Image copyright MR2 Only magazine, used with kind permission
Having had an early start from home at 5.30am, Karen and her team arrived at Mallory under grey clouds but no rain. The car was unloaded and washed and had no problems with scrutineering. As Karen’s nervousness grew, David, Darren and Richard tucked in to hearty breakfasts made by the lovely ladies in the cafeteria.
Qualifying began at 9.50am and although the track looked dry enough it was still damp and greasy. Karen had a big sideways moment on the exit of Gerrards that left her team with their hearts in their mouths. Everyone seemed to be at least a couple of seconds off their best dry pace and the times reflected that. Karen had posted a time of 1:05.516 which put her in 24th position out of 29 runners.
The cars were called to assembly not long after 2pm and were soon formed on the grid. However, cars from the previous race were still being collected from the circuit upon low-loaders and thanks to having to wait for an ambulance to return to the inside of the circuit they were on the grid for over twenty minutes. The green flag lap proceeded without incident and before much longer the race had finally begun!
David Litchfield #11 was chasing Mark Jessop #73 hard for the lead of the race until a moment on the grass at the Esses sent him headlong toward the tyre wall on the inside of the circuit at nigh-on full speed. The car hit the tyre wall and was catapulted upwards into the air a good number of feet before gravity sucked it back down roof first! Luckily, David was un-hurt and managed to extricate himself from the wreck within a couple of moments to everyone’s relief.
Tim Cartledge had been having great fun drifting his #42 Mk1 around Gerrards, but it seems this was at odds with his rear Falken tyres and it’s likely that the passenger one came away from the rim. This caused the car to slew further sideways and end up side on into the gravel trap. Physics dictated that the car would end up rolling, which it did a total of five times before coming to rest perched on the armco next to a marshal station! Tim was un-hurt except for a gash on his arm received from shards of glass when exiting the car. All the glass had been shattered and yet upon inspection after the race it appeared the roof had not even been pushed against the rollcage. It seems the MR2 is a safe car to roll in!Image copyright MR2 Only magazine, used with kind permission
Karen’s clutch was slipping badly and every gear change saw her loose ground to the rest of the field. She was chased hard by Arron Pullan #26 who eventually got past at the Esses. Karen used the improved braking power from her CarboTech pads to brake later on the inside of the hairpin but Arron hadn’t seen her and turned in causing a good deal of damage to Karens passenger front wing and bumper. It’s possible the collision either locked the wheel under the arch or broke the steering, as Karen fought for control coming out of the hairpin and tried to avoid a spin. The cars clashed again and Karen was catapulted towards the lapping cars of Patrick Mortell #1 and Steve Lumley #58 who were fighting for second place. Patrick squeezed past but Karen struck Steve’s car very hard. This sent Steve into the armco and Karen bounced away to nose into the armco heavily on the opposite side. With the rear of Karen’s car butting out into the middle of the track the race was finally red-flagged.
Karen was unharmed but the marshals were forced to help her out of the car through the driver’s window (which had shattered), due to the door catch not seeming to operate. Karen was taken to the Medical Centre where she was checked over and found to be in good health. She was surprised when Tim was brought in for treatment!
Richard was unaware of the events that had unfolded and he watched as Steve Lumley drove his car back through the paddock, all the while fighting broken steering. Karen’s car was recovered on the back of a low loader and deposited near the scrutineering shed just as the heavens opened and torrential rain came down. The awful weather would eventually see the meeting abandoned.
Karen’s car was left with two crushed front wings, a broken bumper and front valance parts, a crushed radiator, bent front light covers, a heavily creased driver’s door with smashed glass, a mildly dented passenger door, a badly dented driver’s rear quarter panel with a missing side vent and finally an errant driver’s front wheel thanks to a sheared track rod end!Image copyright MR2 Only magazine, used with kind permission
Karen apologised to Steve who was supremely understanding of the situation and they commiserated with each other over the states of their cars. It was then left to Karen, Richard, David and Darren to attempt to load the wrecked car back onto its trailer. Sarah Wherry helped direct the crew as they pushed it into place. Karen would like to thank Sarah and everyone else who offered assistance at the time and for help with spare parts if required – It was very much appreciated.
A very miserable end to the Mallory meeting; Karen’s first DNF in nearly two seasons of motor racing. A number of possibly serious incidents resulting in at least two cars being put out of action permanently. Topping it all was the awful weather which ruined the rest of the days racing.
Briefly, there was the hope that with the race red-flagged with enough laps done that Karen and Steve might still be classified with finishing positions. The requirement was 8 laps. Steve had completed 10 laps, and Karen 9. Unfortunately, an obscure ruling was used which saw them both still classified as DNF and Jason Jesse #37 came 24th having only completed 8 laps. Motor racing, you couldn’t make it up!