Sunday 4th May saw David Sleigh Racing competing in rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the Celtic Speed Scottish Mini Cooper cup. Knockhill has a reputation for having its own micro climate and as the rest of Scotland enjoyed a relatively mild and clear day, the SMRC Spring meeting opened with heavy fog descended across the circuit.
Race 1 (Round 4)
With the mist refusing to clear, the qualifying round was abandoned and championship places were assumed for the starting grid of Race 1. This meant David Sleigh started on the wet side of the grid down in 5th place. Malcom McNab was able to take advantage of his starting position nearer the emerging dry line and immediately dropped DSR’s #1 driver. The lead 3 drivers managed to break away as David battled for 4th position with McNab. With David fending off the efforts of Ian Munro and John Borthwick, McNab was able to make his own break away. With David set to bring home 5th place he was shunted from the rear on the penultimate corner suffering a complete blow-out of his rear-left tyre. Obviously debilitated, it was fortunate the incident happened so close to the finishing line with David managing to only concede one place in the ensuing drag race to the line. He finished in 6th, beaten by a fraction of a second by the lurking Chris Reid.
With 2 DNFs in the previous meeting, Des Wheatley started down in 15th. Displaying the agility and aggression that proves his championship standing is a modest one, Des picked up 2 places in the first lap. Jay-Z might not have girl problems (well maybe that’s not so true anymore) but Des Wheatley does, as his race would soon turn into all out battle with Steph McMurdo, eventually losing out to the Ladies cup leader by 0.4 seconds. However, his 14th place position earned him a valuable 14 points in the Newcomer’s cup.
David Meiklejohn started in the wooden spoon position down in 20th place, but two retirements brought him up to 18th place. DSR’s newest recruit is still getting to grips with the new car but his lap times show that he’s starting to learn where the limits of the Mini are.
Full results: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/3047455
Race 2 (Round 5)
The heavens had opened on Knockhill, leading to some tricky racing conditions and perhaps favouring the more experienced drivers. With some nice manoeuvres in the early stages of the race David Sleigh battled through to 4th place. However as the race progressed the top 2 broke away and Olly Mortimer did a good job of keeping the David “the Big Kahuna” Sleigh at bay and the DSR man would have to settle for 4th.
An unfortunate wiper problem forced Des into the pit lane after the warm up lap, meaning he was forced to start from the back of the grid. Not to be deterred, Des started to make his way through the back markers. He’d taken back at least 4 cars, when on lap 3, he slightly overcooked the turn into Duffus and lost traction in the wet conditions and headed for the tire-wall sideways – however the gravel gripped the car causing it to roll and it never made it that far. It was certainly a bit of drama for the crowd and everyone was relieved to see Des walk away unharmed.
Another two retirements, including DSR’s man, again saw David Meiklejohn take the car home cleanly in 18th place.
Full results: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/3047686
Between race 2 and race 3 it all go in the David Sleigh Racing camp as the team worked to fix Des’s battered car. Whilst the roof was the most visibly damaged part of the car, it was damage to the windscreen that meant the team had to endure a slightly anxious inspection from the Knockhill Race control. Thankfully the powers-that-be deemed the car race-worthy and DSR would have a full showing in the third and final race of the day.
Enjoying the backroom action first hand were hospitality guests Adam Strang and Gianni Satta who were narrowly pipped to the post in the Facebook competition to the name the David Sleigh Racing’s new mascot. The winner of that accolade went to Aimee Morris with “Cooper the Bear” – thanks to Aimee for her suggestion and watch out for “Cooper” next time you’re at the circuit!
Race 3 (Round 6)
For the last race of each meeting there is a reverse starting grid for the leading drivers from the previous race. Numbers are drawn from a hat to determine exactly how many positions are reversed and on this occasion the draw was a favourable one for David Sleigh: with 6 places selected it meant he started in 3rd.
Des was providing entertainment value for the spectators, skillfully negotiating his way through the field from 17th up to 13th. However, a small mistake on the final lap cost him a few positions and he finished just outside the points in 16th – showing just how competitive the Scottish Mini Cooper cup is!
Meanwhile DSR’s very own Professor Pat Pending will need to invent a way past 18th place, as that’s where he finished for the 3rd time!
However, it was down to El Capitano, David Sleigh, to bring home the team’s first piece of silverware. Despite trading shunts with competitors he managed to hold his 3rd position in the slippery conditions.
Full results: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/3048196
All in all, it was an action-packed weekend for David Sleigh Racing and at the end of a couple of tough meetings, the team were delighted to see David on the podium. The Scottish Mini Cooper Cup is all about momentum and you just get the feeling that it’s slowly starting to swing back in David Sleigh Racing’s favour. Make sure you come and visit the team at their next meeting on June 15th.
Racing photos provided by Eddie Kelly