One week later and I was back at Rockingham. 3rd place overall was all I could achieve in the first race as the mighty Subaru and Escort cosworth pulled away in the dry conditions. Slight rainfall in the second race gave me a fighting chance alowing me to grasp the lead but the track dried and the escort passed and pulled away resulting in a 2nd place. I was awarded driver of the day in the thundersaloons for my performance.
After a long wait I finally managed to get back into the Astra for my first race in the car and the first race of the season at Silverstone on the National circuit. The weather wasn't going to make it easy as persistent rain had soaked the track meaning the slicks looked like they were staying in the truck all weekend. Qualifying was just a test session for me to get to grips with the car in the wet and to see if the traction control was working, capable of taming the 500BHP on a wet track. After building the pace I had managed to place 4th overall and 2nd in class. This amazing result set me up well for the coming wet race.
The first race got off to a poor start losing 2 places, but I managed to keep the pack within a reasonable distance whilst I was getting to grips with the car and generating heat in the rear end. once again, I built the pace till I was chasing down the pack in front. lap after lap the gap got smaller and smaller until on the last lap all the class B cars in the top 6 were within the same second. Coming around the last corner all four of us were sprinting to the line with a close finish but 6th was all I managed.
The second race was a little bit dryer with some brave racers opting for slicks. I decided to stick with the wets as I didn’t see a dry enough line. Once again i got off at a reasonable pace keeping the gap small whilst warming the car up. After a few laps I was happy and started to make my way forward. Passing for Third then making it into second I set out for the win. The gap was reducing to the point I was on the bumper of the first-place car when the brakes started to get spongey. I kept on pushing even though the brakes were getting worse then on the second to last lap the brake pedal went to the floor. Managing to gather the car up and just about stay on track I lost a place but carried knowing I had enough of a gap to take it easy to the end and secure the 3rd place.
Overall it was a great weekend, I was happy with my progress in the car and the performance in the race. slight mechanical problems stopped me from getting a better result, but improvements can be made.
After the excellent learning experience of building my first engine with the help of Tony Tait we took a trip down to EFI parts in Runcorn to have the engine run in and fettled with. The end goal of the day was to see how good a job I had done with a few power runs. Once the engine was run in we changed the oil and were ready for the power runs. Tweeks were made to make the engine run a little cooler when idling. Seeing 230bhp was very pleasing as this is more than I was expecting to achieve but after the work I had put in a reasonable figure. Now with these numbers I will be closer to the power to weight limit of the sports specials class, so will not get passed so easily down the straights as I had before.
The long re-build of the Astras engine was finally complete so we took it at the same time as the MK to the rolling road to be run in. The goal for this engine was to run it in and get a power run to check that it was producing the same power as before. A slight issue with the fuel pressure was quickly fixed and 500bhp was easily produced once again.