Mini Se7en Rounds 8+9 – Snetterton
Rounds 8 & 9 bring us to the Norfolk track of Snetterton. As per last year we were using the larger 300 track, which is the longest of the year. All weather forecasts predicted a VERY hot weekend, but with the chance of storms on Sunday/Monday, so fingers were crossed.
Unusually Saturday was only for qualifying, which meant a nice relaxing day basking in the 30 degree sun! Which was lovely for the spectators, but with 3 layers of fireproof clothing, gloves, boots, balaclava, helmet… all wrapped up inside a 9000rpm steel can… to say it was warm was an understatement! Qualifying started with no dramas, but getting a tow down the straights would be key to a good lap time. Adam in car 44 had some slight setup changes, so he took a couple of laps to build up some speed and get used to how the car would be affected. Leon in car 7 managed to latch on to some quick cars and made use of the hole in the air in front of him, getting some consistent lap times. Adam was suffering with some under steer, (which was later found to be a loose castle nut)not being able to keep up with the cars around him.. Thinking it was a setup mistake, he drove around it and continued… having to drop back from the tow due to engine temperature rising with the lack of cold air coming through. A slow lap to let engine and tyres re-coop before a last minute attack on getting a good lap time (which happened to be Adam’s fastest)
With qualifying over, Leon managed a great 8th and 6th, where Adam managed 12th and 9th.
Race one took place on Sunday morning. It was slightly cooler than qualifying on the Saturday so engine temperatures were not much of a problem. Leon and Adam took their respective grid slots and waited for the uphill start.. both drivers making average starts, saw them being overtaken by a couple of cars in to Riches, the first corner. Both drivers getting pinched against the inside edge of the track with nowhere to go.
Leon managed to get away with Damon, Graeme, and Ashley, with Kieren following closely behind. Adam was having his own fun with Justin and Steve with some VERY close clean racing from the start! Keiren managed to slip pass Leon as the entire field was in one very large train, and Adam was taken by a very out of place Gareth going on to the start finish line. Leon was slowly getting dropped by the leading pack…it just proves how important the tow is on the long straights!
A couple of laps passed with no change in order, until Adam had a better exit on to the rivets straight and passed Justin at Bridge under braking… now catching Steve after Gareth had been battling with him for just as long as Adam had been trying to pass Justin! FRANTIC!!! Adam got a much better exit on to the Senna straight and pulled out from behind Steve, putting him on the outside for Riches, but the power under Steve, just helped him hold station for one more lap. Leon is slowly being caught by the charging Gareth as the rest of the pack seem to be slowing each other up slightly through their own battles.
Adam is back up to Steve after some slight errors and the Team on the pit wall are cheering us both on… well hanging off the wall if I am honest! Going in to Riches Adam spy’s a lot of dust being kicked up and seeing his Team Mate Leon recovering from a slide… a huge slide from dipping a wheel off of the kerb on to the grass, which torpedoed him to the inner Armco barrier at over 70mph, fortunately Leon did not go in to the barrier head on, but glanced the rear of the car and breaking the camber bracket. With yellows being shown for Darren’s stricken car, we all bunched up, but it is soon become obvious that there was a problem for Leon as he pulled off to the side of the track.
Adam continued his pursuit of Steve who now has 8 mini lengths lead over him. Both drivers were pushing as hard as they could, dipping wheels off on to the dusty Norfolk grass, but Adam still managed to gain… slowly on the flying Steve Baker. Finally Adam managed to get a great run on to the start finish straight and pulls out of the tow, diving up the inside of Steve in to Riches. With both drivers trading places Adam tried to make a break for it in the dying laps, but is unable to keep the flying Steve behind him on the straight as he breezed around the outside at the end of Rivets.. There was nothing Adam could do, but manage to claim a solid 10th from 12th on the grid, and an unfortunate DNF for Leon.
With the team working on Leons car, replacing and repairing, the 5hrs soon went between race 1 and race 2. With both cars on the grid, thanks to some very kind competitors and a great team. It looked like it would be a great race.
As the lights change from red… all 23 cars powered off the grid, some making a better start than others, and Max Hunter making a worse start than Mark Weber! As both AL Motorsport drivers passed the slow starting Max in to the first corner. Leon managed to take Damon as he made an error at the hairpin, but Adam couldn’t follow through and slipped in closely behind. Before the next corner Damon had already taken the place back off of Leon, as they went deep in to the infield at Snetterton.
Adam Tried to force Leon to out brake himself, but saw a very out of control Kieren all locked up and side swiping Damon Astin, causing damage to both cars with Kierens coming off slightly worse! With that both Leon and Adam gained the place and follow in line astern on to the back straight. A recovering Max soon gets past both drivers under the bridge (which was always going to happen!) but the team battle commenced once again with Adam showing his nose at the end of the straight in to Riches, but with not quite got enough of a tow to draw level with Leon. Meanwhile the cars in front were 4 abreast where there was simply not enough room… so Graeme exits stage right after a slight tap from Darren. This starts to bring the cars in front back to us… as we chase hard.
Damon was then on Adams boot lid going down the Rivets straight and as Adam had already made his one move to defend, was a sitting duck under Bridge, losing the place. Damon was now chasing Leon hard through the bomb hole, with a great exit on to the straight Damon goes around the outside of Leon and Adam tries to nip through the inside at the same time, but the gap just got smaller. With Damon through, it was back to the inter team battle between Leon and Adam with Leon having the edge at this stage of the race. Finally after 2 or 3 laps, Adam got a good run on to the Rivets Straight and with Leon’s Tow, managed a pass around the outside of Leon under Bridge, but only for Leon to retake the position back again!
Back on to the start finish straight and Adam just passes Leon but again on the outside of Riches and he could do nothing. Again Adam gets a better entry on to the Rivets straight, and soon gets in to Leon’s tow to attempt the outside line again under Bridge, but to no avail! On to the start finish straight and it was De ja vu all over again with an attempted outside manoeuvre. Another lap passed and we headed to the last corner before another lap, Leon went in a little hot and out braked himself, letting Adam get the run down the straight and make the pass stick this time. Adam fended off Leon for another lap, with Gareth closing in fast on the fighting Team Mates…. With a tap from Leon at Williams slowing both drivers up, with some opposite lock and a bit of throttle, Gareth was now breathing down both AL Motorsports tail pipes.. Gareth made a move on Leon on to the Rivets Straight which also put him right behind Adam with the tow. A defensive line stopped Gareth getting past under the Bridge, but the Orange car was getting ever closer. Both drivers came up to the last corner and Adam slowed a little on the Apex so that Gareth could not get a good run on to the straight with the Tow behind Adam… Adam takes 7th place .040 in front of the charging Gareth. Leon coming in a great 9th after the morning shunt.
A great showing from both drivers, keeping Adam in 7th in the championship, and Leon knocking on the door of the top 10!
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