Pembrey 8/5/99

Practice | The Race | Results

I had booked myself in for a day of testing at Pembrey on the Friday before the race. I was still short of time in the car, and needed to set it up. One thing I had noticed at Brands Hatch was that the brakes were biased too far forward, so the rear brakes were not being used fully, causing the front wheels to lock up under hard braking. I drove down to the circuit, which is situated in the south west of Wales, on Thursday afternoon, and I was encouraged to see the weather was fine. However at about 1am, I was woken by my tent being battered by strong winds and heavy rain, and this didn't lay off much until morning.

The rain had stopped by the time I got up, at about 8am, but the circuit was still very wet. I decided to save a bit of money, and changed my testing to just the afternoon in order for the circuit to dry a bit. I had hardly driven the car, and it wasn't even set up for the dry, so I didn't want to risk damaging it by going off. By lunch time the circuit was dry and I got ready to go out, however as I got changed in my tent, it started to rain quite heavily. I decided to wait until it stopped, which it did after I had sat out 2 of the 5 sessions. I then managed to get about 20 laps in, but noticed the car wouldn't start at the end of the last session. Further investigation proved that my alternator wasn't charging the battery, so to get the car through the weekend, I decided to charge the battery by connecting it to my Land Rover and running the engine on that for a couple of hours. This seemed to do the trick.

The weather had got worse, and it rained almost continuously from about 10:30am on Saturday to sometime in the early hours on Sunday. A large area of the paddock was now under several inches of water, and the grass areas where we had parked had turned into mud baths, which made walking around very unpleasant. My tent also couldn't withstand the onslaught of rain, and started to leak. Fortunately, both our races were on the Sunday, so I spent Saturday trying to stay dry, and praying for better weather for Sunday. This seemed to work, as when I woke on Sunday, it was sunny, and quite pleasant.

Kit cars (classes B and C) were due out on track at 9am, so having jump started my car to conserve it's battery, I waited in the assembly area, then it was time to get out onto the circuit. The circuit hadn't dried out that much, and was quite slippery, so I took it quite easily. I was beginning to put some faster laps in, when exiting the bend that leads onto the long back straight the car pulled to the left and went onto the grass. It made some funny noises, and a look at the front left wheel soon showed why - it had appeared to have collapsed. The car ended up safely on the grass, half way along the straight, and I jumped out and climbed over the barrier to safety. When the session finished I examined the wheel, and it appeared that the bottom ball joint had pulled out the upright, causing the suspension to collapse at the front left. I was very relieved that it hadn't happened at the fast right hander that I was approaching, as it could have been quite nasty.

Examining the car in the paddock, after it was picked up and delivered to my trailer by a big forklift truck, showed that a washer was missing from the upright - I initially believed it had not been supplied by Westfield, but a phone call to them on the following day proved that I had fitted it in the wrong place - a simple mistake that could have resulted in an expensive crash. I also noticed that as the suspension had collapsed, it had bent the top wishbone, and had put the top ball joint under a lot of stress. I decided it was too much of a risk to race the car with this damage, and pulled out of the two races.

The Race | Results | Practice

With my car damaged, it gave me a great opportunity to watch "my" race, and give a bit of support to the drivers that I knew. Mark Owen had claimed pole position - a brilliant achievement in his second season of kit car racing, and he was out in the lead for several laps until he suffered a potentially very serious accident. His car suddenly slowed, and pulled off the circuit - only just managing to stop before hitting the barriers, and this was caused by his propshaft breaking and coming through the transmission tunnel. It peeled back the aluminium cover like paper, and luckily the only injury Mark received was a thump on his arm. Unfortunately, Frank Steele Mortimer went off at the fast Honda curve, and crashed heavily, causing considerable damage to his car - fortunately without any injuries to himself. It is always sad to see someone damage their car - more so when you know how much effort and time has gone into building it in the first place. Hopefully he will be able to rebuild it and get back out racing again soon. Clive Hudson drove a good race to win, ahead of Mark's father, Andrew (the reigning Kit Car Champion), who was out for the first time in his new Zetec powered car. Martin Smith also had a good race, finishing in a very respectable 7th position. It was also great to watch Mike Topp fight his way through the field after starting from last place on the grid due to problems in practice.

With 3 cars not finishing the first race, and my car withdrawn, the grid for the 2nd race was pretty depleted. Another rain shower made things quite slippery out there, and unfortunately Martin went off, and when trying to rejoin the circuit managed to hit the car of Charles Stirling, resulting in some damage to the chassis of Martin's car causing him to retire. Mike Topp went on to win this race, ahead of the Zetec powered cars of Steve Taylor and Andrew Owen.

Results | Practice | The Race

Qualifying Times

Fastest Lap
1 B Mark Owen Sylva Striker 1:12.29 72.50
2 C Steve Taylor Sylva Striker 1:12.69 72.10
3 B Clive Hudson Sylva Phoenix 1:12.89 71.91
4 C Tim Harmer Sylva Striker 1:12.99 71.81
5 B Nick Flynn Sylva Striker 1:13.73 71.09
6 B Frank Steele Mortimer Sylva Mk4 1:14.15 70.68
7 B Charles Stirling Sylva Phoenix 1:14.27 70.57
8 B Martin Smith Vindicator Sprint 1:14.30 70.54
9 C Andrew Owen Sylva Phoenix 1:14.82 70.05
10 C Paul Gill Sylva Striker 1:15.69 69.25
11 C Edward Hasler Westfield SEiW 1:16.34 68.66
12 C Jonathan Edwards Westfield SE 1:17.89 67.29
13 C Alan James Sylva Striker 1:18.29 66.95
14 B Richard Daw Sylva Phoenix 1:24.99 61.67

Race Results

Race Time
Fastest Lap
1 B Clive Hudson Sylva Phoenix 12 13:38.95 1:07.04 78.18
2 C Andrew Owen Sylva Phoenix 12 13:43.14 1:06.80 78.46
3 C Tim Harmer Sylva Striker 12 13:46.85 1:07.55 77.59
4 C Steve Taylor Sylva Striker 12 13:51.00 1:06.74 78.53
5 B Mike Topp Westfield SE 12 13:58.70 1:06.87 78.38
6 B Nick Flynn Sylva Striker 12 14:02.21 1:07.05 78.17
7 B Martin Smith Vindicator Sprint 12 14:14.23 1:09.63 75.27
8 B Charles Stirling Sylva Phoenix 12 14:17.03 1:09.10 75.85
9 C Paul Gill Sylva Striker 12 14:19.78 1:07.73 77.38
10 C Jonathan Edwards Westfield SE 12 14:35.57 1:10.33 74.52