Constant drizzle and overhead clouds welcomed the first round of the brand new Saxmax championship for 14 – 17 year olds to the damp and treacherous Donington Park circuit. The day was going to be a challenge for all drivers as it was not only the slippery conditions we had to deal with, but it was also the first time we had all driven together as a class.
Early morning free practice allowed all drivers to get to grips with the circuit, but proved very eventful when two drivers rolled their cars on separate occasions within the 15-minute test time.
Timed practice followed afterwards and driving standards had improved dramatically with all drivers respecting each other and no incidents or spins occurred. Unfortunately, I did not have a successful Qualifying as my car provided me with a few difficulties. The rear suspension was set slightly too high which made handling more difficult and an unknown problem caused my car to be a lot slower in a straight line than all the other competitors. My qualifying position of 17th out of 21 meant I had a lot of work to do.
The race came with a mixture of excitement and nerves, mainly due to the manual stationary start all of us had to try and master. Off the start line, I got a surprisingly excellent start and had nearly passed the car in front when I shifted in to 2nd gear. Disaster struck as the engine started to slow after shifting into 3rd gear and I was left trailing behind the rest of the field at the end of Starkey’s straight. To rub salt into the wound, the recovery van that follows at the rear of the start overtook me when I struggled to find a gear that worked.
For the rest of the race, I carried on without having access to 3rd or 4th gears and I had to pull up twice onto the grass, as I did not have 2nd gear at some points. I managed to carry on and take the chequered flag 2 laps down from the winner Liam McMillan who qualified pole and lead the race from start to finish comfortably. However, I had not completed enough of the race to be classed as a finisher. We suspected that the gear problems were down to a gear linkage coming off, but we cannot be sure until the next round at Brands Hatch.
Overall the results and qualifying had been poor, but I had learnt a lot from the first race of the season and really enjoyed racing my car in damp conditions. We have quite a few alterations to make to the car and I believe that the next race will be a better one.