James Alford headed to Brands Hatch on Saturday 17th April ready to compete in the Canons Motorspares Tin Tops Championship race, which was being combined with the Quaife Motorsport News Saloons, on Sunday. Saturday was set up day for the Tin Top/ Quaife Motorsport News Saloon drivers ahead of competing on raceday.
During qualifying the Mistubushi Evo of Andrew MacKenzie span out on the straight as the cars enter the GP loop, he collided with a barrier and bounced back across the track. Cars were everywhere due to having thirty-one cars on track at the same time, James had no way of diving around the stricken car so just braked really hard. Due to the Mistubushi crashing out and then a Seat Leon becoming stranded on the GP loop a safety car was brought out for a few laps before the organisers eventually decided to red flag the session. They stopped the clock on just under seven minutes. This meant drivers would get a maximum of two or three laps to set their fastest times to qualify when the session was restarted. James managed to get just one quick lap in at the end of 1:56.27, this put him twenty-third on the live timing screens out of the 31 competitors.
Photo Credit: Tilley Photography.
James was looking forward to the first race to see how well he could do out on the GP circuit, which he doesn’t have much experience on. On the grid the two championships were divided onto separate grids. The Quaife Motorsport News Saloons started ahead of the tin tops with one row of the grid clear before the Canon Motorspares Tin Tops lined up behind. James started the race from fourth in class alongside Vic Hope but was lined up in twenty-seventh overall. Unfortunately, he began suffering from understeer issues, but also managed to have some great battles on the circuit where he was constantly swapping positions with people. By the time the chequered flag was waved, James was in the same place he started – twenty-third place.
Between the races James checked over the car, made a few changes to the suspension to enable him to get a better turn in on corners and hopefully stop him suffering from understeer. His focus turned to race two, where he was hoping to be more competitive and finish higher in the pack.
Race two came around and James started sixth on the Canon Tin Tops grid with Ken Angell alongside, however he started in twenty-ninth. Straight away from the start James could tell how much better the car was after the slight changes to the suspension had been done. He found it better and easier to get a good turn in as well as not suffering with understeer as bad as he did in race one. Once again James had some really good battles on track with both competitors from the Canon Motorspares Tin Tops and the Quaife Motorsport News Saloons. James crossed the line to take twenty-third once again as he took the chequered flag.
James’ fastest lap time from the whole weekend was 1:51.13. James enjoyed the weekend as in his opinion it was great, he managed to make some positive adjustments to the car in between the two races which really helped him to have more confidence within the car. Also he had lots of fun competing on the GP circuit, some great battles and a dry sunny race which they haven’t had in a while.
© Fay Tilley 21st April 2016.