Race Report: Mallory Park 24th June

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Photograph copyright James Merrett, reproduced with kind permission.


Mallory Park in Leicestershire was the venue for the 3rd meeting in the MR2 Challenge calendar. Dark heavy clouds were hanging ominously overhead as Karen’s entourage arrived at the circuit.

The race car was unloaded from the trailer and immediately given its first wash since having the new front body panels fitted after the damage received at Cadwell in the previous meeting. Shortly afterwards it was straight into scrutineering where Karen was asked to demonstrate the electrical cut-out, and luckily Richard had spent a fair few hours the previous weekend getting it to work correctly after some recent difficulties. The car passed with flying colours.

The qualifying session was due not long after, by which time the rain was coming down fairly steadily. There was a growing patch of standing water towards the exit of Gerrards and the surface on the exit of the Shaws hairpin was rather slick under power but otherwise the grip levels seemed fine. Karen felt her performance was pretty good considering the conditions and the fact that she kept in touch with Rob Howes #7, who’s usually a strong performer.

Richard and his friends were busy taking rough lap times and were impressed with her pace, as she’d already improved upon her previous times in the wet at the circuit. Unfortunately for Karen, it seems everyone else’s times had also improved. That and the re-merging of the MK1 and faster MK2 fields saw her qualify in 25th place overall, 14th out of the MK1 cars. However, a group of 6 other cars failed to make the final 30 places and were relegated into running in a separate race organised by the CSCC.

Race 1 was due to begin at 1pm and by that time the weather had improved dramatically with no more rain and the track drying rapidly. There was some confusion as the marshals attempted to assemble the large grid of 30 cars in the assembly area. Seemingly still not right, it led to cars sitting high up the Devil’s Elbow as positions were sorted out. At this point, the field were waved off under a green flag. Jason Jesse #37 immediately overtook Karen and John Wilson #17, before realising his mistake much later on and falling back behind them when they reached the Devil’s Elbow!

Karen assumes that when the grid re-formed, numerous cars were still not in the correct positions so another green flag was waved. Jason overtook Karen again, this time almost running straight into the back of John! Once more he realised his mistake, and returned to his position as the cars drove slowly around. Meanwhile, at the pointy end of the grid Andrew Hutchinson #21 and Sarah Wherry #23 were coming to blows as they fought for the lead of a race that wasn’t even in progress! The end result of this saw them both removed from the grid and sent to the Clerk of the Course.

The actual start of Race 1 began using the red lights, with Karen’s progress hampered by the sheer weight of number of cars trying to go around Gerrards. Things began to thin out slightly as the cars powered along Stebbe Straight, but as the front runners entered the Lake Esses all hell broke loose! The video footage below clearly shows the damage done to several cars in the incident:


video copyright www.ifdevracing.net, reproduced with kind permission.


Karen was blessed with luck and skill in equal measure and managed to zip through a narrowing gap in the melee, losing only the passenger door mirror in the process! For obvious reasons the race was immediately red flagged. Due to the previous amount of time wasted the officials abandoned the re-start, preferring to attempt it at the end of the day.

Race 2 began at about 4.30pm, but of course it was now effectively Race 1! The grid positions remained the same and the start of the race saw Karen managing to keep Jason at bay. Things were still tight the first time through Gerrards though. Karen snuck inside the MK2 of Andy Winterton #8 at the Lake Esses but lost the place again as he powered past out of the Devil’s Elbow.


Photograph copyright Derren Phillips, reproduced with kind permission.


Karen was in a struggle with Jason for a fair while and at one point they were neck and neck along the Stebbe Straight. Bradley Philpot #50 had possibly re-joined the circuit after an incident and was seemingly cruising down the middle of the straight. As Karen and Jason approached him they seemed set to shoot past on either side until Bradley moved across – right in front of Karen! Jason flew by and Karen was left caught behind Bradley for another half a lap until Bradley seemed to clear whatever problem he was having and accelerated away, leaving a rather disgruntled Karen to begin chasing Jason down all over again. After a few laps of continually closing the gap to him, their battle was disrupted by the front running MK2 cars lapping the field and Jason was gone again.


Photograph copyright Sarah Wherry, reproduced with kind permission.


With a couple of laps to go, Hugh Gilmore #98 was now beginning to pressurise Karen. In the penultimate lap, whilst braking down for the hairpin, Hugh gave Karen a hefty tap from behind sending her straight onto the grass rather than turning into the corner! Karen recovered well enough to chase Hugh down the Kirkby straight where she spotted the last lap board. Thinking she was now in last place, Karen made sure to dispatch Hugh by beating him into the Lake Esses and she actually finished in 21st overall from 24. 10th place in Class A. (Production MK1).

A slightly disappointing finish, with the MK2’s seeming to distort the results and the racing itself thanks to having to make way for the lapping cars. There still seems to be an issue with Karen’s front suspension making itself evident through the left hander of Devil’s Elbow, which certainly lost her at least one place during the course of the race. The re-run of Race 1 was cancelled at the end of the day due to a lack of time before the racing curfew at 6pm.


Karen Phillips - Media Magnet.

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Karen's received her fair share of media exposure this month!

Issue 5 of MR2 Only magazine contained a special feature on the MR2 Challenge, two pages of which featured Karen's experiences at the Snetterton and Cadwell rounds so far. The editor has requested that the provision of such material for the magazine continue and so with any luck Karen's adventures through the season will be put into print. MR2 Only magazine obviously caters for all variants of the MR2/MR-S and is available via subscription only. Please see www.mr2only.com for details.

The July edition of Banzai also features a 1/4 page article on Karen's racing in the MR2 Challenge. It's a great little feature with some nice pictures of door to door racing at Snetterton, courtesy of Sarah Wherry. Please see www.banzaimagazine.com for details.


Mallory Park Practice

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Karen, Richard and their friend Lance attended a practice day at Mallory Park on Wednesday 20th June. The weather was dry and was also bright and sunny at times. Karen went out in the first session to check the car and generally give feedback on how it felt now it was back together. Once done, the remaining two sessions were used to try some different lines/techniques and improve her lap times.

Traffic was heavy, literally in some cases thanks to lumbering Jaguar XJ saloons that held up the nimbler cars in the corners and then hoofed past using the power of their V12's on the straights! Despite this, Karen managed to post some consistent times, and better her previous lap times by a couple of seconds. Usually, she improves her times again during race qualifying so we hope this holds for the races on Sunday.


Karen On Camera

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This video taken from the car of John Wilson #17 shows a battle with Karen at the beginning of Race 2 from Cadwell Park in May. Unfortunately for Karen she was fighting against the dislocated spring on the front passenger side wheel. John's video shows just how exciting the MR2 Challenge racing is.


Drilled, Tapped, Bolted.

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Drilling out the sheared bolt and re-tapping the bottom fixing mount for the wing took a matter of a few minutes. The wing was then finally fully bolted in place. Richard had assumed it was going to be a lengthy and onerous task consisting of broken drill bits and much swearing, so he quit while he was ahead for the evening!

Just the damage to attend to on the drivers rear 3/4 panel and the car will be ready for Karen's Mallory practice session on Wednesday 20th June. Here's hoping everything is ok ready for the races on the following Sunday.


Kia Motorsport Hospitality

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Many thanks to Phill McKenzie of Kia Motorsport Hospitality who has been very generous in offering places in their VIP box at Donington Park as a charity auction lot. We were lucky in having the winning bid and were due to watch the BTCC in July, but the new MR2C Snetterton round put paid to that plan. Phill has kindly deferred our tickets until next year, or until something else of interest crops up.

If you or your company are considering a special day at the (automotive) races, then please contact these guys!

"Kia Motorsport Hospitality at Donington Park Dont just stand there - feel part of the action. Come and join in for the new 2007 season at Donington Park to enjoy the very best in motorsport action.

Situated in the Redgate Suite No. 40, we have a view second to none, enjoying a covered viewing area allowing you to get closer to the action, whatever the weather. You will be able to witness, first hand as the pack leaves the start line and roars into Redgate, consecutive flying laps and the eventual winner crossing the finish line. Complete with a live feed from the circuit the action can be followed live on TV as the action unfolds.

Our packages are designed to cater for all needs, whether you are treating yourselves, with your friends or be it a corporate day with valued guests, suppliers or work colleagues, we can guarantee you a day to remember. A member of Kia Motorsport Hospitality will be on hand to make sure the day runs smoothly.

Our packages include excellent fresh food, soft and hot drinks, a complimentary bar with beers and wine. Special VIP parking allocation with pass and advance VIP tickets. Our team can cater for Corporate meetings, birthday parties, track day enthusiasts and motoring clubs on an individual, group or complete suite hire basis. For more information please ring us on 01905 620064 or send us an email to vip@kiahospitality.co.uk"

Please visit: www.kiahospitality.co.uk


Shear Frustration!

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After a week of Richard becoming a part-time solvent abuser whilst painting the new panels blue, it was time to re-assemble the front of the car. Darren was helping as they got down to the task. It came together pretty quickly until the single bolt for the bottom fixing of the wing sheared off whilst being tightened!

That was it for the evening. The side skirt and inner wing cannot now be fitted until this has been resolved. Richard's plan is to fix the front suspension problem, then wheel the car out into the open. He can then jack the car sufficiently high enough to drill out the remains of the bolt and re-tap the hole. Once done, everything should fit back together within a very short time.

The paint match is questionable, but at least everything is blue! (Including Richard's lungs).


About Karen Phillips

  • Karen races her Impreza WRX in the Nippon Challenge, a race series for Japanese and Asian cars. Karen has now been racing since 2006, having started in the MR2 Challenge.
  • Please check this site regularly for updates on Karen's progress through the season and developments with her race car.

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