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Go4itRacing 2015 Donington Park full report of final race>>>>

27th October 2015

A big congratulations to Go4It Racing and MX5 City sponsored driver Martin Tolley for winning the 2015 Donington Park Racing Association Club Trophy. They have put in some great performances and made some amazing contributions and awareness to the Stiliyan Petrov Foundation! Well done!!

Picture courtesy of Jon Elsey Photography.

Season Finale: Donington Park

Full report from Alex Soar? below:

Great surprise - we were awarded the 2015 Donington Park Racing Association Club Trophy for everything we have done with the competition!

Thanks to our season sponsors MX5city, Pollock Lifts, Creative Touch Design and BizSmart as well as race sponsor Synium IT - it would not have been possible without you and the support of the BRSCC.

There is saying that time passes quickly when you’re having fun – to that end it feels like I just blinked and 7 months screamed past!

The last time I was at Donington Park was for my driver training with Rob Boston back in March this year, having just won the Go4it competition and obtained my racing license.

It was a baptism of fire for a complete novice and wasn’t without a few “active” moments as I explored the limits and ploughed through the grass – often sideways and out of the tricky Redgate corner!

However it’s been an exhilarating and steep learning curve since then as my adventure with Go4it Racing brought me back full circle to Donington Park to race in the BRSCC MX5 championship.

………and I still experienced a few lateral grass (and gravel) excursions mid-race!

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Practise track day:

The Donington Park circuit is steeped in history and arguably one of the greatest tracks to drive on in the United Kingdom.

The corners smoothly flow into each other, making for what feels like a very fast circuit that is exceptionally engaging with several “gotchas” for the overly-brave or fool-hardy driver.

The main “grid” straight leads into the nasty “Redgate” 120 degree corner that seemingly tightens up on you part way round. It’s very easy to underestimate this corner and yet it is perhaps the most challenging to master on the circuit. Get the exit wrong and you’ll quickly find you and your vehicle off on an impromptu sight-seeing trip to visit the marshals.

The track then begins a winding descent into a basin, which although easy enough to navigate, sees most drivers within the championship with their throttle pedal flat to the floor!

Stabilising the car is critical in order to carry sufficient speed into the “Old Hairpin” as you begin the uphill climb out of the basin.

If your entry speed is good into Old hairpin then this becomes an excellent overtaking opportunity.

The sharp right-hand turn of “McLeans” can catch out unwary drivers on exit, but is equally satisfying to slingshot an MX5 out of and into the blind right turn of “Coppice” corner.

Coppice is a double apex corner and it is important to let the car run wide in order to build up speed for the long back straight down towards the “Roberts” chicane.

The chicane demands a lot of respect (unless you’re Martin #23 – who thinks it’s optional!) as it’s the only section on the track that has huge kerbs capable of firing a race car into a concrete wall.

It was with all this in mind that I went out for a practise afternoon the day before the qualifying and three races of the weekend.

Being a track day it was tricky to find a rhythm as the MX5 is not a powerful car, but is light and carries a lot of speed in the corners. As such, it would be passed by the more powerful saloons on the straights only to be climbing all over their bumpers in the middle of the next corner.

None-the-less it all served to remind me of how my #32 Pollock Lifts sponsored MX5 would behave on race day.

As a comical aside, Martin had randomly insisted upon having a couple of “light cannons” installed into his front indicator housings.

At 4000 lumens each, they were laughably bright and loudly announced his progress along the track from as far away as Coppice corner!

Certainly nobody could claim “they didn’t see him coming” – even the saloons moved!

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Qualifying:

The event had been setup with qualifying Saturday morning and race one in the afternoon.

Of the Go4it crowd, Martin (#23) was in group two, but Kevin (#41), Chris Mills (#160), Sam Bailey (#107) and myself (#32) were all out in group one – making for a frantic garage but great comradery.

As always, sterling track-side support was provided by Liam, Jez, Adam and Daz who seemed constantly on their toes setting up and servicing the array of MX5 race cars within the team.

To their outstanding credit, every car was always ready to go and configured to the ever changing requirements of each driver.

Now my qualifying pace is normally significantly off my race pace.

It seems to be a slight mental block of mine – I’m there to race, not stuff it into something during qualifying – so I have a natural tendency to back off a bit.

This time though I was determined to psyche myself into thinking it was a race and really attack the circuit.

In hind-sight it was reasonably successful as I posted a respectable 1:29 time, however the high level of skill within the championship (many posting 1:26 times) meant that there were mere tenths of seconds separating large groups of drivers.

True to form, Martin and Kevin led the team by qualifying for the A race, with the rest of us eager to follow in their footsteps from within the B race.

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Race 1:

Link to Alex’s on-board camera footage

Link to Martin’s on-board camera footage

Lining up on the grid for the B race, I was quietly optimistic.

My qualifying had personally been a little disappointing, but I knew my starts had developed to become fairly effective.

As the gantry lights went out and I dialled in the power to the rear wheels, a slight wheel spin saw my progress momentarily suspended before #32’s tyres wrenched at the tarmac and pounced forward to make up lost ground.

The next few laps were a tight melee of cars swapping positions and jinking from trackside to trackside in a bid to defend or overtake.

I tried scoping out a dive up the inside of a few competitors only to realise that there was a very high chance of wiping both of us out if they didn’t spot me in their mirrors.

With two races to go, I had no desire to risk retiring #32 through recklessness, however mirror checks and observation were key to avoiding major collisions as some drivers threw caution to the wind and tried late braking dives at the Roberts chicane.

I was working hard to try to defend my position while seeking a gap in the gaggle of MX5s up ahead. Packs of cars are not quick and can be unpredictable, meaning I received a few “taps” to the rear bumper, but this served to keep me sharp and added to the adrenaline rush.

Eventually, however, after a mad dash down the main straight and while exiting Redgate corner, the rear of #32 suddenly stepped out, spun on the dust and catapulted me across the track!

My teammate reckons I was tapped, but I suspect it was simply my own driver error – either way I was on a lateral rollercoaster across the grass.

The natural green stuff is great as a lawn, but is frankly like ice when it comes to getting a purchase with your tyres.

After I had finished sliding, regained control and managed to coax it back onto the tarmac, all of the other competitors had passed me by.

This was frustrating on one hand, but equally I now relished the chance to chase them down and pass them!

Slipping into a groove, using the optimum racing lines and now posting 1:28 lap times, #32 was steadily gaining on the race cars ahead.

Slipstreaming behind the tail car, I was tempted to pass it on entry into the Roberts chicane.

Instead, I backed off a little to gain space then carried more momentum than the MX5 ahead through Old Hairpin as #32 rapidly gained on it, ducking up the inside through the Starkey Bridge corner to pass.

This brought into sight the chequered rear of car #160 and my fellow Go4it teammate Chris.

Drafting #160 down the main straight and swinging out to pass Chris saw him give me a cheeky squeeze against the track boundary – clearly, he was not going to make it easy for me to pass and I would not expect anything less.

Being teammates means consideration and respect towards each other, but by no means removes the competitive component.

Changing my approach to Redgate permitted a change of racing line and a “switch-back” on Chris to fractionally carry enough speed out of it and pass him by.

Keeping the throttle hammer pinned and carrying sufficient speed into Old Hairpin saw another overtake up the hill into McLeans where I was soon hunting down the #35 car of Matthew Simmonite.

Then began an immensely enjoyable cat-and-mouse game as Matthew changed to using extra defensive racing lines. While I carried the speed and was glued to his rear bumper, to Matt’s credit I simply could not cleanly overtake him as each time he managed to block my path.

I briefly gave him space as I tried my now favoured trick of carrying extra speed out of Old Hairpin and up the hill – and it very nearly worked.

Bearing down on the sky-blue bumper, a quick faint left followed by a dive for the right saw #32 riding the kerb with both MX5 race cars wheel to wheel.

As I began to edge ahead, my path was suddenly blocked by a much slower MX5 veering across the track towards the apex of McLeans – Sudden evasive manoeuvres to avoid a collision saw Matt once again slip away so that I was frustratingly staring at the rear bumper of #35 again.

The chequered flag marked the end of our hectic yet entertaining battle, but in the second race I saw a repeat with Matt and a very different outcome…………

The team’s race 1:

As mentioned, Chris had a similar race to myself and Sam put in a brilliantly consistent pace.

Martin fought hard but slipped back a couple of positions due to storming drives from the likes of Darren Lewis and Simon Baldwin.

Kevin made up some ground in his race, but similar to Martin, lost a couple of grid positions following a very robust move by another competitor.

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Race 2:

Going into race two saw a better start than in the first.

As before there was a long tightly packed convoy of MX5 race cars jostling for track space and position at each and every moment.

I made solid progress and avoided a few close incidents as I zeroed in on the black and yellow livery of car number #666!

Keeping #32’s engine on song as it dived down through the Craner curves, #666 had slowed more than expected, so with carrying more speed I went for a lunge up the inside of Old Hairpin.

Unfortunately, it was a case of “even the best made plans”……….

#666 didn’t see my approach in their mirrors in what was simply a racing incident as they turned and closed the door to the apex.

With no-where to go I frantically tried to wrestle #32 around the now impossibly tight turn, but there was the inevitably briefest of taps from #666 to my front wing which sent me careening off to play at lawn mowers again!

Yet again I was at the back of the field by the time I had recovered, but for a second time I was now eager to hunt down the rest of the pack.

Settling into low 1 minute 28 second lap times, I soon caught up with the back markers.

Using Redgate and Old Hairpin to my advantage #32 glided past several competitors including, to my personal relief, Matt in #35 who I think felt slightly ambushed.

This soon bought me back to dicing with my teammate Chris in #160 as I hounded him up the main straight towards Redgate with plans to execute another switch-back.

The sudden display of double yellows suspended the overtake option as all drivers instantly reigned in their MX5s to a controllable speed.

Unfortunately there had been big collision between #666 and another competitor.

No sooner had we cleared the Hollywood section than the green flags were back out indicating that free race conditions were back on.

Chris must have been eating his carrots, as his eagle eyes spotted it first and he got the jump on the rest of us who were seemingly asleep!

Consequently I mashed the throttle in hot pursuit with another subsequent switch-back through Old Hairpin allowing me to pass Chris up the hill and into McLeans.

At this point the yellow flags appeared again and suspended racing as the ambulance pulled onto the track alongside us.

The race ended under safety car conditions, but as I understand it, both drivers caught up in the accident were ok.

However, despite my off-road excursion, I felt surprising pleased with how the race had gone – it had certainly been a lot of fun catching up again.

The team’s race 2:

Sam (#107) seemed to have a good race and maintained his midfield position, while Chris (#160) spent some time fighting it out with myself.

Over in the “A” race, Kevin made an excellent start as he gained two places almost immediately.

The race was progressing well until he was slammed into by a white MX5 at the Roberts chicane which lost him six place while he recovered the squirming #41 – luckily no real damage had been done.

He then went on to put in a strong charge back up through the field and won back four places before crossing the finishing line – frustratingly he received a fifteen second time penalty for exceeding track limits which saw him join Sam, Chris and me in the “B” race.

Martin (#23) put in another solid performance as he yo-yoed up and down the front positions to eventually finish a respectable eighth.

Of course, he couldn’t resist using his newly installed lights, where upon as soon as he passed the chequered flag the front LED projectors went into full strobe mode!

According to the chief scrutineer, this was not to be repeated – apparently Martin didn’t qualify as an emergency vehicle no matter how loud he shouted “woo-woo”!

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Race 3:

Link to Alex’s on-board camera for race 3

Link to Kevin’s on-board camera for race 3

The final race of the season was a bit of a rollercoaster.

Sweeping into Redgate from launch #32 was jinking through the pack but had to yield to Nick Riley (#66) as we both shot towards the same exit point.

Staying hot on his heals down through Craner curves towards Old Hairpin I attempt another switch-back manoeuvre which saw me close down the gap onto Nick.

#66 moved right into a defensive line leaving me no choice but to try my luck on the left, only to be nearly collected by another wildly veering MX5 in the pack ahead.

Luckily #32 managed to maintain its grip, part on the dirt and part on the tarmac, as I exited past the group only to fall in behind Nick again who nearly lost control at the apex of Coppice.

My full focus was then on trying to predict which way #66 would spin, but fortunately Nick recovered and we raced side by side down the back straight towards the Roberts chicane.

Then all hell broke loose.

As Nick and I began our entry into the chicane, there was a loud screeching and suddenly it felt like a missile had slammed into the back of #32!

My MX5 exploded sideways directly into #66 as we were both pushed up and over the high kerbing and into the gravel.

As waves of stone chips flew in all directions, there were secondary impacts into the front right of #32 from the car that had initially hit us.

The Martials were able to recover Nick’s car as well as the instigator of the collisions, but alas #32 had torn a tyre off of the wheel when it had been forced sideways up and over the high kerbing.

Severely battered all round from the multiple impacts, my MX5 limped back to the paddock and the awaiting stunned faces of the team.

While this was not how I had envisioned completing my final race of the season, this is exactly what keeps the racing interesting – the unpredictability and that element of risk, which is both addictive to competitors and entertaining for spectators alike.

Credit where due, the chap that that took out #32 was a true gentleman, admitted fault immediately and covered the costs of repair – In that respect, he has my respect and my sincere thanks.

On the bright side, my two year old son was ecstatic to see a tractor towing “Daddy’s race car”.

His two favourite vehicles!

The team’s race 3:

Both Martin and Sam put in hard drives to finish 11th and 6th respectively in the “A” and “B” races.

Considering this was Sam’s first time out he’s obviously a natural talent and one to watch out for in the future.

Chris had an active time, not helped by a safety car (*ahem) but went on to have an exhilarating drive – with a few bent panels at the end – which proves he was certainly pushing hard.

As another complete novice with even fewer races under his belt than me, he did very well in amongst a field of very experienced and capable drivers.

Kevin had a barnstormer of a race three, starting second on the grid with an excellent start seeing him pull away from the pack with Richard Collins (#5).

They worked well together with Courtney (#70 joining their charge and pulled a significant gap from the other competitors.

Defensive lines and shrewd tactics saw Richard eventually get a better line out of the Old Hairpin where Kevin thought it prudent to yield as he spotted the yellow flags (because I was in the gravel with the others!).

Three very slow subsequent safety car laps suddenly ended with #5 getting a jump on the others but Kevin was hounding him in close pursuit – even with a fluffed gear change at Coppice.

Courtney was under intense pressure and was dropping back fighting off repeat attempts to pass her, but in the end the red #88 MX5 of Stuart Symonds made it past her stalwart defences.

Seeing this and the last lap board appear, Kevin knew he had to make a move on Richard’s #5.

A faint and switch-back at Redgate saw both drivers compromise their exits enabling a very fortunate Symonds to slip past Kevin.

Another dive by #88 down the inside of Richard forced an error from #5 giving Kevin the chance he needed to carry speed up through Old Hairpin and into second place where he had to fight intensely to hold off the continued assault by both Richard and Courtney.

A second place finish in the final race of the season is not too shabby at all!

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DPRAC Trophy to Go4it:

A surprise award was given to the Go4it team and in particular its founders Kevin and Martin for all of their work in getting complete novices into motorsport.

An awesome recognition of their efforts and well deserved.

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Final Thoughts & Thanks:

Before March this year, obtaining my racing license and actively competing in a fully-fledged championship was a dream I could but aspire to.

My own situation meant that I could neither fund nor logistically support doing so.

To that end I am eternally grateful to the Go4it founders, Martin Tolley and Kevin Brent who have fully supported and mentored me from a raw novice through to the significantly more experienced driver I am now - Thank you guys.

Additional thanks from everyone on the team goes out to our key sponsors Pollock Lifts, MX5 City, Creative Touch Design, and BizSmart for all of their support throughout the season – it was brilliant to see so many of you there at the Donington event.

On behalf of all the drivers, heartfelt thanks also goes to our ace trackside support team of Jez, Liam, Adam and Daz, who often go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure everything is perfect for the drivers.

The team spirit and banter these chaps foster immeasurably added to a fantastic experience.

Last, but by no means least, huge thanks goes out to my parents for all of their help and to my ever supportive partner Felicity – it wouldn’t have been possible without her.

I can honestly say that the season of racing has been an addictive rollercoaster, having experienced the full spectrum of motorsport – the elation, the frustration, the steep learning curves, the satisfaction, the crashes, rebuilds, comradery, new skills, new friends and stories to tell.

These wonderful memories will last me a life time.

- Alex Soar

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