Simon Orebi Gann's Mallory Experiences
Simon at Brands?
Why Mallory Park means so much to me
For those who don't know, last year's race at Mallory was traumatic for me. In the third lap of the practice, I bounced off a car that spun in front of me just round the hairpin, and buried the nose of my lovely Plus 8 into the Armco and the tyre wall.
Thanks to Brett at Brands Hatch Morgans, who burnt midnight oil for some 3 weeks, I collected the car, beautifully restored after nearly 200 hours labour, the night before the next race. My nerves, on the other hand, were not so easily restored.
Think then of how I felt as I set out on the practice laps for the first race of this season, at the fateful circuit. Fortunately, there were no incidents and due to a timekeeper's fast reaction, I even started the race one hundredth of a second ahead of Peter Sargeant on the grid.
Not that this made any difference when the race started: he, Mary and others rocketed past while I was trying to put the car into gear and turn the radio down. By the time I came round the first bend, I found Mary elegantly sliding across the track, which brought back memories of the previous year, but this time fortunately gave me room to squeeze past one or two of the cars.
Gratefully I settled down to the rest of the race, finishing peacefully unscathed and, unusually, not last.
Not content with this, however, and desperate to get enough signatures for a grownup's race license and give up my L plates, I had also entered the 100 mile Centurian race with Rick Bourne nobly volunteering to be co-driver. The grid consisted of about 8 cars and 22 Lotus Caterhams. I drew the short straw and started. Rather after everyone else as I still couldn't get the radio to work properly.
Things did improve afer that (could they get worse? - wait and see...): highlights were lapping a Porsche and an XJS and still seeing Chris Phillips ahead of me for at least 2 laps after he passed me. The only problem was the Caterhams, buzzing around madly like demented wasps. We had the pit-stop down to a fine art: just under 4 (minutes, not seconds). Rick was running really well, when I made the fatal mistake: I commented that, with only 5 laps to go, we might get a class win (the others in our class having exploded, spun off or otherwise expired).
Next time we saw Rick, he and the car were in a tow truck. One of the Caterhams nudged him off after the hairpin, in exactly the spot where last year......
What do I think of Mallory? I love it! It's a great circuit, and it was a marvellous weekend even though the ending was rather flat. I look forward to next year, and wish to warn all my fellow competitors that I will have nothing to lose: stay clear of me there or be carried off with me!. Or will it be third time lucky?
The RAC trailered the poor Morgan back to Brands Hatch Morgans repairs. The driver? Exactly the same man who took the same car the previous year to the same people! So he ignored his instructions and took the car to where he took it last year, but of course they have moved premises since then......
See you at Brands?
(c) Simon Orebi Gann 1996