Toyota Sprint Series 2008 Round 3 – Teesside Autodrome

nospoiler_49b039225f04d-lightboxSaturday morning dawned cloudy but dry and we set off from my parents. We had a good, uneventful drive up to Middlesborough. Living in Norfolk, you forget what it’s like to have good roads to get you places instead of B roads with tractors!

Phil noticed that a few of the MR2 Mk2 competitors had removed the rear spoiler. It was something he had been considering as it’s a weighty lump and really offers no benefit to the kind of driving we are doing. So when we got to the track (early), he decided to remove Humphrey’s spoiler too. Shame he hadn’t thought about this at home as there was lots of lovely moss and general muck where the spoiler had been, and we could have cleaned it up. Never mind.

The paddock had started to fill up now; it was tiny as Teesside is mainly a kart circuit so there isn’t much room for full sized cars. Sakura had been relegated to the car park.

In no time at all, we attended the briefing, in which we were told the track was three-dimensional, which was interesting. I dashed to the car park for Sakura to do the sighting laps, and took a fellow competitor with me for advice. The track certainly was three dimensional, with a nice left hander leading up quite a steep hill, ending with a right turn, almost a hairpin going back down. Fun.

I felt a lot more confident on this track than I did at the last event. I’ve always enjoyed hills so maybe that was something to do with it! The track was challenging but you had time to think, which wasn’t how I felt at Barkston. In fact I can hardly remember the layout of Barkston but I can remember Teesside. From the start there was a very tight chicane, then a small straight to a right hander, and then the left going up the hill. At the top of the hill it was completely blind going right, so a little daunting at first, but then into a very long straight. At the end of the straight was another tight chicane, which was a total pain was it was difficult to spot. After the chicane was a super-long right hander and then a small straight to the finish.

This was my first time driving Humphrey with the new clutch and I successfully managed to stall him within 3 seconds of being in the driving seat. Fortunately that was driving to the start, as opposed to driving off the start! I did have a few bunny rabbit starts though. My face must have been a picture!

After about 3 good runs, the rain came down. And did it rain! We took shelter under a nearby competitor’s gazebo. Of course my nerves set in then and I did quite a slow time. My times in this event had improved greatly and I was almost competitive. About 3 seconds off everyone else, but it’s better than the 14 seconds I had been in the first round! You can tell how slow I was in the wet though, as my times were comparable to the other female Mk1 driver who had either spun or gone off in each of her first runs.

My most memorable moments were just after the rain, at the top of the hill I suddenly felt like I wasn’t quite moving ‘right’ and realised I had gone into a 4 wheel drift! Yahoo! Thing is I then got all excited and got a fit of the giggles which stopped me concentrating on the rest of the track! On my next run I had a total brain lapse and thought I’d missed the chicane, slowed down too much, then realised I hadn’t. Duh.

Phil had some great times throughout the day, however never improved on his first run. Not that this mattered too much as he managed to scoop first in class, and a whopping trophy to boot. The male driver of one of the other Mk1s in our class got runner up, the female driver of that car got fastest female. It’s a good car!

It had stayed light and so no need for headlights, and we managed to get back in time for last orders at the pub. I’m just wondering what the Winter event will be like – might be needing snow chains for that hill!

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Vix Hoult