This was my first ever visit to the circuit. With a drenched car unwilling to start, I’d managed one session of testing in pouring rain on the Friday. In my continuing chase for the championship title, I went into the weekend needing as many points as possible from this and the second race if I am to stand any chance of catching Hugh and Pete. Bolstering the grid were part-timers Karl and Andrew but we didn’t quite make six cars – which would have given us full points – as local man Alastair had sold his car earlier in the week.
Qualifying was the only activity for us on the Saturday and the rain had mostly disappeared, to be replaced by intermittent clouds and sun. I did most of the session without a need to come into the pits (both brakes and tyres had already seen action at earlier rounds) but in Parc Ferme I was annoyed at myself when I discovered I’d qualified only 4th in class from 5 entries.
I knew that Moluto team mate John was excellent off the line and was likely to get the jump on me at the start of the first of our two races on Sunday – and that’s exactly what happened. He stayed just ahead of me through the first corner but I went up his inside at The Banking and then grabbed the lead – with a slight exchange of paint along the way. It was then a case of maximum effort to catch Pete and Karl up front – who were occupied with their own little battle for a couple of laps. With Karl leading – although very familiar with Anglesey – this gave me some hope as I reckoned I might be able to cash in on his rustiness.
Pete got past Karl as the latter ran slightly wide on the loooong right-hander at the back of the circuit and we all bunched up yet again on the up-hill approach to Rocket. Karl had admitted he was having problems getting Corkscrew right and I nearly went into the back of him there on lap 5. His car became unsettled at Rocket on the next lap and I took 2nd place from him up his inside on the exit. With Karl now on my tail, I tried to reel Pete in, occasionally locking up as I braked ever later and harder. I was absolutely determined to beat Karl – and grab the extra point by finishing 2nd – and at the eventual flag, I finished 9.2 seconds behind Pete but just 0.8 seconds in front of Karl. With five in the class, as well as the vital points, I got a pot to take home with me.
I started Race 2 on the front row but sadly I just couldn’t match the pace I’d managed in Race 1 and Pete and Karl slowly pulled away leaving me to watch them build a lead and leave me with a 3rd place finish.
So, after the disappointment of qualifying, I left Anglesey with a trophy, two podiums and a vital 22 championship points. I’ve closed the gap to John to only three points, so I can pass him at Silverstone, which is a triple-header. Whether I’m able to catch Pete or Hugh is another question – but I’m not giving up on the Championship title until the last round is done and dusted.
Photos kindly provided by Neil Brownlee.
Full in-car footage from Race 1: