Round 2 of the SMRC season took place at Knockhill this weekend. McMurdo Motorsport were happy just to be there after thieves stole the car trailer on Thursday night, dumping Steph’s race car in the middle of a field full of sheep!
After fog threatened to force the meeting to be called off, the start of racing was postponed by an hour to give it time to clear. Qualifying replaced by 3 laps in formation behind the safety car, grid positions decided by championship points. This left Malcolm on 6th for the start of the first race and Steph lying 16th, suffering from being taken out in the final race of round 1 and losing the points finish she would have had.
Race 1 started with a distinct dry line visible on the circuit and Malcolm’s grid box placed him in the perfect position to capitalize on the grip available, immediately jumping past David Sleigh and Ian Munro. The lead trio of Kenny Thirlwall, Oly Mortimer and Joe Tanner broke away as Malcolm fought off the challenge from Sleigh. Eventually getting some breathing space late in the race when Sleigh was backed up in to traffic but with only 2 laps to go there was no catching the leaders, but another strong 4th was a good result with the freshly rebuilt car.
Steph stayed clear of trouble on lap one in a frantic start holding position in 16th. At the start of lap two, Ladies Cup rival Hannah Chapman left the circuit returning in to the side of Scott McKenzie with both cars spinning out of the race in to the gravel at MacIntyres. Steph managed to capitalize on the chaos and got past Dan Dreelan then chased down Des Wheatley. Leaving Wheatley to battle with Dreelan, she came home in 13th taking the Ladies Cup win and her first main championship points of the season.
Race 2 returned to wet conditions and Malcolm struggled for grip off the line, losing a place to Sleigh. Unable to keep up with the lead quartet he set to defending from Chris Reid with everything going well until the last corner of the last lap when Reid managed to out drag him to the line with a better run out of the hairpin, relegating him to 6th.
Steph had a contrasting start with a great first lap seeing her up to 11th place. Dreelan passed her on lap 2 and they fought for the majority of the race before a small mistake allowed McKenzie, Scott Forbes and Marco Haig to pass. Crucially, she kept the lead for the Ladies win and again finished in the points for the main championship.
With the reverse grid draw for Race 3, Malcolm took pole position lining up along side Reid. Off the lights Malcolm got the drop and took the lead for the first 2 laps, on lap 3 a slow run through Clarks allowed Thirlwall to get the overlap with Malcolm slotting in behind to try and defend from the pack behind. Despite being clattered from behind, Malcolm managed to defend second until lap 8 where he got nudged wide at the hairpin allowing Mortimer and Sleigh to pass on the run up the hill. With both wing mirrors flattened it was nearly disaster with Chris Reid diving round the outside on the run in to Clarks on the last lap and Malcolm unable to hold the car on a tight line or see where he was to avoid him. Thankfully only light side to side contact and both cars finished the race with Malcolm taking another 4th.
Steph dropped a place off the start to 16th but came back swinging, battling race long with Wheatley and Gary Muir. At the flag she took her 3rd Ladies win of the day and 3rd main championship points scoring finish with 15th.
The first round of the SMRC season got off to a slippery start on Sunday at Knockhill Racing Circuit with rain on both Saturday’s test session and Sunday’s raceday.
Even allowing for the rain, the track was particularly treacherous for qualifying, with the drivers fighting to keep the cars under control for the whole session. Malcolm eventually put the car in 6th place on the grid, feeling rather ambivalent about his performance saying, “Given it’s the first time we’ve ran the car in the wet I probably shouldn’t be that disappointed, its on par with what I was doing last year, at the same time, my last hot lap I was over half a second up coming in to Clarks but over cooked it and got a big tail slide on which wrecked the lap, ultimately I should have done better.” Steph was disappointed with her 20th place in qualifying with a car slowing down coming out the hairpin, ruining her final lap when she was several tenths up, and leaving her second placed ladies qualifier.
Race 1 was straight in to typical Scottish MINI Cooper Cup action. Malcolm maintained position in 6th after a tricky start on the wet side of the grid, being warned for circuit limits on lap 4 leaving him unable to challenge the cars in front. “I was settling in to the race and getting ready to push on when I saw the warning flag coming out. Having used the best part a full washer bottle for the mud coming off the cars in front, to say I was surprised it was me getting the warning would be the understatement of the century. After the flag I just couldn’t risk pushing on as any other mistakes would have been a 5 second penalty.” Luckily for Malcolm, 2 of the cars in front did receive penalties for just that later in the race, promoting him to 4th place, with Kenny Thirlwall, Joe Tanner and Oly Mortimer taking the first 3 places respectively. Steph managed to pass her main ladies championship rival, Hannah Chapman, early on in the race and then spent the remainder of the race battling with Will Smith and chasing down James ‘Biffa’ Bruce. Crossing the line 17th she was delighted with her first Ladies’ Cup win of the 2014 season.
Race 2 started in changeable conditions with teams have to make a last minute call on set up in the holding area with a sudden rain shower dampening a previously drying track. Off the start, Malcolm maintained position and positioned himself chasing down the lead trio. The first main incident of the race came on lap 2 with Chapman attempting a move up the inside at Clarks before realising waved yellows were in place due to an off for Aiden Moffat. In trying to back out the move she collided with Steph and ended up beached in the gravel alongside team mate Moffat, the safety car being scrambled as a result. Off the restart, Thirlwall pulled a blinder, Malcolm getting held back with wheelspin. With conditions drying, Malcolm’s car didn’t have the same sweet spot it had before the safety car and he found himself just having to maintain the gap to Jock Borthwick in 5th, hoping the leaders would slow themselves down battling in the later stages. Steph found herself in the mix with Smith and Bruce again, this time finishing 16th and claiming her second Ladies’ Cup victory, but disappointed at just missing the main championship points.
Race 3’s reverse grid was drawn at P6, giving Chris Reid the pole alongside Borthwick. Mortimer lined up alongside Malcolm, with Tanner and Thirlwall on row 3. Off the start, again Malcolm found wheelspin an issue but joined the train of cars defending the inside in to Clarks. As Thirlwall threaded through the field, Malcolm was collected hard by a train of cars from behind, firing him in to the back of Borthwick before Kyle Reid got clipped trying to go round the outside of the train. Unable to determine whether it was tyre smoke or steam coming out the front of his car, Malcolm tried to push on whilst keeping an eye on the temp gauge. Midway through lap 2 the temps started to rise, forcing Malcolm in to his first retirement in 3 years. Steph got off to a good start making up positions in the chaos, unfortunately all the good work was undone on lap 3 when a late lunge from Des Wheatley at Clarks resulted in heavy contact to the rear quarter panel and both cars spinning off in to the mud. Eventually Steph managed to rejoin, albeit 2 laps down, finishing the race and claiming 3rd place points in the Ladies Cup.
So a weekend of mixed emotions, but two strong performances from two brand new cars. Why not come along and joing us for the next round at Knockhill on May 4th and sample the action for yourself…?
Round 9 of the SMRC calendar, “Season Finale” possibly not doing the event justice. With numerous championships still up for grabs, there was bound to be some epic battles, none more so than the fight for the Celtic Speed MINI Cooper Cup. Coming in to the final round, Joe “Front Row Joe” Tanner had a 5 point lead on Kenny Thirlwall, with David Sleigh a further 24 points behind. With 78 points available over 3 races, it was still all to play for.
Qualifying in very wet and greasy conditions saw a surprise pole, with first year racer Greg Barnard 2 hundredths of a second ahead of Thirlwall with Tanner in 3rd. Wet weather specialist Vic Covey Jnr was 4th followed by Team Sleigh’s Aiden Moffat and David Sleigh. Lewis Grant claimed 7th with Malcolm in 8th.
Race 1 was again wet with Thirwall grabbing the lead and Tanner holding second right up to the last lap when their battle slowed them up at the hairpin and in a bold move, Moffat passed both round the outside giving him his first MINI race win. Ian Munro came home 4th followed by Covey in 5th with Malcolm in 6th unable to challenge Covey properly after a first lap collision left him with bent suspension.
Race 2’s conditions were marginally better although still a touch slippery with a damp track starting to show a dry line. Thirlwall and Tanner again set to it at the front of the field battling it out for the lead. Munro held on to 3rd with Sleigh making it up to 4th on the first lap before contact at MacIntyres on lap 2 forced him to retire from the race. Malcolm was in the wars again with a smash from behind through the hairpin on lap 1 seeing him sliding broadside up the track and gravel and dropping down to 8th but recovering to chase down the dueling Munro and Covey. With Marco Haig’s car parked on the edge of the gravel trap at the end of lap 6, the race was red flagged.
With the draw for race 3 completed, Chris Reid took pole with Josh Baird along side. Malcolm lined up 3rd alongside Covey, Munro and Tanner were on row 3, Thirlwall and Moffat on row 4. With Thirlwall moving in to a 3 point lead following race 2 it was all down to this race for the championship.
Off the lights Reid moved ahead with Baird tucking in behind only to lose out as Malcolm chose to go round the outside in to Duffus making it stick and claiming 2nd, only a folded in wing mirror giving away just how tight a pass it had been! In to MacIntyres on lap one and Baird was elbowed out by Covey for 3rd place, which he held up to the hairpin when Tanner forced his way past followed through by Thirlwall.
Reid lead the way until lap 4 when Malcolm managed the cut back at the hairpin getting the inside to drag race up the start finish straight and hold his line in to Duffus taking the lead, Reid being muscled out by Thirwall in to MacIntyres, dropping him back down the field. In to the hairpin and Thirlwall’s patented passing move saw Malcolm take an elbowing out on to the gravel dropping him down to 4th, just before the safety car came out.
After 2 laps under the safety car, the race went green again, the order at this point; Thirlwall, Tanner, Moffat, McNab. Thirlwall and Tanner immediately settled back in to the swing of it with some hard and physical racing, contact between the pair slowing them up slightly starting lap 8, allowing Moffat to take the lead. Coming in to MacIntyres on lap 9, futher contact between the two saw both cars take to the gravel dropping down the field, Malcolm nipping through in to 2nd place followed by Barnard, Covey and Sleigh respectively with that order staying to the finish.
The contact on lap 8 left Thirlwall and Tanner with damaged cars, Tanner limped home with a broken wheel in 17th out of the points, Thirwall managed to finish 9th taking the title by 10 points. Sleigh held 3rd with Malcolm securing his 4th place overall ahead of Covey.