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…?