“Go for it”, a phrase that often rolls off the tongue of those encouraging others to try something new and exciting.
In that respect, getting complete novices out on track for an adrenaline fuelled adventure has become the mission statement for the Go4It team founders Martin Tolley and Kevin Brent.
With generous help from Go4It’s Crowd Funding supporters and the team’s key sponsors Pollock Lifts, MX5 City, Creative Touch Design and BizSmart, the chaps have yet again helped more enthusiasts to realise their dream of motorsport circuit racing!
Andrew Adams is the 2016 winner of the Go4It competition and will be following in the footsteps of last year’s competition winner, Alex Soar, who has now moved from the driver’s seat to helping provide the team with trackside support.
Andrew is not entirely new to motorsport, boasting a successful career in Autograss.
However, as he soon discovered, circuit driving is radically different and the skills required would come as something of a surprise………
With most of the team living at least three hours away from Norwich’s Snetterton circuit, it was a bleary eyed 4am departure to arrive for the start of the test day.
Kevin and some other members of the team would be arriving that night, but Martin, Andrew and Alex were soon joined by Andrew’s “MJA engines” family and the team’s new driver, Jack Warry.
Jack is a keen track day attendee and recently took the plunge of taking his ARDS test to earn his “National B” race license. Supported by the team, he would be joining the other three drivers on the grid. Happily he’s also a professional mechanic, so pretty handy with the spanners!
By the time the three race cars had been unloaded and basic equipment set up, a schedule change saw a frantic rush of activity from the whole team in order to get the MX5 race cars out on track for the first session of the day.
Throughout the day Martin (No.23) and Andrew (No.32) were heavily involved with developing the setup of their cars, as well as some mechanical challenges that even saw the team hot-swapping Martin’s clutch between sessions!
Andrew had a particularly unique challenge adjusting to circuit racing instead of Autograss, as he almost had to forget everything he instinctively knew about car control.
It was to be a steep learning curve and he was understandably nervous of not knowing No.32’s limits at a new, unknown track.
But learn he did, by keeping an open mind and building upon his training from Brian Chandler, his confidence rose with each passing lap as he adjusted to the weight transfer and grip of his Pollock Lifts sponsored car as it danced on the edge of traction.
Jack (No.132), brilliantly summed up his own experiences of the test day:-
“……..The first session was mostly about learning the track and trying to stay out of the way of the other competitors. This did make me fear that I would be last all weekend though, as I appeared to be much slower than everybody else.
After returning to the pits, we made several configuration changes to get a good baseline setup from which I could work with to help me get comfortable in the car.
During the second session I immediately felt more comfortable in the car and felt much faster, which seemed to be confirmed when I started catching and passing some of the other cars out on track.
The car did have a tendency to oversteer, but I felt that this could be used to my benefit.
With the remaining sessions of the day I only made minor setup changes and decided to focus on finding time within myself on track…...”
As the test day drew to a close, the usual paddock antics ensued to the droning orchestra of generators.
Not one to be beaten, Martin ran an entertainingly impressive daisy-chain of electrical extension reels to power a heater in the trailer.
After much exertion, the vaguely warm and asthmatic performance of the heater proved to be a comical reminder of just how power sapping 60 Metres of mains cable could be!
Practise and Quali:
A bright and windy morning saw the arrival of the rest of the Go4It team – Liam, Adam and Daz.
Between them, these chaps have a wide range of skills and many years of motorsport technical experience.
The practice sessions can be a little daunting for novices – and the first ever practise, doubly so!
Usually all of the race cars involved in the championship are out on track at the same time which, being run under race conditions, sees the fastest drivers buzzing past the less experienced competitors.
This can take some getting used to and it can be easy to have your confidence shaken if you cannot see other MX5 race cars of a similar pace to yourself.
Snetterton has long straights and wide sweeping corners interspersed with tight bends that are often over 90 degrees.
While Andrew is used to faster accelerating Autograss cars, he was impressed with the high average speeds that had to be sustained throughout a lap, as each challenge was strung together to give the best possible speed onto the straights.
With this in mind Andrew focussed on thinking of ways to push his No.32 MX5 into going quicker with each lap.
Jack found his practice session was very similar to the previous test day, only now his lap times were becoming increasingly more competitive.
By the end of practise and following essential maintenance, the team were back out for the Qualification round where it is critical to complete a minimum of three clean laps (excluding the out-lap) or risk not being permitted to race!
Martin (no.23) was disappointed with his qualifying but still made it into the “A” group of drivers.
Andrew (no.32) and Kevin (no.41) qualified for the B group, but much to the team’s stunned surprise, Jack (no.132) qualified second on the grid for the “B” group, mere tenths of seconds off of Ivan Leary in Pole Position.
When quizzed about his debut performance Jack had the following to say:
“……Qualifying went very well and, despite struggling to find a clear stretch of circuit, I managed to put in a lap that secured a 2nd position start in the B-class. This was something I was not expecting especially in my first race.
Shortly after the qualifying, results were confirmed and it dawned on me that I would have a realistic chance of winning my first race.…..”
Race 1A & 1B:
Prior to sliding into the race seat and harnesses of his No.32 MX5, Andrew felt his first real sensation of “butterflies” as he realised he was about to go into his first ever circuit race!
A few moments to think in the assembly area were soon followed by the sighting lap and lining up on the grid, ready for the gantry lights to extinguish and begin the race.
Andrew later described how the whole grid seemed to suddenly explode into “complete and utter madness” as the swarm of race cars jostled “unpredictably” for position into and around the first corner.
The first few corners were an education and taught Andrew to fight hard, especially though his favourite corner - the long, sweeping, fast corner “Corum” that leads onto the main straight.
Throughout the race he was kept on his toes but put in a solid performance to cross the line smiling madly and adrenaline drunk.
Having loved all of the frenetic action and fun of his first race, he went on to exclaim “that’s better than Autograss! I’ve done a whole season in one race!”
Kevin also put in a fantastic show as he moved up the grid to finish the race in fourth place, gaining him promotion into the second “A” race.
Martin fought hard throughout his race, with some bold dives and fancy wheel work earning him several places up the grid to finish 12th. Despite his disappointment during qualifying and the mechanical issues he had been experiencing, he was now getting to grips with his No.23 race car and setting his sights on the second race.
But of the group, Jack arguably had the biggest rollercoaster ride:-
“……The nerves had now well and truly set in!
The realisation that I would be starting in front of 20 cars all eager to pass was weighing on my mind.
In the waiting area before the race all I kept thinking was DO NOT STALL! And keep out of trouble.
Lining up 2nd on the grid I was determined to get a good start and hopefully get to the corner first; not only to improve my chances of winning, but to try and get myself away from any trouble that may happen behind me!
As the lights went out I think I had the best possible launch and romped away into the first corner with a clear lead, completely unaware of the unfortunate bedlam that had happened behind me that led to Ivan Leary from Pole Position hitting the side barrier hard!
Lining back up on the grid and watching one of your fellow competitor’s cars being lifted by a crane off the circuit didn’t do the obvious nerves any favours, but after consulting a marshal he assured me that Ivan was ok.
I tried my best to block-out the recovery work and focus on the restart.
Now lining up on the front row on my own, I kept the previous game plan and wanted to be clear of the pack before having to brake for Montreal bend.
Another good start enabled me to do just that and then set about trying to pull away from the field. A fast starting Patrick Collins was very close from the first lap and remained throughout.
Although it was clear we were both pulling a good gap to third, I was unable to get any kind of gap to Patrick.
After several laps it became clear that he was superior under braking into the slower corners, but that I was able to pull away in all of the fast corners.
My tactics had changed from trying to pull away, to just ensuring he didn’t pass - sometimes even being deliberately slow at the apex of the slow corners so that I could then gain a cars length and pull away further through the fast corner before repeating the process at the next slow corner.
This was how the whole race played-out and there was never more than a second’s gap at any point during the race.
I managed to resist the persistent pressures and came away with the win!
It took most of the cool down lap to actually sink in that I had actually won and for the adrenaline factory in my body to slow down.
This was a moment, that until today, had only been a dream and I had just lived it……”
As a result of finishing in the top 5 of the “B” race, Jack was promoted into the “A” group for race 2 where he joined Martin and Kevin on the grid.
Race 2A & 2B:
The second “A” race was energetic to say the least.
If you get the chance to view the on-board videos of the drivers, it is well worth doing so to get a notion of how hard they work in the cockpit of those race cars - albeit a lot of fun!
Martin fought like a demon, often side-by-side with other competitors and mere millimetres between them as he pushed No.23 to its limits – managing a top 10 finish.
Kevin too had an entertaining race cut short by a gear box failure and Jack was acutely aware of the talent around him as he had to work feverishly to match the average speeds of the other race cars.
He put up a good fight and it would have been fascinating to see where he finished had it not been for an unfortunate spin at “Corum”.
Jack described his experience:-
“…..As a result of finishing in the top 5 of the “B” race I was promoted into the “A” group for race 2.
This was going to be a completely different challenge as I would be starting 16th and in amongst traffic.
Another good start had me closing on the car in front, but I then was squeezed onto the left-hand side of the circuit which forced me to back off of the throttle and lose at least two positions in the process, only to gain one back by “Palmer”.
I managed to stay out of trouble for the remainder of the first lap and set about making up time to catch the MX5 race cars in front.
At “Riches” on the second lap Patrick Collins ran wide thus allowing me through and back ahead of all the drivers who were promoted from the “B” race.
This put me within sight of Martin Tolley who was running in 12th and I was determined to keep up.
I managed to out-brake the No.42 car of Paul Bateman into “Montreal”, but whilst trying to make a move on the No.20 of Paul Maguire I left the door open and No.42 was back through.
On the same lap at “Coram” the No.20 car had lost some momentum, so I tried to seize the opportunity by positioning my car on the outside in order to attempt to take the inside line at “Murrays” - once there though I found I was carrying too much speed which resulted in a frustrating but harmless spin across the grass.
Fortunately, I had a big enough gap to re-join without losing a position. I then had a rather lonely run to the end of the race until I was briefly joined by the spinning Jake Simpson.
I finished 14th which I was very happy with given the spin.
Overall I had a fantastic weekend and I’m so happy to be involved with the Go4it team who all made the weekend that bit easier……”
Unfortunately for Andrew the second group “B” race was postponed until Anglesey due to a crash in the preceding Fiesta cup race.
That will make the Anglesey triple header event into a four header for Andrew – Be that daunting or a relished challenge, it’s obvious from his experiences at Snetterton that he will have immense fun.
The two new drivers had a fantastic time and spent every minute fully absorbing the new experiences.
Thanks goes to Martin and Kevin for organising Go4It, with heart-felt thanks from all of the drivers to the support crew.
Andrew said “….I loved the team banter and felt like I naturally fitted into the team. Everyone was very welcoming and the support was great….”
Jack was of course elated at his debut race victory – Martin will have to watch his mirrors closely with three team mates now firmly focussed on catching him!
Next Event: Anglesey - four races for Go4It’s winner, Andrew!
Special thanks to our sponsors and featured Charity - please take a look at their websites:
Creative Touch Design www.mx5city.com
Pollock Lifts www.mx5city.com
Stilyan Petrov Foundation www.mx5city.com