Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Shattered and deflated

Race report…
Feeling like my front right wheel and tyre… Shattered and deflated.

After no testing, I was happy enough with 6th with the view to improve on that race by race.

Race 1: 
Started 6th, finished 6th and another good clean battle with my teammate John. Glad I managed to successfully defend against him at the hairpin and for the rest of the race but it cost us both precious time on catching the front running pack.

Race 2: 
Had a flying start off the line but that’s the only good thing I have to say about the race as unfortunately yet again wrong place wrong time for me and I ended up a passenger on the outside of 3 abreast at Duffus taking a hit from ex-teammate Mark Geraghty. I tried to keep the car going as long as I could not wanting to get a row from the team for coming in the pits but in hindsight I wish I’d made the decision to pull in sooner. It’s always a tough call to make in the heat of the moment; I’ve made the wrong choice by coming in the pits before so I was cautious not to make the same mistake. Anyway, made it to the pits after a lap or two hobbling round the track, new wheel on front right and I managed to finish the race, albeit in last but better than a DNF. Looking at my wheel after the race, the edges of my wheel were broken off and the tyre was completely shredded!

Race 3: 
Starting 3rd last with Geraghty and Dalgiesh behind me. Another good start off the line for me but being at the rear end of the grid can be tough trying to fight your way through the mayhem. I had a mid-race incident with Craig Blake where I was carrying considerably more speed than him into the hairpin, not expecting this difference in pace I unfortunately went into the rear quarter of his car. I held my hands up and apologised for this after the race. I was hoping for a better comeback from the back of the grid, I finished 8th just managing to pass Taelor on the last lap but my 16th to 8th doesn’t quite compare to the 18th to 2nd result that Robbie Dalgliesh managed! 

Super proud of my team Minimax Motorsport for all their hard work before and during race weekend and of my teammates for some amazing driving! Minimax are getting stronger and stronger. Taelor drove superbly in race 3 and she was not easy to pass, so happy for her getting her well-deserved first ever top ten result! Also a huge congrats to my teammate Michael for his brilliant results in his new car (SHELLEY not Me-Shell ;)) and I’m gutted for John who should’ve won race three if his tyre didn’t fail him. Here’s to our luck changing for Rockingham John! Bring on the away round where I always tend to do better… :)

A huge thanks as ever to my team, sponsors, supporters and Knockhill staff and marshalls. Always grateful.
RAM Tubulars Scotland Ltd
Whitehaul Ltd
Sightmast Enterprises
Ajmal Steel
TSL Pitmedden Ltd/Technical Services Aberdeen Ltd

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Scottish MINIs go to Donington

Scottish Cooper Cup - Rockingham Race Report…

P4, room for improvement but was really quite happy with that.

Race 1: 
On the outside of the grid, I had an amazing start off the line and held it round the outside of turn 1. Everyone then bunched up together and we were all so close heading for the uphill right hand corner Yentwood. Robbie Dalgliesh managed to squeeze up the inside and I was stuck behind Ian Munro who had lost momentum going up the hill. As a result, I also struggled up the hill and was left on the outside of Chapman Curve which meant that I had the inside line for Pif Paf but in the lap 1 chaos I was left no room and the car hit the big orange curb and careered off across the Touring Car circuit layout. The car was still driveable so I rejoined safely and tucked back into the pack. I finished 8th but was extremely frustrated that I’d gone backwards not forwards. 

Race 2: 
I was so ready to get out there and make a great comeback to do my team and sponsors proud. The start lights had broken down so after a second formation lap I was ready for the race to be started under a flag – reminded me of my karting days. I got off to an absolute flyer of a start and decided to go for the inside approach this time since my race 1 “round the outside” plan didn’t really work out. However, the cars in front were shoving each other on the banked corner (the fastest part of the circuit!). My teammate Michael who was on the outside of this unfortunately got tagged and was sent spinning across the track… right into Lola. Yet again, wrong place wrong time for me and another race weekend ruined. Surely my luck is due to change right?
Massive thanks to the following (sorry not sorry for the extensive list but I feel everyone deserves a proper mention after our Rockingham efforts):

Whitehaul – My family’s trucking company who transported the Minimax Minis to and from the circuit. I was so proud of them, they did a brilliant job and it was so great for them to feel like a proper part of the team. Much love to Kate and Sazbo (and Maisie the lorry)! 

Minimax – The best team ever! Team boss Scott. Driver coach Vic. Mechanics Andy, Alan P, Guy, Jack, Matt and Mikey. What great team spirit these guys have and always work so hard. It was also lovely to meet the latest addition to the team, Ross McColm and his wife Jodie. I’m so gutted for Ross that his first outing in the Minis resulted in a written off carL. My awesome teammates Michael, John and Taelor and of course the others that are always there supporting us and are just as valuable to the team as the rest; Lewis <3, Lottie, the Patersons, the Weddells/Marie, Alan S and weeFee. Minimax are a force to be reckoned with, bring on July.

My sponsors, the best sponsors I could ever ask for – RAM Tubulars Scotland Ltd (I’m sorry the car keeps getting “rammed”, I wish people would stop taking the logo so literally!), Nexus24, Sightmast Enterprises, Ajmal Steel, Whitehaul, TSL Pitmedden and TSL Aberdeen. You all mean the world to me.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Unlucky number Seven

Round 2 Race Report
Qualifying – My teammate John Duncan and I found ourselves stuck in a pack. Not satisfied with the pace within this pack, I decided to drop out, give the tyres a rest whilst finding a better space and then went for it. Qualified P5 less than 2 tenths off pole! 
Race 1 – OOPS! Great start then an incident at McIntyres caused a yellow flag which we all slowed down for as normal. Upon passing this, it looked to me as if Ian Munro had started racing again with Dylan O’Donnell as they were trading paint with each other just past the chicane. Having front row seats of this mini battle, I was under the impression racing had resumed and went for it. Looking ahead to Clarks corner there were NO yellow flags to be seen. However, upon reaching the back straight and catching Dom Wheatley (still thinking we were racing), I then noticed the yellow flags and now also Safety Car boards… On top of that I had an angry Kyle Reid in my rear view mirror and eventually realised where I had gone wrong – SORRY GUYS genuine mistake! The race carried on after the safety car re-start, however I ended up finishing 7th from avoiding Morgan and Dylan having a bump at the Hairpin resulting in me swerving and losing my pace up the straight and my position to both Mark Geraghty and Robbie Dalgliesh *sigh*. 

Race 2 – Finished 7th again after a great battle with my teammate John. He passed me but then lap by lap I was catching him again so I went for a move at the hairpin. We were neck and neck up the straight with Duffus fast approaching. As teammates and having a great deal of respect for each other, we didn’t want to take each other out (and give Minimax twice the work!) but luckily I just had the legs on him and got ahead. A great clean race for the two of us.  

Race 3 – CARNAGE. Dom Wheatley did a Hannah and lost it at Duffus whilst in the lead. As the car went careering off stage-right, he was onto the grass and out of control. The car then re-emerged onto the track right in front of the pack as we were exiting McIntyres. Pretty scary! The cloud of gravel dust did not help the matter. I lost a few places again from having to brake hard to avoid hitting him -not ideal but far better than if I hadn’t avoided him. Unfortunately others weren’t quite so lucky –there were a few who didn’t make it. After what seemed like a lifetime under safety car for the wreckages to be cleared, racing resumed only to be followed a lap or so later by ANOTHER incident and another safety car. This time it was Mikey Courts trying to do a Hannah and overtake me under yellow flags but I was having none of it! During the race I was also having a good battle with Callum Dryburgh knowing I had the pace but making sure to get past him cleanly and fairly. Eventually I got past but as the end of the race drew nearer, my poor tyres gave up on me and I ran wide into the gravel, losing to Dryburgh and Courts. As I re-joined, I somehow managed to win the line into the chicane and get my place back from Callum and was hunting down Michael to get another place back. I managed this with a move around the outside of him at the hairpin and a drag race to the finish line. YAY. Finished 7th, not bad considering the events during the race.

Overall for me, although three 7ths are not the best position wise, I am still much happier after this weekend compared to round 1 as I have got my pace back and I know I was driving well and getting stuck in again which was the most important thing for me going ahead. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Back in the driver's seat



Mentally tough race weekend..

Since my crash in September, I didn’t really think it had affected me... Let’s face it, I’ve crashed plenty of times in my race career, picked myself back up, dusted myself off and got back in the car again and again as if nothing had happened… Unfortunately this last one appears to have done something to my subconscious as I now seem to have a bit of a mental block on the approach to Duffus Dip. What happened to the days where I’d fearlessly follow my old teammate and multiple Mini champ Kenny Thirlwall down there flying on two wheels?! 

As disappointed as I am in my loss of pace, I know it won’t be permanent. I won’t let it be. I know I will get over this blip and it’s good to know there’s only one problem so we can put all our focus onto fixing it ASAP… At least I know I’ve still got it everywhere else!

With the above in mind, here is how my day went..

Quali: 9th – Really disappointing for me but at least it’s single figures.

Race 1: Average race start, ended up behind my new teammate/old karting friend Michael Weddell but managed to get past and finish in 8th.

Race 2: Fairly uneventful for me, started 8th, finished 8th… I did however get off to a great start holding it for as long as I could on the outside line in battle side by side with my teammate John Duncan. We raced all the way to the chicane where he just had the legs on me and took the lead out of us two. After that, quite a lonely race really.

Race 3: Good start, was determined to fix my Duffus problems. I found myself in between two packs and as I felt I could’ve caught up and got stuck in with the front pack, Lola decided she was having none of it. The gearbox jumped out of 3rd gear twice in one lap.. After that, I dropped to 9th and it was a case of physically holding the gear lever in place in an attempt to prevent it from jumping back out but this meant I’d lost some pace again and found myself defending against the pack behind. By the end of the race I finished 7th due to an incident between two cars ahead.

Onwards and upwards… My first aim for the weekend was to finish all three races and that’s what I did (albeit in lower positions than I’d hoped). Now it’s time to get quick again and focus on re-learning the dreaded Duffus in time for Qualifying at Round 2. Remember, it’s only round 1 and a long season ahead, the fast competitive Hannah will be back. 

RAM Tubulars Scotland Ltd
Sightmast Enterprises
Ajmal Steel
Whitehaul Ltd

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Mid-season reflection

I am now past the halfway point with my racing season in the Celtic Speed Scottish MINI Cooper Cup and it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs yet again this year.

Unfortunately, the downs at the moment are outweighing the ups after having a devastatingly unlucky away round at Donington Park in June. On a track I had never seen or driven before, I managed to qualify P2 and was set for a podium finish in race 1 before I was hit out of the way by another driver on the last lap. To add salt to the wound, the car didn’t even survive a whole lap in the second race at Donington before becoming victim to another driver incident and was too badly damaged to finish the race.

Qualifying on Sunday morning was ok – could’ve been better, could’ve been worse. I managed to secure 5th which was only 0.04 seconds off pole which as expected was of course taken by my guest teammate BTCC’s Adam Morgan!

Race 1 for me was great, I was fighting off Dylan O’Donnell for the first part but saw that he had to start defending for the guys catching him behind which gave me some breathing space. I was then sitting in 4th watching a good battle go on ahead of me. I didn’t want to get too involved with the podium fight in front of me as I had a feeling it would work in my favour being patient on this occasion and I was right. Adam and Paul clashed at Duffus and I’m not sure exactly where Paul’s car ended up but it promoted me to third on the last lap so for once luck was on my side.

Race 2, my lucky spell was short lived. (Still managed fastest lap though 😏!)...
I was set for another podium finish and was having yet another good battle this time with Paul Bell fighting him off to hold my position in 3rd whilst Adam and Ian Munro broke away in 1st and 2nd. Unfortunately, Paul hit the back of my car going into McIntyres which subsequently bent part of the rear crash panel into my back left tyre which started shredding all the rubber off. I didn’t quite know what had happened because I didn’t think the hit at Mcintyres was too hard and I’m not pointing the finger of blame here I’m just giving my account of what happened. 

By the time I reached the exit of Clarks to go onto the back straight my car was making the most horrendous noise, awful smell and was losing speed fast as you can see from the blue smoke in Malcolm's footage my car was clearly not in a good way! This is then when the race 2 four-car-incident unfolded. With my car losing speed down the middle of the straight the others had to go either side to pass me. Paul Bell and Malc Mcnab were bumper to bumper passing me on the right and Red car 91 was trying to pass me on the left. The red car got pretty close to me and started moving even closer. I had nowhere to go with Paul and Malcolm being on my right hand side and Red car being on my left all I could do was keep my wheel straight and hope the others did the same. Next thing 91 is across my bonnet before collecting Paul who was hit sideways and up onto two wheels (I thought he was going to roll right in front of my eyes but thankfully it landed again!). 91 was then sandwiched between Paul and Malcolm who had nowhere to go as it all happened so fast and unexpectedly. Malc and Red car didn’t finish the race. Paul and I managed to limp our cars over the finish line although I was in last place as I had a quick visit to the pits. The accident was called as a racing incident.

Anyway, determined as ever, my team got my car back in one piece again for race three and there were a few familiar fast faces joining me at the back of the grid ready for an epic comeback in the final race of the day. Myself, Malcolm McNab, Paul Bell and Morgan Murray all had a big challenge on our hands trying to get through the mid pack as quickly as possible without any dramas. For once, I had an amazing start. I made it from 24th up to 9th with a few laps still to go but side by side with Brandon Walsh down Duffus we were both fighting for the same position and came together. Luckily we both finished the race, Brandon ended up better off than me finishing in 9th but I was okay with a 12th place considering everything that had happened previously but still disappointed in what could have been but I can’t think like that so again, it’s onwards and upwards. One of these days things will go in my favour.

As a result of Donington, I had dropped down the championship standings from a promising 3rd to a deflating 8th however I am looking on the bright side and know I can still come back from this. With just under half a season still remaining anything can happen, it’ll be a close call this year and from being back at Knockhill despite further bad luck and on track incidents, I have made my way back up the championship standings into 6 th place so who knows what the last three rounds will hold.

Aside from the doom and gloom of how unlucky I’ve been, I have actually achieved a lot this season as well with many consistent solid finishes and finally achieving my first overall win showing the guys I’m just as capable! It has been a long time coming and if I can manage some more of those performances for the rest of the year then I am in with a good chance of a great comeback for my RAM Tubulars sponsored Race MINI.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Start of the season doesn't go to plan

Race report time. So Round 1 is now done and dusted and I am going to call it the “Almost but not quite” round.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Pre-season trackday testing is a first!

Time is ticking and the season is getting ever closer and I just can’t get enough practice under my belt! I would say this is the most prepared for an upcoming season I have ever been so hopefully my organisation and preparation will pay off in the first round!

In the last few weeks I have been taking part in as many trackdays as I can afford to get those vital extra practice laps in on top of official pre-season testing. 

In previous years it seems I have been a bit of a slow starter, only getting on the pace a few rounds in to the season which is too little too late and that is why this time I have hit the ground running and have made sure I got straight back on track as soon as the notorious Knockhill weather conditions permitted.

Luckily this year, so far, the weather has been fairly snow-free. I have had tonnes of testing in the rain with lots of torrential downpours so my confidence has grown even more in the wet and will be doing lots of rain dances this year to try and get the weather to work in my favour! However on the 28th of February I took part in a Track Scotland trackday and for once it was glorious clear blue skies and sunshine with low track temperatures which made for perfect dry testing conditions which I was very happy about.

Ever conscious of the wear-and-tear these extra trackdays might be having on my car, I won’t be back out again until the next official test in a couple of weeks to give my car a bit of breather and my team Minimax Motorsport the chance to get some more work done on it to make sure it’s race ready again. I certainly need to invest in some new wheels after taking a fair few hits on them last season they are somewhat 50p shaped now rather than the perfect circle they should be! 

Since revealing my 2016 RAM Tubulars chrome and pink livery, I am delighted that the design seems to have gone down well receiving lots of compliments from everyone and it definitely stands out on track - especially when the sun makes an appearance - although many people have joked saying they wonder how long the chrome will stay intact… Hopefully I can stay out of trouble on track and keep the car in one piece but don’t go thinking for one minute that I’ll be holding back out of fear of ruining my fancy chrome, there’s plenty more where that came from so I won’t be backing out of any moves to keep my car “pretty”, it’s elbows out and each man for himself in the Scottish MINIs and I look forward to some more close racing in the season ahead.