Qualifying 5th (14th Overall) | Race 8th (14th Overall)
Bit of a learning curve this weekend… it was the first time we’d entered into the 750 Motor Club Roadsports series, and it bought about a completely different set of challenges to the ones we usually face. In contrast to the Classic Sports Car Club series, where the Mazda can out maneuver most of the grid, the Roadsports grid is much more evenly matched. In many ways, this was the reason for entering but it came with a fresh challenge.
We were entered into Class C which allows for a maximum power to weight ratio of 200hp / ton. You’ll see from my ‘Race Car’ page that the Mazda is running about 188, which puts us roughly in the middle. We learned that most of the competitors were running almost exactly on the threshold and added weight to ensure they didn’t exceed it. Clearly this was an area we needed to work on in order to bring the Mazda in line with the others.
The first opportunity we had to know where we’d stack up against the competition was in qualifying, and the answer was pretty average!! I didn’t get a particularly clear lap and Rhys struggled a bit to post a time any quicker than the grid of standard race MX5’s also competing that weekend. Slightly deflated, we headed for the bacon roll van to work out what we’d do differently for the race and what our thoughts were on the championship so far.
One of the major differences with the Roadsports championship is that you have to be stationary in the pits for a minimum of 60 seconds (unlike CSCC where you can go as quick as possible). With this in mind we thought we’d try swapping round the shifts. I would drive first, and then Rhys second. I had the most confidence in the car and so I could go for the early moves, then Rhys could take over and try and match my lap times. So, plan sorted.
The start line at Cadwell Park is pretty narrow and the first start was chaos with cars everywhere. I captured it on my GoPro (below). My launch was pretty decent but got blocked by the RX8 ahead of me which dropped the revs out of my power band and it struggled to pull up to speed again. When I saw cars spinning ahead I played it fairly cautiously as I didn’t fancy wrecking the car after driving 100m in this championship. Picked my way between a few cars and out the other side. Red flags then came out and we were back on the grid for a second start.
At this point my GoPro played up and so I don’t have the restarted race. Luckily with cameras everywhere I can piece together footage from YouTube below. The first lap was busy with the car behind me making a move through the woodland section and completely wiping out the car in front;
Once lap 1 was out the way things calmed down a bit which was a relief. I caught a Ginetta and Mini ahead and set about trying to find a way past. It was a weird sensation to match another car for straight line speed as in the Classic Sports Car Club series we are always left on the straights by the Porsche’s, etc. Whilst I could match them for speed, they were as good as I was on the brakes (the Mini was actually slightly better). I’d have to work hard to set up a move. Captured from a Clio behind me, I pulled off a move through the woodland section as that was the only section on track that I could get close enough.
Feeling happy with how the first half had panned out I dived into the pits. I forgot to mention earlier that we didn’t have anyone to help in the pit stops this time round and so I had to jump out and try and slacken the belts for Rhys. In short, it was a disaster as one of the belts wouldn’t loosen enough and we were stationary for 60 seconds longer than needed. It tumbled as down the order and out of contention completely. Rhys made back a few places and we finished 8th in Class C.
I actually enjoyed the racing in this championship a lot more than the Classic Sports Car Club as the cars were more closely matched. We need to ensure that the Mazda is closer to the upper power threshold to stand a chance against the competition though. We’re about 1.5 seconds off the class leaders pace currently but I’ve got some ideas that I think will close that gap. Watch this space :)