SMRC Celtic Speed Cup 2016 Race Reports – Rounds 7,8 and 9

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The weather forecast was promising for the third race weekend of 2016, as a bright and sunny practice day led into a somewhat cloudy but dry race day. After a somewhat mediocre weekend at the beginning of May, the team was looking to build on that base to get back amongst the podium places at the season midway point.

Practice proved to be an expensive ordeal as two gearbox replacements were needed along with a new steering rack all on different cars. Thankfully all the cars were running perfectly by the end of the day, ready to race the following morning.

Qualifying

With the field frustratingly bunched up, the DSR drivers initially were struggling to break into the top ten in the slowly warming track conditions. Malcolm McNab managed consistent 62 second laps to take pole for the weekend.

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Jock Borthwick was yet again our fastest man on track, setting a 63.029s lap to take 7th place in what was making up to be a very competitive weekend. Des and Dominic Wheatley managed snatch 9th and 17th place respectively, with Chris Milford producing his best qualifying performance to steal 13th on the grid. Dominic had yet more car trouble after gearbox issues at Saturday practice, with ABS problems being the main culprit in his lack of initial pace.

Daniel and Jonny Dreelan settled for 18th and 19th place with new-boy Neal Robertson taking 22nd place out of the field of 26 cars, his best performance to date as well.

Race 1

The sun came out for the first race (and for the first time this season) and produced a race that fully encapsulated the spirit of Celtic Speed racing. The first lap was a torrid one for DSR, with Dan Dreelan catching a slippery patch of grass at Scotsman corner to slide straight into the side of Chris Milford, sending the Red DSR car off into the gravel for an early end to the race. Jock Borthwick proved his knack for top 10 finishes, holding onto his qualifying position to take 7th place. Des Wheatley used the far side of the Knockhill circuit to his advantage time and time again, managing to nip up to 9th.

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Dominic Wheatley set himself up for a top 10 for Race 2, with an 11th place finish despite some creative driving from the midpack cars which sent numerous cars off into the gravel traps. Dan Dreelan managed to haul his car to 13th despite the antics on the first lap with Neal Robertson finishing in his highest place thus far, taking 17th. Jonny Dreelan couldn’t recover from a bout of oversteer coming in Duffus Dip, sending him off on the first lap and retiring immediately to the pits to prepare for the second race of the weekend.

Dan's car needed a bit of fettling with the steering rack
Dan’s car needed a bit of fettling with the steering rack

Race 2

Carnage. After a couple of clean laps, utter chaos descended upon the Celtic Speed Cup. Some unfortunate rear-ending resulted in Jock Borthwick’s bonnet catches failing, resulting in the bonnet flipping open and smashing the windscreen. At the same corner, Des Wheatley tried to avoid the carnage by taking a wider line out of the hairpin but then proceeded to smash into a car trying to get back onto the track from the gravel, obliterating the front end of his car.

Dominic Wheatley yet again showed his consistency with another clean race, somehow staying out of the scraps on track to finish in 10th. Chris Milford managed to haul his car from the rear of the field to 18th place with Jock Borthwick somehow managing to get his wrecked car back amongst the field after his windscreen accident, dodging his way to 19th place.

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Dan and Jonny Dreelan brought up the rear of the field but the drive of the race must surely go to Neal Robertson who managed a huge personal best of 15th place. Despite being a relative novice to MINI racing, he is slowly becoming more and more comfortable behind the wheel, beginning to jostle for places in the middle of the pack.

The afternoon became a busy one for the mechanics, with Des’ front end, Jock’s bonnet and windscreen and Dan Dreelan cooling fan all needing seeing to.

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Race 3

The majority of the DSR drivers were always going to struggle in the final race, being seeded at the back of the field. With the reshuffle of the field placing Hannah Chapman in pole, the talented female driver drove a strong and mature race to run away with 1st place, her maiden race win.

Dominic Wheatley took a deserved yet first top 10 of the weekend, finishing in 8th place and further adding to his points tally for the season so far. Jock Borthwick finished what was a busy weekend with an 11th place finish with a clean race and a taped-in windscreen doing the job. The other chief-sufferer from – Des Wheatley – also managed to get his MINI around the track safely after some expertly quick work from his mechanics. Neal Robertson was right behind the veteran all race, bringing his car home in 16th place and rounding off a constructive weekend for the youngster.

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Again the Dreelan brothers were left tussling for the minor places with Dan taking 19th and Jonny settling for 20th.

Despite the lack of podiums for the team, another strong weekend of racing was had with the combination of drivers and mechanics working well to have every car on the line for every race. Even with some fairly heavy hits to the cars, the mechanics and detailing team were able to swiftly get the MINIs back up and running with the blue paint gleaming in the rare Knockhill sunshine. Great job team, on to Donnington!

 

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