For round 5 of the 2011 Time Attack series, we see the competitors head to Lincolnshire to take on possibly the most technical and tricky circuit and therefore, without any question of a doubt, our favourite stop on the whole season; Cadwell Park.
Cadwell is nicknamed ‘The Mini Nurburgring’, with its long, fast corners and breathtaking straights combined with a tricky and technical section at the back end of the lap giving the impression you are driving on 2 different racetracks and combining all areas of the cars’ setups and driver skill. There are no gravel traps and in some places not even much of a run-off and a gradient known as ‘The Mountain’ has been know to see some of the quickest cars in the field totally airborne!
As usual, with all our Time Attack coverage our first stop is to report on all the action and goings on from the top tiers of the event; The Pro and Club Pro classes. With just over 2 miles of this amazing circuit to tackle it threw up lots of action right through the day on all 4 sessions.
For starters, it’s fairly obvious from our latest Ameon Racing report that the rest of the Club Pro season will be running without Rob Cowling who has been plagued with problems but vows to return in 2012! Also missing from the Pro line-up at Cadwell was the Mitsubishi Evo of Russ Paton, but after being bumped right up from Club class to Pro after his Performance at Knockhill, the bright pink Evo of Alan Freeland would make his debut in the Pro class.
With a warm day forecast, and grip in abundance, the main focus of the teams was to keep the engine running cool and therefore maximising the power available to each driver. Most teams had arrived on the Saturday evening, with a few venturing out at the end of the Saturday trackday session to shakedown the cars and get to grips with the track.
First blood went to current standings leader of the Pro class; Gavin Renshaw who put 0.3 of a second between his NR Autosport Evo and closest title challenger; Marcus Webster in the Skyline. Webster’s team mate; Walter Morris finished the session at the top of the Club Pro a good 5 seconds ahead of the two Escort Cosworths driven by Brands Hatch winner David Jackson and Warren Kelly. The session wasn’t so smooth for Michael Mahoney whose Pro class Evo only managed a couple of laps and not posting a time, although that’s 2 more laps than the Club Pro Metro 6R4 managed, with driver Mark Pollard hoping to run his Nitrous Oxide system for the first time.
Practice saw no change at the top, with both Renshaw and Webster knocking over a second off their previous session times leaving Duncan Graham’s BC Racing Impreza 3 seconds off the pace. Mahoney was still struggling with major issues, managing only a single lap and again not posting a time, although he wasn’t alone, the K-Sport Impreza driven by Paul Doyle who was right on the pace in the warm-up session also only managed a single lap. Walter Morris stayed ahead of the Club Pro class again ahead of the 2 Escorts with other drivers; Neil Robertson and Fiona Kindness seemingly struggling to keep up, and with a continuing issue, Pollard’s Metro didn’t make it out at all.
With qualifying counting towards vital championship points, the gloves were off, but a blistering time set on only the second lap of the session was enough to keep Gavin Renshaw right at the top of the pile. Unfortunately the session featured a red flag as Marcus Webster left the track right at the top end of the circuit and made a heavy impact with the tyre wall, most importantly Marcus was ok, but it would take a lot of effort from the Midlands Performance team to get the car ready for the final!
Taking advantage of Webster’s misfortune was Graham who managed to put his Impreza 2nd, Freeland remained consistent with a 4th place in class and Mahoney managed to get out and finally put his first quick laps in, all be it 5 or 6 seconds off the lead times. Walter Morris again proved he is the man to beat in Club Pro and after stopping to make sure his team mate was OK, went on to put in a time just over half a second slower of Renshaw’s putting him second overall! David Jackson and Warren Kelly were again in the running and although getting quicker, Kindness just couldn’t match the pace.
For the first time that I can remember this season, the final was contested between all 12 cars that were present in the warm-up session, with no major failures or premature retirements to speak of, it was a straight fight for the points, and with some incidents throughout the day and within the Club class final, it meant we were gone 6pm before the session even got underway!
There is no denying it, if you have a system that works then you should definitely stick to it, as I looked down the pit lane from my position on the first corner I could see that Gavin Renshaw would be first on track, as he does every single session and it took him only one flying lap to post not only the fastest time of the session and the round 5 win, but also the quickest lap of the day! Webster pushed really hard too, his flame spitting R32 Skyline was definitely looking second hand after his qualifying incident but it didn’t seem to shake his nerve or confidence as he managed to grab the runners-up spot.
Less than half a second split 3rd and 4th places meaning that Alan Freeland missed out on a podium place, but a real valiant effort in his first experience of the Pro class, we’re hoping to see the bright pink Evo at Anglesey for round 6! Paul Doyle managed to overcome his earlier woes and take the final podium spot in the K-Sport Impreza.
The Club Pro saw no change in the top at all, with the same three drivers taking the same three spots, in the same order that they had run all day, meaning Walter Morris put the Skyline on the top step, flanked by David Jackson’s Spec R Escort Cosworth and Warren Kelly’s carbon-clad Escort Cosworth. Pollard put in his fastest time of the day, but there was no improvement for either Kindness or Robertson leaving them with a lot of work to do in preparation for round 6!
With the Welsh circuit of Anglesey being visited for the first time by Time Attack, we’re going to be stepping into the unknown, but will that be enough to throw Renshaw off the top spot? Will we see a full grid survive the day? and will Russ Paton return and Alan Freeland stay in? All will be revealed as we head out there in less than 4 week’s time!
Words – Ollie // Pictures – Rich, Ollie & Chris