Torrential rain welcomed DSR to Knockhill for the penultimate racing weekend of the season with high winds making the awning construction challenging to say the least. After drying out and filling up with Fife’s finest bacon rolls, a solid day of practice was to be had by the team with the drivers honing their skills on a damp and skittish track, especially on a treacherous Duffus Corner that caught out many drivers throughout the weekend.
Qualifying was tough for the entire field under the circumstances, as a red flag was almost immediately deployed which led to Dan Dreelan leading the pack and setting the pace. It all turned out to be a mixed bag for the team, with Oly Mortimer showing his prowess in the slowly drying track conditions to take pole with a 1:02.776 lap time, nearly half a second clear of championship leader Kenny Thirlwall in second.
Des Wheatley managed a clean lap to take 9th place on the grid in a 1:03.9 time, with Dan and Jonny Dreelan filling 15th and 16th place respectively and forming the foundations for a brotherly scrap when the first race got underway. A large smile was on the face of Jonny after the session, taking 0.7 seconds off of his personal best, a huge accomplishment around a treacherous Knockhill.
Although the Fife weather had cleared up, the ‘Knockhill Chill’ still resonated around the racetrack in anticipation of the first race of the weekend. Straight after the lights went out, Oly was put under huge amounts of pressure from the other top drivers in the field and, despite some incredible defensive driving, Mortimer made a small error by finding a wet patch on the track and falling back into the field. The spectators at Duffus were also treated to a truly incredible save by Mortimer, taking the most difficult corner on the track fully sideways.
After already developing a miniature feud with Hannah Chapman from earlier meets in the season, Mr Wheatley was treated to yet another collision with the Lady’s Championship leader which led to him falling to a 13th place finish, just ahead of a satisfied Jonny Dreelan in 14th who drove well to defend one of his best finishes of the season. His brother Dan unfortunately was on the receiving end of an eventful first lap resulting in an eventual 18th place finish.
After a brief scrap with race control over Des’ racing footage, the original placings from the first race held true. Oly was yet again the highest finisher from DSR, fighting hard from 5th to take a well-deserved podium place with 2nd, showing the promise from his quick qualifying session.
A determined Des raced hard and clean to an 11th place finish with Dan (17th) struggling again with a spin in the tough conditions. Unfortunately for Jonny, the weekend was to come to a dramatic close as the tail of his Mini kicked-out midway down Duffus, sending the car spearing off into the gravel, swiftly followed by the Armco barrier.
It seemed that Oly Mortimer needed a couple of races to fully get his driving potential up to the usual standards. With the leader Joe Tanner suffering catastrophic transmission failure midway through the race from continual pressure from our driver, Oly took advantage of his fellow racer’s misfortune to take the final race win of the weekend.
Unfortunately, there were retirements for both of the Dreelan brothers and the championship title was ensnared by Kenneth Thirlwall with the last weekend of the season still to occur in October. On the other hand, there is still plenty to race for in terms of the final championship placings so a great, open weekend of racing is expected to close out the 2015 season.
A huge amount of respect must be given to a very pregnant Samantha More who turned out to watch Oly race on her due date and subsequently gave birth to a healthy baby boy a few days after her visit to Knockhill! Hopefully it won’t be long until the petrolhead mentality begins to rub off on him!
David Sleigh Racing has had a great season thus far and we are all looking forward to the final SMRC weekend where we will be building towards next season with renewed vigour and anticipation.