Prior to the season opener Mark Hughes joined forces with Eastcoast Motorsport to compete in the Tegiwa Civic Cup. On the Friday prior to the race weekend the team headed to Oulton Park to complete a test day ahead of the weekend. The test day went really well and he was looking forward to seeing what he could do in qualifying and the races. Nobody could predict how the opening round of the season would go.

On Saturday morning at 9:35 it was time to go out and qualify, the circuit was wet and it was pouring with rain. During the twenty-three-minute qualifying session Mark managed to complete just four laps of the tricky Island Circuit. He set a lap time of 2:04.22 which meant he would start race one from seventeenth on the grid due to the layout being set in the different classes of cars. However overall on the live timing screens he qualified twenty-fourth. In Mark’s eyes qualifying was an absolute disaster due to losing his brakes on the third lap of the session after not bedding in his new brake pads properly earlier in the week. He managed to get a set of DS2500 back in to complete two more laps before spinning off circuit after catching oil another competitor had laid down on the circuit. That brought the end of Mark’s qualifying session.

At 12:30 it was time to go out for race one, Mark lined up in seventeenth on the grid alongside Oliver Barsby. Mark got a great start off the line considering the weather conditions they were faced with. He got squeezed onto another car due to a rookie driver not seeing him in his mirrors. Mark had steady pace and luckily managed to avoid most of the accidents occurring around him. He was having some great battles throughout the race with the poor weather conditions. Mark was a little disappointed with finishing in 20th overall but 14th within Class B. His best lap of the race was a 1:56.

After race one Mark headed back to the garage to assess the damage that had occurred to the car during the race. The first bit of damage that was noticed was that the driver’s door would not open due to the wing being bent, so they took the front bumper, headlight and wing off of the car to be able to straighten the wing and repair the damaged headlight. They got the car all repaired and ready to go for race two.

Race two saw Mark start from fourteenth on the grid alongside Joe Lock. Once again Mark got an amazing start and by the first corner of the Island Circuit he was up to seventh but he was struggling to get the tyres up to temperature as quickly as other drivers had. Also for this race Mark was using a new set of brake pads after having issues with the others. His quickest lap of the race was the last lap of the race with a 1:44. Mark finished the race in fifteenth place overall but 11th in class B.

Overall Mark was really happy with how the weekend went as it helped him to learn a bit more about the car. Also it’s a new track for him to learn so he did really well to learn it so quickly and be competitive during the weekend. Now Mark will turn his focus to Brands Hatch Indy on the 23/24th April.

 

© Fay Tilley 10th  April 2016

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