Local drivers are storming ahead

Published on: 05 May 2014

downend drivers

The closest round of the AutoSolo championship this year was held at Mendips Raceway in the hills to the South of Bristol writes Andy Laurence

James Hurford from Downend was to debut his Mazda MX5, whilst Sandy Smith from Mangotsfield was looking forward to another season in his trusty Abarth.  Steve Conner from Downend was also entered in his Clio 172.  Sandy explained he had "some problems with my dual mass flywheel" that prevented him competing at the first event of the year. 

This was the first of Bristol Motor Club's visits to Mendips Raceway for the Winter Autosolo, which had several new attributes, as Sandy explained; "Mendips Raceway is a Banger racing track with zero runoff and solid steel barriers around, this was compounded with a damp track which, when mixed with the oily surface, made it quite slippery."

Sandy was placed in the over 2 litre class, which he described as "a lot of 4WD turbo nutter cars and which also includes fellow Bristol Motor Club member, Dave Greenslade from Nailsea, typically the benchmark for good times in Autosolo" but Sandy likes a challenge and he described his day for us.

"Round 1 had a decent flow to it, but traction was low.  I put some times in for the three tests getting quicker and quicker.  I was close, 2 seconds off the class lead and 0.2 behind my nearest championship rival, Haydn Marks." 

"Round 2 was the reverse layout to round 1 but the rain really came down hard and this made the track a lot more difficult.  On the second attempt, I was a bit more enthusiastic at which point I entered a slide which I struggled to hold and upon recovery picked up a wrong test.  This left me needing to put in a good time on 3rd attempt if I was to claw any time back.  I managed to claw back 0.5 seconds."

"Round 3 was another nice flowing layout.  I went for a second attempt and popped in a 54.5.  I felt like it was on the edge and spectators commented on how much work I was putting in to keep it on course. Dave, my rival for the class win, came back with a clipped cone so his 2nd time was not so hot at 61.2 which meant for both of us it was all about the third run for the class win.  Out I went for the third run, eased back a little and banked a 55.3 whilst Dave came in with a 55.8.  Taking the two best times for the round I managed to pull back 2.6 seconds for a class win and 5th overall!"

Sandy's next event is on March 16 at Mitcheldean and he his hoping for more rain!  James Hurford had a brilliant debut in his Mazda, winning his class in dominant style and finishing 10th overall.  Steve Conner managed 6th place overall and 2nd in class.  A storming result for the Downend contingent.

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