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From Marshal to Driver –The Racing Season Begins

Ruth at Mondello.
Images by Autosport pics and Topgear

The racing season is here! Time to put all that preparation to the test writes Ruth Nugent

After months of preparation and much anticipation, I made my motor racing debut on the 14th and 15th of April at the first round of the car championships at Mondello Park as #33. And lucky for me everything that could’ve happened on my first race weekend pretty much happened!

Qualifying

The car had been tested the day before and a new gearbox had to be fitted the night before the first race day so between that and nerves I was all over the place for qualifying. I qualified very last which I wasn’t very happy with despite everyone telling me to not be so hard on myself as it was my first time racing.

 

Race One

In race one I got a surprisingly good start and all nerves I had originally had just disappeared. I managed to bring myself a bit further up the pack and gain a few positions up to about P12 until after two laps in my exhaust came loose. Around the same time a red flag was put out due to an incident on track needing recovery and my concentration was solely on getting back in to get the exhaust tied back on. We just about got the exhaust back on and as the pack was re-gridded for the rerun I was to start from pit lane. There was a good gap between myself and the pack and my first thoughts were that I would never catch up but somehow I did and even managed to catch the last car to finish second last (P14 due to two other cars retiring). I arrived into scrutiny bay along with the rest of the cars after the chequered flag and couldn’t get over the ecstatic atmosphere amongst all the drivers. As a marshal we never get to see this as we’re out on the banks and I have to say, it was really encouraging to see and experience. Something as simple as meeting other drivers from my class and having the craic about the race afterwards really made the experience of the whole day even more special for me.

Race Two

The next day the track was wet and worrying. I don’t have much experience in driving in the wet and everyone was passing on their own personal tips to help me out. So race two was definitely a great example of my inexperience! I was slow off the line and as the pack came into turn 2 on the first lap half the grid either spun or was caught in the chaos. I managed to gain three positions (not sure where I was position wise as so many cars had spun off) but I was about P10 in the middle of the pack and my inexperience kicked in as I took turn three totally wrong and nearly totalled myself only to end up at the very back of the grid. I caught up with the pack eventually and once again managed to catch the last car to gain one position before the chequered flag.

Race Three

Race three I got a slightly better start as the track had dried up a little. I got a few good overtakes in and managed to hold them off for a few laps until they gained them back but I ended up keeping two cars behind me for the last five laps even with my first experience of hard side to side contact. I finished P15 and was simply delighted not to be paddy last on my first weekend! The most special part of the entire weekend was the little dashes of orange on each corner waving, jumping and shouting encouragement at me in the sun and in the rain as I whizzed by. My M.M.A
and Mondello Park Track Team marshals gave me the upmost support in every way they could and I
really couldn’t of felt safer or more at home on track.

Next Race

The next race is in Bishopscourt on the 12th and 13th of May. There’s no testing beforehand and I’ve never even been to the circuit before but it’s another new challenge for me and I’m really looking forward to it. This weekend is the second round of the Masters in Mondello Park so I have a busy weekend of marshalling ahead of me too. Weekends full of motorsport – just how I like it!
Until next time

 

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Ruth Nugent

26th April, 2018

Author: Ruth Nugent

Ruth Nugent a 23 year old from Gormanston has been volunteering as a Motorsport marshal at Mondello Park in Co. Kildare for nearly 12 years but for 2018 she is moving from marshal to driver and will race in the Fiesta Zetec Championship in 2018. You can follow Ruth on twitter @roothnoogent

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