After leaving the HQ late on Saturday afternoon, the team quickly set up in the paddock and headed off again for dinner at a nearby pub. We then retired to our tents to escape the chilly April night.
We rose early to find bright sunshine and set to work checking the car. After finding no issues, the car was taken to scrutineering and approved for racing on the day. A quick clean was all we had time for before sending the car out for qualifying. The Riley’s times fell throughout the session as the track warmed up, and our racer qualified 6th on the grid and 2nd in Class, auguring well for the race later in the afternoon.
The intervening time between qualifying and the race was filled by networking in the paddock, learning from other teams and watching an excellent A35 Academy and ‘A’ Series Challenge race, run by the HRDC. In addition there was even time for some pit stop practice - and some more revision for our imminent university exams!
As the cars were called to assemble for the race, the weather continued to remain sunny and warm. After one final spanner check and a good polish the Riley was off, and the team walked up to the pit lane to meet the car in the collection area. With mirrors adjusted, pin out of the Lifeline extinguisher system, and no last minute issues, we set up in the pit lane to wait for the start. The Riley had a great launch - and nearly beat the British Motor Heritage A40 of John Yea into the first corner! An excellent first stint saw the Riley up to 4th overall before the compulsory pit stop, and we pulled the car in as soon as the pit stop window opened. The stop was very smooth, although not quite as fast as some of our competitors. However, when we tried to start the engine again, we were all shocked to find it died immediately. It took another 30 precious seconds to fix the fuelling issue and get the car out again, by which point, on the shorter Indy circuit at Brands, we had slipped down to 11th place.
The Riley battled valiantly to climb back up through the field in the remaining time, and it regained 6th place overall and 1st in Class by the end of the race - which the team were delighted with! The, to top off an excellent day, ex-OUMF members Tim Cotgrove and John Puliston finished in 8th place overall and 2nd in their Class with their Ford Anglia – aptly nicknamed ‘Merkel’! OUMF co-founder Tim very kindly presented us with some more suspension sensors too, which will no doubt be extremely useful in setting the car up to its optimum.
Brands was another brilliant ‘real racing’ experience, and the hiccup during the pit stop gave us all cause for much ‘what if’ speculation as to what the result might have been without the delay!
Our great thanks go as ever to our HRDC patron Julius Thurgood, to Grove and Dean Race Insurance, Dunlop Tyres - and the host of wonderful OUMF supporters whose help in so many ways allowed us to be there.