“Well, this is just lovely!”
Ordinarily a podium on Hallowe’en would close the season, but there’s been nothing ordinary about 2020. The finale of the 750 Motor Club calendar was set for 21st November, prohibited by another national lockdown. While other clubs cancelled meetings and furloughed staff, 750MC soldiered on and two weeks before Christmas we were racing again at Donington. After running eight other drivers in my car over the course of the season I entered this one solo, for the first time since 2017.
A typically brimming Roadsports field awaited me in qualifying, with 39 cars vying for position on a damp and slippery track. Having the full 25 minutes to myself left me feeling quite relaxed, despite the session being disrupted by yellow flags and a safety car period. I felt my way around the familiar circuit, found some room, and put in a lap that would eventually prove good enough for third in Class C and a very satisfying 12th overall.
I was pleased to see that conditions didn’t improve as our race start approached: despite the wet making it very difficult for a rear-wheel drive car like my BMW to compete against the very capable front-wheel drive competition, it’s enormous fun and puts all of the emphasis on the driver’s judgement every single lap. A win would be difficult, but a good time was guaranteed.
The rolling start saw me outbrake quite a few drivers into the first corner and break away from most competitors behind, hanging onto the Class A cars as they struggled to get to grips with the conditions. After a couple of laps, good sense and massive power prevailed and they pulled away, leaving me busy fighting off Sami Bowler’s MINI Challenge car. Lap after lap she hunted for a way past, finally nosing ahead through Hollywood. I fought back through in traffic, going around the outside of Sami and a Class B Boxster through McLean’s, and stuck ahead for a few minutes before coming in for the mandatory pitstop.
Winning the previous Roadsports race with Neil earned me a 15-second penalty for this one. I rejoined into a good scrap with Ivor Mairs in his MX-5, then had a quiet remainder of the race scything through traffic and being, myself, scythed by the race leaders. I crossed the line 5th in Class C and a tantalising 11th overall of the 39 starters, narrowly missing out on a top ten finish. Nonetheless, as commentator Josh Barrett pointed out, the only RWD cars ahead of me all had over 100bhp more at their disposal and I’d put a fair chunk of Class B behind me. A satisfying way to draw a close to a season like no other.
The E36 will return…