Snetterton - 9th April 2000

Practice | The Race | Results

I had booked a whole day testing at Snetterton to try out the suspension changes that I'd made before the last race, and also to test out a modified gear stick in an effort to eliminate the problem that I suffer changing from 1st to 2nd gear at the start of every race. Fortunately, the circuit was available on Saturday 8th April - the day prior to our meeting there.

A couple of laps of the circuit proved that I'd made matters worse, and I couldn't change gear properly now, as the gear stick was too short and too far away. This meant a trip down to Terry Nightingale's in Saffron Walden, who had very kindly removed a remote gear shift from one of his cars for me to borrow for the race. This was fitted, and I eventually managed to get in about 15 laps. My times were quite a lot slower than my previous best for the circuit, which was annoying, but I decided to see what happened on Sunday.

Sunday morning dawned, and the forecasted rain showers didn't look like they would appear. As my race was the second of the day, it meant an early start - scrutineering was at 8:45am. I was first in line for the assembly area for practice, which was just as well, as my car failed noise testing. A reading of 120dBs was slightly above the 105dB limit! Fortunately, Ivan and Matt Gilmour of Procomp Motorsport were kind enough to lend me some exhaust packing which enabled me to pass the noise test on the second attempt.

Practice was fairly non-eventful - I managed to get some clear laps in, but the circuit felt quite slippery, and I still didn't have enough confidence to really push hard. I managed to get down to a 1:23.942, which put me 11th on the grid out of 23, but I should have been quicker. Steve Taylor got pole - no surprise there, but Jonathan Edwards managed a brilliant performance to get 2nd. Barry Obey managed an excellent 5th, although Snetterton is his local circuit - where he also marshals at, so his performance wasn't that surprising! Martin Smith showed that his good showing at Mallory wasn't a one-off by being quickest in class B - managing to beat Caterham ace Martin Stewart who was returning to kits after winning the championship several years ago.

Jonathan Barnett - he of Channel 4's "Deals on Wheels" fame - had a spin which resulted in him bending a drive shaft, and Robert Putnam's head gasket blew, which he managed to replace before the race.

The Race | Results | Practice

I lined up on the grid, in my usual spot just behind Charles Sterling, and after a bit of a delay, the race started. My new gear change didn't help my start, and several people passed me as I tried to select 2nd gear. A few cars went off at Riches - the first corned, which meant a bit of avoiding action, and I set off in pursuit of the cars that had got passed me at the start. I got passed Richard Daw on the approach to Russell, and passed a couple more cars. I was now behind Martin Stewart, and was looking forward to dicing with him - his battles in the Caterham series are legendary! Unfortunately the race was stopped due to a horrifying accident suffered by Barry Obey. Mark Arden's car had got out of shape as he tried to avoid an out-of control Nick Flynn, and Mark's front right wheel touched the rear left of Barry's. This sent Barry into a series of rolls, at about 90mph. His self-built full rollcage undoubtably saved his life, but he still suffered concussion, cracked ribs and severe bruising. The race was red-flagged to enable the medical team to safely remove Barry from his wrecked car, and after about 20 minutes, the race was restarted.

Again, I had a problem selecting 2nd gear, and several cars passed me going into the 1st corner. I was now behind Charles Sterling, and we were still together as we went into Coram - the fast right hander - on the 2nd lap of the restarted race. Suddenly, my car lost grip totally, and speared off the circuit, straight into the barrier. It was a heavy impact, but my full race harness did it's job and I was able to get out the car immediately. Glancing round, I saw Charles Sterling's car embedded in the barrier about 10 feet to the right of mine, and Martin Stewart's and Paul Gill's cars were sitting on the grass slightly further along. The race was immediately stopped, and the true heroes of motor sport - the marshals, who are all unpaid volunteers, were on the scene very quickly to ensure that we were OK.

It turned out that the oil filter on Paul's engine had split, and the contents of his sump had been dropped onto the circuit. As both Charles and I were following other cars, we had no warning, and couldn't take any avoiding action at all. We were both checked out by the very efficient medical team, and given a clean bill of health, apart from a bit of whiplash.

The front left corner of my car was destroyed - the chassis rail had been moved some 6 inches into the engine bay, and the wheel was embedded in the chassis at 90 degrees to the right one. Charles' car was slightly better off, but will still require extensive body and chassis repairs. However, looking at the damage to Barry's car, we both realised that it could have been a lot worse. To make matters worse for the kit series, several more cars suffered serious damage. In practice for the class A race, David Robinson T-boned Matthew Lewis after Matthew span, and this resulted in extensive chassis damage for both cars - fortunately without any injury. Additionally, Jonathan Christie-Rundel's car caught fire during the class A race.

After all this carnage, no-one was particularly interested in the results - everyone was more concerned with Barry's condition. In the end, it was declared after 1 lap of the restarted race.

Repairing my car will probably take about 2 months, which means missing the next 2 races - Brands Hatch and Lydden Hill.

Results | Practice | The Race

Qualifying Times

Fastest Lap
1 C Steve Taylor Sylva Striker 1:21.608 86.10
2 C Jonathan Edwards Westfield SE 1:22.276 85.41
3 C Clive Hudson Sylva Phoenix 1:22.529 85.14
4 C Tim Harmer Sylva Striker 1:22.737 84.93
5 C Barry Obey Sylva Striker 1:22.896 84.77
6 C Paul Gill Sylva Striker 1:22.996 84.66
7 C Andrew Owen Sylva Phoenix 1:23.367 84.29
8 B Martin Smith LA Gold 1:23.503 84.15
9 B Martin Stewart Sylva Phoenix 1:23.739 83.91
10 B Charles Sterling Sylva Phoenix 1:23.821 83.83
11 C Edward Hasler Westfield SEiW 1:23.942 83.71
12 C Allan Lloyd Westfield SE 1:25.553 82.13
13 B Mark Arden Sylva Phoenix 1:25.823 81.88
14 B Paul Evans Sylva Phoenix 1:26.050 81.66
15 B Ian Creba Vindicator Sprint 1:26.260 81.46
16 C Jonathan Barnett Sylva Phoenix 1:26.907 80.85
17 B Nick Flynn Sylva Striker 1:27.216 80.57
18 B David Chapman Sylva Phoenix 1:27.393 80.40
19 C Richard Daw Sylva Phoenix 1:27.745 80.08
20 C Nigel Brown Leader 400 1:29.148 78.82
21 C Simon Childs Sylva Striker 1:31.447 76.84
22 C Andrew Hiley Quantum Extreme 1:36.890 72.52
23 B Robert Putnam Vindicator Sprint 1:42.777 68.37

Race Results

Race Time
Fastest Lap
1 C Clive Hudson Sylva Phoenix 1 1:29.305 1:29.305
2 C Tim Harmer Sylva Striker 1 1:29.637 1:29.637
3 C Steve Taylor Sylva Striker 1 1:29.647 1:29.647
4 C Andrew Owen Sylva Phoenix 1 1:31.052 1:31.052
5 C Jonathan Edwards Westfield SE 1 1:31.276 1:31.276
6 C Paul Gill Sylva Striker 1 1:32.684 1:32.684
7 C Allan Lloyd Westfield SE 1 1:33.203 1:33.203
8 B Martin Stewart Sylva Phoenix 1 1:33.524 1:33.524
9 B Nick Flynn Sylva Striker 1 1:34.224 1:34.224
10 C Richard Daw Sylva Phoenix 1 1:36.248 1:36.248
11 B Ian Creba Vindicator Sprint 1 1:36.791 1:36.791
12 C Richard Welch Westfield SEiW 1 1:37.116 1:37.116
13 B Paul Evans Sylva Phoenix 1 1:37.990 1:37.990
14 B Charles Sterling Sylva Phoenix 1 1:38.335 1:38.335
15 C Edward Hasler Westfield SEiW 1 1:38.844 1:38.844
16 C Andrew Hiley Quantum Extreme 1 1:40.366 1:40.366
17 B David Chapman Sylva Phoenix 1 1:41.288 1:41.288
18 C Nigel Brown Leader 400 1 1:43.367 1:43.367
19 C Simon Childs Sylva Striker 1 1:43.763 1:43.763
20 B Robert Putnam Vindicator Sprint 1 1:43.961 1:43.961