An unusual calendar for 2023 meant that round 7, the final round of the season for the 750MC Club Enduro would be on the Sunday AFTER the 6hr Birkett relay. Normally, we would not have risked using any of our championship cars in the race on the previous day, however, with the TTDI no longer in contention for the top 3 spots, and the Golf having already sealed it at the previous round, we used the Golf for as much as possible, with the TT as a backup.
The guys had to do a quick reprep after the race, since we'd booked out Carnitas Mexican in Buckingham to host all the team and our loyal supporters and family as a final get-together of the year.
Below is the layout of Silverstone, we would be doing the full GP layout:
I was in the Golf, but this weekend I would also be sharing with DannyDC2, as 3 wins would put him top of the Autosport National Driver Rankings. We would still be in Class B, which is 240bhp/tonne without the driver. Diesels have a 1.05 power multiplier, so theoretically we can only have ~228bhp/tonne. We have 283bhp at the flywheel with a 1242kg minimum weight, bang on the money.
Ryan and Dylan would be back in the TT TDI, which has a declared weight of 1140kg, and being in Class A can only have ~285bhp/ton, which works out around 325bhp on the Championship Dyno.
Brad was also back with us for a drive in the RS3, which runs in Class A under Homologated TCR Rules.
The 750MC uses TheResultsLive.co.uk for timing.
Full Race Day Vlog
We have a full Vlog from the weekend, with snippets of the races:
We used the Birkett as a test day for the RS3 and TTDI, with no real issues to report. The Golf did 5.5hrs with no hiccups, so we were hoping for a straightforward day!
It had rained a massive amount overnight, and had still not dried when we were out at 10am. It was going to be another of those sessions where whoever survived and was across the line last would prevail.
I let Danny go out first, with the hope that I would then jump in and improve our position. He also had to get to the assembly area again sharpish, as his first Hot Hatch Race of the day started immediately after our 30 minute qualifying session.
We topped the Class B times for most of the session, with the #95 JabbaSport Golf of Luke and Kevin jumping us before we took it back pretty soon after. I was on for a mega lap, before some traffic at Becketts cost me over 0.5s. I backed out, let Kevin through and he went on to set a 2:32.29 which put him on Class B Pole and 12th overall. I prepared for a final flier, but just made the line as the chequered was waved. I could have probably got them, but we would start on the grid at the side of them anyway, so it was pretty irrelevant. Plaskett was just behind, 0.8s off my time, but only a row back.
Dylan was out first in the TT, and stayed out for a fair bit, managing a 2:29.84 before handing over to Ryan, who never got a clear lap. They settled for P6.
Brad Ended the session P11, struggling to get into the swing of it since he'd tested the car yesterday in the dry. He was confident he would improve during the race.
The laptimes did get faster as the session went on as expected, so Ryan needed to find himself some good space right at the end.
If I had only pushed a little harder on the last lap, I might have started my lap and got a good time in.
Our fastest Quali laps are shown below:
The whole race was Live Streamed by the guys at AlphaLive which you can see below:
Dylan was starting P6, Danny was starting on Row 7.
Despite the forecast being no rain for the rest of the day, as always, just before we headed to the Assemby Area it decided to absolutely hammer it down. All the weather apps were saying it would be a short shower, so we expected it to dry out at some point during the race, and took the gamble to go for a dry setup but wet (higher) pressures on the A052s.
Due to a big change in conditions, the 2 Green Flag Lap board was shown to the drivers and communicated to the pits, however after the first lap, the safety car peeled in and the red lights went out. I guess no one told the Safety Car driver or the guy in charge of the gantry lights!
Danny was on a mission when he got going, making up some places on the struggling rear wheel drive cars, and pulling a decent gap on the Jabba Golf.
Dylan was not so fortunate, he was caught out by the dodgy start, and was getting pushed all over by some TCRs. The Lotus of Will Stacey also smashed into the side of him at Maggots, pulling the end cap off the Carbon Spoiler.
Things eventually settled down and Dylan's lap times improved, but the Area Golf, Capture Cupra and MX-5 were in a class of their own, in the mid to low 2:30s while everyone else was in the high 30s and low 40s.
Jabba started to match Danny's pace, but the ~10s lead he had built was enough to keep them out of touch, and we stuck to the plan of bringing Danny in as soon as the pit window opened, so he had plenty of time to prepare for his 2nd Hot Hatch race in the Civic.
As I was getting ready to take over, all was not well in the garage, with Dylan complaining of limp mode and dodgy engine sounds in the TT. He pulled off into the International Pits at the other side of the circuit and retired. What a nightmare. The guys decided to jump in the Amarok to pull him back and diagnose the issue, rather than waiting for the Circuit recovery guys, who would need to wait until the end of the race.
Our stop was bang on, serving the 30s success penalty we had for winning the last round. Jabb would have 20s, but Danny's mega stint neutralised that. I asked the guys to leave the nice warm tyres on the car, but on Danny's comments about the track drying, we dropped the pressures closer to what we need in the dry. This was our first mistake...
Jabba had stayed out, with Luke putting in low 2:41s and high 2:40s while I was in the pits and on my outlap. I needed to match these to ensure we were ahead after they stopped, but dropping the pressures meant it took almost 5 full laps before the car felt like it had anywhere near that in it. I was eventually trading laptimes with Luke, but the damage was already done, he'd closed the gap Danny built for me and increased it to the point where when they exited the pits, I could not even see them in front of me on the long straights. I needed to push hard, but Kevin knew too, and was able to maintain the gap at around 20s.
Settling for 2nd was not a problem for me, I knew it meant Kevin and Luke would get 2nd overall in the ClubEnduro Championship standings, but I'd let Danny down in his quest to get 3 race wins this weekend. We took the chequered, but it didn't feel like a podium drive.
The fun was not over though. I'd backed off over the line and turned into Copse the slowest I had all race, but the back end let go and started to come round. In a race situation I would have just floored the throttle and pulled it round, most likely staying within track limits. However the race was over, and the marshalls were attending to the menace of a Civic, buried in the barrier, with the JCB on it's way to assist. So I figured speeding up under double waved yellows was not ideal, so I straightened the wheel, and let the car go onto the runoff area.
This was a bad move, the runoff was covered in tyre marbles and still wet through, so the car ploughed on and the ABS kicked in as soon as I touched the pedal. This meant I was heading directly for the recovery team. Eventually it gripped and I was only doing around 30mph when I went past the scene. I gave them a wave but knew I would not get away with it.
I pulled up for my interview and was immediately called to the Clerk of the Course. After reviewing the footage, I was expecting a stern telling off. Instead the MSUK Rule book was mentioned a lot, then I was found guilty of 'Q 12.21.5 Slow, erratic driving or potentially dangerous driving', of which carries a disqualification from the race and 4 penalty points.
I don't know about you, but I think MSUK have been handing these points out like sweets at Halloween this year. I don't believe I have ever had any, and this season I have ended up with 10, dangerously close to the 12 maximum. I consider myself a pretty safe and fair driver, so how do the reckless ones get on?
I lodged an appeal but knew I was probably wasting my time, especially considering that out of the four people hearing it, only one of them had sat in a race car in the last 30 years, and two of them had never sat in one. I don't think they were really in a position to tell me how to drive on a race circuit, but what do I know?
All round, a day to forget for Darkside. We would have done less damage to the cars, our reputation and championship had we just packed up after a great day on Saturday.
Brad finished where he had started, his laptimes not far off the TCRs around him. He seemed happy with the car but was hoping it would dry like we were.
Dylan's opening laps meant he had dropped a fair way off the leading pack, but I am sure if he had kept on their tail, the TT would have been able to match their times before it failed.
You an see Danny's first laps, in relation to Luke's, were mega. I just let us down by not pushing hard enough on my outlap and the 4 or 5 after. All I needed to do was match their pace and we would have had a good battle to the end.
Our fastest race laps are below:
The championship looked to have been sealed in the previous race, however if you are disqualified from a race, then it means that score must be kept as one of your best 5, meaning JabbaSport would win the title. However, being a firm believer in Karma, it came around quickly. I'd let Danny drive the car this weekend (the first time I had shared a drive in the Golf in 2 seasons) and as I personally was disqualified, my laps were deleted but not his, meaning the result would be a non-finish and I would not have to carry it in my best 5. This meant I kept the overall and 1st in Class B. Phew!
That is it for this season, and sadly the last season for me in the Golf. The plan is to remove the TFSI Engine from the 2nd TT and fit a TDI, and either run both of them in Class A, or turn one down, swap the front wheels to 10" wide (the maximum for Class B) and give that another go. It all depends on how competitive Class B will look next season, and who wins the Darkside Showdown between me and Ryan. Keep an eye on YouTube for it!
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Elsey Motorsport Photography Mick Walker and 750MC
All the details and dates for future races we are entering can be found on the Darkside Motorsport Page. The 2023 season is over, but with the 2024 dates not long off, we will get the page updated with all the latest details ASAP.