February has been a busy month in my move from Marshal to Racing Driver writes Ruth Nugent
First Test Day
February saw me at my first test day with the car. It was an open saloon test day but it was set for the day before the Fiesta 6 hour endurance race was held to allow entrants some practice and testing before the big day. So I took this as a great opportunity to test alongside cars that were in the same class as mine and to improve my times. I was on old, hard tyres that took longer than expected to warm up and get used to but as everyone said, “that’s the best way to learn!”. Each time I came in I took advice for different approaches to/from corners and each time I returned my times were quicker. Something I kept doing that I really need to break the habit of was keeping my foot on the clutch without realising. Also, I found as soon as I was trying to perfect the exit of a corner I was messing up my entrance and likewise. This is something that I know will take patience and more practice to overcome. I was lucky enough to of borrowed a data logger from someone so between that and the GoPro footage, I had plenty to look back on and pick at for improvements. Overall though, this is all new to me so as you can imagine, I had a ball!
Fiesta 6 Hour Endurance Race
The following day I switched back to the other (more familiar) side of the track. I won’t lie, it was a little heartbreaking going from testing the car to not racing it the next day but watching/working at the event instead. My car was being used in the endurance race too but Team GRRR looked after her well and kept her lit throughout the race. Well done lads. And thanks for bringing her back in one piece!
As usual, the moment I stepped into the marshals room that morning I was met by the mental bunch that I’m proud to call our orange army and was ready for the day ahead. The 6 hour endurance race was the season opener and our marshals couldn’t wait to get back to work. Our next few weekends consist of bike events, rallycross events and charity events so we have a busy year ahead of us! And that’s just how we like it.
I was training in one of our regular marshals on Snatch (FIV/tow-in) for the day. We thought it would be a perfect day to train people in on Snatch as usually the Fiestas are our busiest customers but surprisingly there were only two incidents that required a tow-in throughout the six hours! Our two new trainees did very well and the extra patience from other officials, drivers and teams was greatly appreciated. If you or anyone you know if interested in joining us feel free to drop me a message and I can give you all the information you need.
ALMC Spring Lanes Endurance Trials
Nicole Drought, a Nissan Generation Next Ambassador and a very talented driver I’m lucky to call my friend, invited me to be her co-driver/navigator for the ALMC’s Spring Lanes endurance trials on Saturday the 24 th of February. She bought a little 1L Micra for €50 and in the 24 hours leading up to the event got it up and running for the next day. Neither of us had ever done anything like this before but with her experience and past in rallying I knew there was nothing to worry about. There were 16 selectives, some of which were used in the daylight and in the dark. Our first 2 selectives were in the Luttrellstown grounds with very wet, rough terrain and a few steep drops which did intimidate us at first. So much so that I lost my way in the notes on my first try and tried to shout out “guesstimate” directions which I’m not sure if they helped but we made it to the end! We gained more confidence after each selective. I was delighted to stop at a stop box and be greeted by two of familiar friendly faces, two Motorcycle Marshals Association marshals who were helping out on the day and whom gave us huge encouragement every time we went by them. Thanks again Mick and Jimmy O’Neill!
We were leading our class for the first few selectives until half way through one selective we received our first rookie penalty, stopping in a stop box but not collecting the card which resulted in a 20 second penalty. After a while of kicking ourselves we pushed on and all we could do was laugh about it! We received another penalty after this which showed our inexperience but we both agreed it was the only way to learn to never make that silly mistake again. Our patience (and cartography skills) were tested when trying to find the next selective after another as some were a good distance apart and we were unfamiliar with the roads. We got hopelessly lost and this is where all the Lucozade and jellies consumed came in great use to keep us going! By lunch time we were down to second place because of our penalty but not long after heading back out we regained first place. As the darkness crept in we started to feel the day taking a toll on us and selectives 13 & 14 were two that we hadn’t come across during daylight so we didn’t know what to expect. The first half of it was on tarmac in a driving school grounds so all of Nicoles track experience came through and saw us make a good time and even catch up with one of Starlets ahead of us.
After nearly 8 hours straight of being in the car we made it back to Luttrellstown. We didn’t expect it considering our lack of experience and the rookie penalties we received but we got first in our class! We were welcomed into the event by everyone, drivers and members of the ALMC club were hugely supportive and encouraging before, during and after the event. It’s an affordable form of motorsport that allows a full day in the car and a guaranteed day of fun, I couldn’t recommend it more. I’d just like to say a big thanks to Nicole for asking me to join her and to ALMC for organising the event.
6th March, 2018