Once again Karen had been given the opportunity to drive the Tengu Do Motorsport Subaru Cup car, due to its usual driver Martin White still being too injured to drive. With the weather threatening rain, the team decided to use the cut wet tyres which would give great grip in the dry and hopefully reasonable grip in the wet...
The weather remained dry, and Karen strategically got into the Assembly Area first to ensure clean track ahead of her straight away. She gradually increased her pace, mindful of the fact the car was equipped with brand new front brake discs and pads. Karen had to remind herself the nuiances of the circuit and the new layout of the approach to the hairpin. She enjoyed the session, being overtaken by some cars and overtaking others, swapping places several times with Rob Jefferies in his Turbocharged MK1 MR2. When the timesheets appeared, it showed she had qualified in 13th position with a best time of 57.209 seconds. It was noted that the tyre pressures had ballooned considerably which must have seriously affected her ability to get the best out of the car.
Race 1 started with Karen on the inside of the circuit, leaving no opportunity to use the side of the circuit due to the barriers! She didn't get a great start with the car stuttering and seeming to bog down. She was overhauled by the MX5's of Kevin Middleton and Matt Robinson. She fought hard, first managing to split them and then overtake them both. However, the fight had meant she lost touch with the cars further ahead. Thanks mainly to DNF's ahead, Karen finished in 8th place. Her best lap time was a 56.797, but more importanly she gained the final podium position in the Subaru Cup! Once again, it was discovered that the tyre pressures were soaring on certain tyres, affecting performance. Pressures were adjusted further ready for Race 2.
Race 2 had Karen starting on the outside of the circuit and the team had already discussed her use of the (now dry) grass thanks to the advantage of the WRX's AWD. When the lights went out Karen made a monster start and did indeed go 50/50 on the circuit and grass to launch herself from 8th to 4th by the first corner! Unfortunately, there were a couple of incidents in the pack much further back and it was serious enough to warrant the race being stopped immediately.
The cars that could continue were re-formed in their original positions on the grid, meaning Karen had lost her advantage. Worse was the fact that the guys in front were now wise to her tactics and blocked her off at the re-start. Karen found herself fighting hard with the MR2 of Nick Jones and MX5 of Jonathan Blake. Both were powerful two litre cars and were much lighter than the WRX. This meant they were pretty evenly matched. Karen did manage to get in front, but then outbraked herself going into the Esses forcing her onto the grass. She tried to keep her momentum going and re-joined the circuit but the mistake had cost her dear with the MR2 and MX5 nipping past her again. Karen was fighting hard again and would have re-gained her places, but a reduced race time thanks to the re-start meant she crossed the finishing line a mere 2 tenths of a second behind Jonathan's MX5. Karen's best lap time had improved to 56.527 seconds and although she finished where she had started in 8th overall she was 2nd in the Subaru Cup!
A massive thank you to the Tengu Do Motorsport team and its principal Martin White (Pictured with Karen). The crew not only provided the WRX, but were also invaluable in their enthusiasm and encouragement.
Karen's driving improved by leaps and bounds and it was noticeable how she was much more confident in her battling in close proximity and overtaking other cars. Promising great stuff for her return in her own car next season.