On Thursday 10th September Alex travelled to Snetterton Race Circuit in Norfolk ready for the test day on the Friday prior to the race weekend.
In the first test session on Friday Alex was only able to complete five laps due to engine issues cropping up. The team discovered that there was dirt in the carburettor which was causing the problems. Later in the day in another testing session where there were more cars than just Formula Vees Alex was almost taken out by an RGB race car. The driver of the RGB did an extremely dangerous move, pulling across in front of Alex just before Brundle then hit the brakes at the 300 metre board whereas Alex was due to brake at the 100 metre bored which was closer to the corner. Luckily when Alex saw him move across he hit the brakes but almost went in to the back of him.
On to qualifying on Saturday Alex managed to get out at the front of the group, he was third in the queue to leave the pit lane. Overnight it had rained and had only stopped about an hour before he went out to qualify so the track was fairly greasy. It was Alex’s first ever time at Snetterton and he was unsure on how to tackle the track. The two competitors in front of Alex were very cautious, however Alex decided to go straight away and passed the two competitors in front of him. Alex managed to get a good gap but then unfortunately misjudged Oggies and had a spin. Through having his little spin Alex lost the gap and came back on in the middle of the pack. He started his lap, misjudged his braking into turn one and almost collided with his team mate Paul Taylor. Luckily Alex avoided the contact, he went onto the grass and into the gravel trap but managed to get himself out and he returned to the pits straight away. The team checked over the car and sent Alex on his way again.
Unfortunately after leaving the pits as he came out of the first corner his clutch and accelerator dropped and stuck open just before Montreal. He turned the car off and came to a stop, the pedals still would not come up so Alex decided to restart the engine. As soon as it started back up the pedals came back up and he got going again. Alex’s first idea was to try and get a lap in, so he went ahead to start a new lap, as he got just before the first corner on the new lap. He turned the engine off, hit the brakes and put the car at an angle so he could scrub most of the speed off before he hit the gravel trap. It worked but now Alex was beached in the gravel, this meant his qualifying session was over. When his car was checked over by the team to see why the pedals were getting stuck, they discovered it was because some gravel had got in behind the pedals.
Before Alex was allowed to do the race he had to go to race control and ask to be let out, when he asked race control they agreed he could race if he did 3 laps behind the course car during the lunch break because of him being a novice driver to the track. Lunch break came and Alex did his 3 laps behind the course car so that he would be allowed to race.
For race one Alex lined up on the grid 18th because of the disastrous qualifying session. He got an okay start but had to react quickly as someone ahead of him stalled on the grid. Alex went to the right to avoid the car but couldn’t turn much because he had Tony Mitchell alongside him and he pulled in front of Alex. Bill Stenning was a little slow off the line so Alex and Tony both got past him by the first corner. Alex tried to get the undercut on Sam Engineer coming out of Montreal but it didn’t work, then he saw Paul Smith in his mirrors. He made the choice to let Paul go as he is a front runner and is a lot faster. It ended up being a good thing to let him past as he forced Sam Engineer into making a mistake which allowed Alex to get a good run on Sam coming out of Palmer and over took him on the brakes into Agostini.
Alex’s next target was Wesley Burton, he made a mistake coming onto the back straight and Alex got a good tow and made a late move into Brundle to get past. They almost touched but they gave each enough room and respect. On to the next lap and Alex managed to pull Tony Mitchell in tremendously, he managed to pass him at Montreal. Ahead of Alex, James Cater and Martin Snarey were battling hard so he managed to catch them pretty quickly. He passed Martin in Coram and then got past James into the first corner. He managed to pull away quickly and gained a few more positions as there were a fair few incidents going on ahead. In his mirrors Alex could see an out of position Bill Stenning and Maurice Gloster catching up whilst he was trying to catch the next group of cars. As Bill started catching up with Alex, it made Alex take a curb a bit too hard and as he came off the curb it snapped his suspension arm off at Nelson. However Bill made a mistake behind Alex, this allowed Maurice get past Bill and he begins attacking Alex. He defended into Montreal but he got a better exit and passed as they went into Brundle. Bill was back behind Alex, they had a great battle, changed positions a few times. On the final lap Alex passed Bill round the outside at Brundle to take the place. Alex finished the race in 10th place. However, it became 9th later in the day as Graham Grant got disqualified for being under weight.
On to race two, Alex started on the back row with Paul Smith alongside. He got an okay start and gained a few positions by the first corner by going round the outsides of them. He attempted to overtake Wesley Burton round the outside of Montreal but he shut the door on him and Alex had to use all of the rumble strip before coming back onto the track as he had been pushed out wide. Alex lost another position to Maurice Gloster going into Oggies. Wesley Burton had made a mistake and run wide so that helped to gain another position. Then Alex gained another position due to Tim Probert having an off on the back straight and trying to re-join as Alex whizzed past. He tried to pass James Cater into Coram but James shut the door, this made Alex lose some momentum which allowed Tim Probert to get past and start trying to overtake James. This allowed Alex to latch on to the back of them, Tim got past James going round the outside at Palmer. Alex managed to get a good run into Agostini, James left the door open so Alex managed to get down his inside to pass at Agostini. Then Alex managed to catch up with Bill Stenning coming out of Brundle and overtook him round Coram.
His next target was Tony Mitchell, Alex caught him early in the lap, got a good run out of Agostini and got a good tow through Hamilton, tried to go round the outside at Oggies but he shut the door. Alex got a tow all the way down the back straight behind Tony and managed to pass him down the inside at Brundle. Maurice Gloster was just ahead, Alex set off to hunt him down. However coming out of the last corner a few laps later Alex got on the power far too aggressively and tried to catch it but he ended up spinning onto the grass. This mistake dropped Alex to the back, he tried chasing down the back runners but he ran out of time and had to settle for 18th place, but Alex didn’t let it bother him as he knew he was trying his best and knows what he can do now.
The final round of the championship will take place at Donington Park on the 3rd of October.
© Fay Tilley 17th September 2015.