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The Masters Series Top Hat Racing at Brands Hatch - 23rd May 2009 - the XK Challenge

A wonderful sunny weekend of racing, what more could a boy ask for!!

What a great weekend and a first time outing for our new race set-up. Steve, has bought a Mobile Home and we now have the privilege to be able to stay at the circuit, without the mad dash of having to drive there on the morning of the race. Sheer luxury!!

This was an even bigger advantage at Brands last weekend, when we realised that we were the first Quali and race of the day.

We travelled down on the Friday afternoon to set up shop, this time with the Mobile Home and Awning attached to the MWS Marquee and my mobile workshop Range Rover next to it. Even better was that I managed to blag it with the Paddock Organisers as “Trade”. So we had the best position, with Running water and electrics for the Motor Home.

And so it was that we alighted at 05:30 hrs (Oh my goodness!!)! But it was a beautiful warm day with a perfect blue sky.

Read and his Dad arrived about 05:45. Read’s Dad Arthur had flown over from Vancouver, Canada and joined him for race day.

Next up was signing-on at 07:00 hrs and a NEW Scrutineer. I’ve said before, that the most nerve-racking part of racing for me is getting the car through “Scruti”. Well, looking all nice and shiny (Thank you Dave at CKL), which I’m sure does help when you present a clean and tidy car for the “Inspectors” we managed a clean bill of health.

Some final checks over the car, such as tyre pressures, petrol (it does help) etc, and we went for the first Qualifier of the day at 09:15 hrs. This time Read had decided to qualify the car, rather than start the car at the back of the grid. (Remember, this is only Read’s second race, so it’s “Steady as she goes”, for the first few races).

Also, our main objective is to get race “Signatures” for Read so that he can move from a National ‘B’ (Novice) License to a National ‘A’, which will allow him to race at Spa-Francorchamps in September. But to get signatures, firstly we have to finish races. So my driving has to reflect Read’s objective and for me to stay out of trouble.

I must say that the Brands Hatch ‘Indy’ circuit does not suit Jaguar XK’s, as the circuit is very short and tight for a long-legged 50’s lady, who prefers the longer, faster circuits of the UK and Europe.

I did my mandatory three laps and then let Read set the grid position time. We qualified on the second row from the rear and, I believe, a safe place to start the race.

It was getting quite balmy by this time and with the temperatures reaching about 24 Degrees on Saturday, we were in for a hottish race in more ways than one.

Read started the race and positioned himself well to pick up any pieces from other cars further up the grid. He had a good stint and when it was time to come in for me to take over, I launched the car for the second stint. By lap 4 I had our lap time down from 1:04.85 to 1:03.60 on a very slippery surface especially around ‘Clearways’ but making good progress in chasing down Messrs Skipworth and Youle and Claire and Andy Keith-Lucas.

BUT, twas not to be as Chris Scragg in his beautiful E-Type lunched it in the ‘Kitty-Litter’ coming out of Clearways, (I said it was slippery) and the Safety Car came out. I’m afraid that was my assault on those in front and my race over as they couldn’t extricate the car before the Chequered Flag.

However, we managed the objective of gaining yet another race signature for Read. So it’s four down and two to go before Spa. We also managed to hall ourselves up six places and finished 6th in Class and more valuable Championship points.

Our next race will be at Castle Combe on
Saturday 13th June 2009

Hope to see you there!

John D R.

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