OK, OK, I’ve given it away in the title of this post, if you didn’t already know (where have you been?!?).
You’ll be pleased to know I have to keep this one short! Tomorrow we head off to Holland for the second round of the British Rallycross Championship with our continental friends at Valkenswaard, but I’ve struggled to find time to update my blog on Lydden. So here is day two from round 1…
Sunday at Lydden Hill is always a little more laid back, even though it’s the day of the finals. The track can’t see action until 10:30am, so we always get a bit of a lay in. Although with the clocks going forward, it wasn’t really noticeable.
Having had two solid results on Saturday, I really just needed to consolidate my position for the final. Heat 3 saw me line up in the middle of the grid on the outside, with me following someone (I recall Chris Mullen) into the joker on lap one. The race was uneventful and just after the track had been damped down (no excuse, but we did dry it for the second half of the heat…!), so I ended up 6th out of 11 overall in heat 3.
Heat 2 and 3 taught me yet more. Even though I crossed the line first in my race, the overall race time is crucial to the heat. You have to give it everything – whether someone is on your arse or not – at all times.
So to the final, and I lined up 5th on the grid – outside of middle row. Graham on pole, then Tristan and Chris alongside. Behind and to my right was Richy Dolan who had done fantastically well on his first rallycross event. My strategy was simple; go for it, see how the start pans out and play it by ear.
As it turned out, I got a good start, and opted not to follow Chris into the joker. Instead, I’d out-dragged Richy, and followed Graham and Tristan into Chesson’s. They both ran wide on the exit, and I carried good speed, finding myself alongside Tristan on the approach to Devil’s Elbow. Now that was a first…!!
We had a little rub, but I was on the outside and had to yield, leaving a small orange marker on his Goody-mobile and having my mirror pop.
Then it was simple. Stick with them. Let them drag you along. They’re not going to hold you up. Get clean space. Choose your moment for the joker. Hope for the best on exit.
On lap 3, Tristan (still behind Graham) opted for the joker. Being just a couple or three seconds behind, I opted for the same strategy. Coming out of the joker, I’d dropped behind both Dale and Richy, but knowing full well they still had to do theirs. Where was Mr Mullen? He was my main concern and nowhere to be seen in front or behind. Forget that now, crack on Rob…
Duly, Dale and then Richy took their joker and I returned to 3rd position. In my mirrors, they were far enough away for me to relax. I did slow down – contrary to my “go flat out from start to finish”.
This was the Suzuki Swift Rallycross Championship A-final at Lydden Hill. My home circuit. On the anniversary of my first race. In a podium position. I had nothing to gain and everything to lose. I calmly crested Hairy Hill, pitched back down and into Paddock, before finally acknowledging I’d crossed the line 3rd. It took a moment for that to click and accept it was the last lap and I had finished on the podium. Job done. I just couldn’t believe my weekend had come together as planned.
So here it is for your viewing pleasure. My onboard footage from the A-final. I think you could say I was a little bit pleased at the line… Squeals of delight sums it up!
I simply couldn’t have done it without the help, support and guidance of my mentor, Graham Strugnell. Thank you for your perseverance over the past year, and for your belief in me. I hope I’ve finally proved I’m really trying!!
Valkenswaard beckons, and as much as I’d love to go one (or two) better, the competition is stiff. Mr Mullen’s gear selector problem will be fixed. Darren Scott and my Belgian friend Kris Fruru both return to the Swifts, simply because they cannot stay away!
It’s an absolutely brilliant class, and I am so chuffed to have my first trophy.
Bring it on!