Its been a busy start to the Summer and a steep learning curve writes Ruth Nugent
The 11th of May I set off to the magical land of never ending corners and straights, (also known as Bishopscourt Race Circuit) for the weekend for the next round of the Fiesta Zetec Championship!
I won’t deny that I was a little terrified as I’d never been there before and this was only my second ever race weekend. I cycled the track the night before practice and qualifying which gave me a good feel of it and got a good sleep in too. Practice gave me my best chance at finding lines that I was comfortable with in the car until a few laps in I ended up directly behind another competitor who hit the kerb awkwardly and rolled their car. I knew as a driver I should continue on and return to the paddock but I guess my marshal instincts were screaming at me and I pulled in safely to help instead. I was the first in attendance to the driver, they were luckily okay, however, they were suspended sideways in their seat as the car was stuck on its right hand side. Another driver had pulled over to assist and along with the rescue team we managed to roll the car over and get the driver out safe and sound. It was decided that we wouldn’t go back out to finish practice so next up was qualifying. I’m not sure why, but I felt negative and uncertain going into qualifying and just couldn’t seem to push myself past my comfort limits and ended up qualifying last on the grid. I was hugely disappointed with this and hard on myself for the rest of the day until I finally told myself “You’re brand new to this and have never even been to this circuit before so STOP”. And it worked.
I went into race day with the mind-set of just enjoying the day of racing ahead. That morning, a few of our Motorcycle Marshals Association members travelled up as a surprise for support and it made my entire weekend. (Shoutout to our Maureen Cross (Toastie) for making me my own personal “Go Ruth” sign!).
I didn’t get a great start off the line in race one but within two laps I started overtaking and gained four more positions within two laps. My confidence started to slowly grow until I took a corner far too wide, tipped the grass and spun out losing all the positions I had just gained. Rookie mistake! After a minor tantrum in the car (apologies to all who’ve seen my on-boards!) I put the foot down and was determined to catch back up with the pack. By the end of the race I finished P11 with my exhaust dragging along beside me drawing much unwanted attention to myself! I felt good but was disappointed in my silly mistake and the loss of the opportunity of gaining more positions.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a great start on race two either. Also, within the first lap of the race the cockpit began to fill with fumes due to the quick job done on the exhaust (it was all that could be done at the time). This was something I’ve never experienced before and had to tell myself not to panic and to just keep going unless I really have to stop. It was quite distracting and I just wanted to cross the finish line in the end so I was happy to finish P12 and was just dying to get some fresh air and water! Overall, I was happy enough with the results. I got some championship points in the bag and satisfied my competitiveness by not finishing very last. I’m really looking forward to the next round which is on the 9th and 10th of June on the anti-clockwise circuit at Mondello Park. I’m starting to find my feet and gain confidence, my nerves are dissolving and I’m really starting to just love the racing rather than worry about it.
Tipperary Endurance Trials
Minnie the Micra made a return this month! Nicole Drought and I entered into the next round of endurance trials in Class 1A. After a late flight back to Dublin from a visit to family in Liverpool and a frantic drive to Tipperary the night before, we were reunited and ready to go. There were twenty selectives set out for the day however, the event unexpectedly ran late and the organisers cancelled the last two selectives. There had been heavy rain the night before and a lot of the selectives were based around farms so nearly all selectives were extremely slippy. So much so, we had four unfortunate crashes throughout the day. Between nearly rolling the car, very nearly ending up in a pond and crashing into random poles, Minnie the Micra had her fair share of abuse but she pulled through in the end! The selectives had a great variety of surfaces, hairpins and inclines which made the day challenging and a lot of fun.
We were in the car for nine hours in total and by the end of the day we got quicker and more confident as it dried up a bit in some areas. We had lost power early on in the day so really felt we weren’t at the best we could be but to our surprise, we got second in class and thirteenth overall. I still can’t get over the amount of seat time you get for the entry fee and how much fun it is for both drivers and codrivers throughout the day. Thanks to Tipperary Light Car & Motorcycle Club for running such a great event, I had a brilliant day!
5th June, 2018