After the previous weekend stage rallying at Wethersfield, we returned for the AutoSOLO, but this time in the MG ZR. I haven’t done many AutoSOLOs recently and felt I’d been off the pace at the previous AutoSOLO at Wethersfield, so it was time to see what I could do!
I hadn’t been planning to enter this event because I’d been at T20 Finals Day (cricket) in Birmingham the day before, which had been a late night having driven home after seeing three T20 matches. I got back about midnight and it was a 6am start to get to Wethersfield, so whilst Matt drove I slept and only woke up when we reached the venue security gate…!
The tests were quite different to the recent Wethersfield AutoSOLO we’d competed on, as they were a bit more open. I think this suits me more, although for some reason on one test I became convinced I could take something flat in first and turn and use the handbrake… well perhaps I should have dabbed the brake, because I went a little wide with understeer. Never mind, sometimes it’s good to have a bold approach!
I felt things were going well and I was on the pace, and it was proved when for the first time EVER I set a fastest class test time. To beat Matt and Mark Peterson, both quick drivers who I respect, was a real achievement. Matt and I were actually trading times on tests with me beating him on quite a few and I felt things were going really well. Matt is always my main marker as we’re driving the same car, so I know the car has whatever pace he sets. I was told a number of times I “seemed more aggressive” than the previous AutoSOLO a few weeks before, and “I should do a stage rally every week before an AutoSOLO” by marshals and fellow competitors. I think it simply does go back to more seat time, more confidence, and being match fit.
If I’d been told in advance I’d finish 3rd in class I would have been delighted, but on the day I ended up slightly disappointed. I was fighting around for 2nd in class but a cone penalty (five seconds) cost me, apparently I ran over the base of it but I genuinely didn’t know I had, and it didn’t move/fall over so I didn’t realise I’d not had a clean run until I had the time card. Still, it was a good result and I had to work hard to ensure I kept third.
Another enjoyable day out, and a vast improvement on my AutoSOLO result a few weeks previously. Next weekend is a weekend off from competing, but we’re out marshalling instead, so still motor sport keeping us busy!