The return of competing!

Competing in real life – I’d been looking forward to it so much. But then, when the time came – I felt unsure. I’ve got used to having to shield…the changes of life… I’m not saying I like them, but the “new normal” has become familiar. There is a new way of doing things from filling out forms and electronic signing on, and so it felt odd to turn up at North Weald and not have anything to do or queues to join, and just needing to get ready to drive.

We entered the event in our MG ZR which Matt has been working hard on during lockdown to help find more performance (for the details, you’re best off heading to his blog at

There were 12 cars in our class with a real mix from Abarths to an S2000 to a Porsche 924. I got in a couple of reasonable practice runs, but I was quite a bit (in sprinting terms, as it was a few seconds) off Matt. This was the first time I’d really driven a car in real life (PS4 doesn’t count!) since March – and I don’t just mean competing, I’ve not even been driving on the road. I thought I might be a bit rusty, but I wanted to find more time!

There were three timed runs with the best run to count, and I started to find a bit more pace. My first timed run saw me slightly quicker than Matt but his second timed run was quicker than me. By our third and final timed run, I’d found more pace to finish 1.86 seconds behind Matt. Still quite a gap in sprinting terms, but it had narrowed during the day.

Going into the final run, the battle for 4th in class was very close with me on 87.64, Mike Thomas in a Proton Satria on 87.86 and Rich Baker on 87.90 in his BMW 320 – less than three tenths between us. Whilst I had the lead, the pressure was on…! I managed to find nearly seven tenths and get down to a 86.97, Mike only found a little to finish on 87.60 and Rich did not manage to improve his time, as he spun.

As much as our inter-house battle is fun, there were 12 of us in the class. Matt finished 3rd in class and I was 4th in the end which were results we were really pleased with. On the day, we were both beaten by an S2000 and a Ford Fiesta 1600T. Our class was 1601 – 2300cc and we are at the lower end of that with no turbo and 1796cc, so pleasing results all round.


Motorsport in lockdown

After four months in lockdown, like many others, I’ve missed my sport. It’s hard to know how much of it is missing the sport and competing and how much is missing friends and the social side, and exactly where the balance lies. However it lies, it’s certainly been a change for everyone (for all the right reasons) as we adjust to a new way of living.

Fairly early on into lockdown we decided to buy a PS4 and steering wheel, pedals and seat. That has proved fun and interesting, and we deliberately went for PS4 games that were more sims than games (Project Cars 2.0 and Dirt Rally 2.0) and it has provided entertainment.

Aside from the PS4, the one thing I’ve really enjoyed is doing a variety of scatters and the like, using clues, plotting and then finding answers via Google Earth or Street View, across a variety of clubs.

My first event came about by accident, when with about two minutes before an event I teamed up with Lucy Fryer. It took me a little while to find a reliable grid reference website that was free for use (I use Streetmap) but we had a good night.

From there, we progressed with the highlight of our seven events together being winning consecutive events; a 1st overall on the Ilkley & District MC Raven Scatter in May followed by winning the South Oxon Car Club Virtual Walkabout a week later.

The Ilkley events made up a Championship, and we came fifth overall which was a great result. The virtual events really did give something to look forward to on a Wednesday evening (as well as a proving a challenge!). The irony is, Lucy and I have now competed together virtually (seven events) far more than we have in real life (one event).

We competed on events run by three clubs over the seven events we did and they would all have been a considerable effort to organise, so I’m grateful for the enjoyment, entertainment and problem solving challenges to keep me occupied and amused.