everyone had already been warned about a trough dug out of the ground beyond the kerbing at the exit of the Esses. Karen was mindful of this and managed to avoid any issues there.
Throughout qualifying, Karen found the car a little twitchy, starting with understeer the car would adopt four wheel drifts in some of the corners. This was especially prevalent at Sears, where Karen found herself using more of the tarmac beyond the white line than she thought ideal. However, it was a good performance and she seemed to show good pace through Coram Curve and into Russell Bend from our vantage point. She qualified 17th for Race 1 and 15th for Race 2.
Race 1 began slightly ahead of schedule at about 1.00pm. Karen had a decent chance at taking Brian Gatt #47 before the first corner, but he soon realised this and moved to protect his line and Karen yielded to avoid contention into the corner. As she braked for the 2nd corner Sears, She was struck from behind by Steve Woolfe #88 who had braked too hard and late and had locked up. The result of this was a loss of throttle through the corner which saw the field ahead drive away from them, and some cars behind taking the opportunity to overtake.
Having been slightly rattled, Karen was trying hard to catch up and in this effort she cut the apex of the Esses a bit too late and span out on the kerb. Disappointed and rather irked, she finished in 21st place ahead of the final finisher, Kif Hopkins #79.
Before the 2nd race, we added a few extra PSI to the tyres, as Karen was still complaining about a lack of grip. It was of course possible that she was still suffering the affects of the oil on her tyres from the previous round at Mallory…
Race 2 began with Neil Glynn’s car toward the head of the field failing to move. This caused a bit of panic as cars drove either side to avoid a collision as yellow flags were being waved furiously. Karen felt she was down on straight line power, with other cars overtaking her along the Revett Straight with comparative ease. Within a couple of laps she was towards the back of the field, and she made a mistake at Russell Bend when being harried by Ady Stimpson who was trying to regain places after an earlier spin. She cut straight across the second apex and had to go very wide over the outside kerb and grass before rejoining the circuit.
A couple of laps later a similar incident occurred where she was being closely followed by Hugh Gilmour #98. Karen span exiting Russell Bend, and Hugh did well to avoid her. Thus Karen was now last, and spent the remainder of the race on her own except for being lapped by some of the front-runners. She trailed home 21st, annoyed at her own performance and that of the car.
Despite this seemingly poor performance it was enough to ensure that in the post-race presentation, Karen was awarded a trophy for being the runner-up in the Ladies Championship. She was surprised and a little embarrassed by the applause as she accepted her trophy. Congratulations, Karen!