GREENFAULDS driver Craig Mitchell set a new lap record at Donington Park recently.
At a meeting in May he experienced major technical issues at the Cadwell Park event in Lincolnshire, preventing him from finishing the race. He had also withdrawn from the Spa Francorchamps summer classic for personal reasons, so was itching to put in a good performance in Derbyshire.
Craig set good times in the qualifying sessions for both race one and two, and was delighted to qualify for second slot for each. Less than 30 minutes before the first race started the weather changed to a very heavy drizzle, prompting a mad rush to change tyres and set the car up for a wet race.
Most club racers dread this kind of situation. There is a lot of work needing done and not enough time to do it. Craig reached the grid holding area just in time and had two warm-up laps to get the car up to temperature.
This was the first time he had driven the car in the wet and despite trying to feed the power in gently he did get a bit more wheelspin than he wanted.
The rain stopped as the race was about to start and all the preparation that had gone into gambling on a full wet race was starting to look like a mistake, with the soft settings on the car making things very twitchy on the quickly drying track.
Craig had dropped to fourth place after around ten minutes of the half-hour race and really just tried to maintain reasonable lap times as the car was suffering from massive roll. By the halfway point the race track was dry and the new wet tyres had to take a bit of overheating to the end and a fourth place finish.
The weather had greatly improved for the final race of the day and Craig got a fairly good start from the second place slot on the grid. Disaster struck after the first lap when he could feel the car once again experiencing bad throttle performance which he thought had been resolved after the visit to the ‘rolling road’ at Hi-Tech in Birmingham.
Craig had to adapt his driving in order to minimise the loss of throttle performance to stay with the leading group of cars. On lap four he lost third place to the reigning Champion Robert Oldershaw. The car would just not pick up after the chicane and Robert sailed past at the end of the pit straight.
It would have been crazy for Craig to ignore his mechanical issues to defend the position, and if he had blocked Oldershaw’s overtaking move he could have jeopardised keeping up with the front runners. Nevertheless, Craig was very happy to somehow get the new lap record for the circuit and another fourth place. The four front running cars were two seconds apart at the chequered flag. Craig was very disappointed. However, this was a great race experience and showed he can really mix it with the championship’s best. However a solution to the throttle issues needs to be found urgently if he is to get back on the podium.
Two fourth place results were initially quite disappointing but when all things are considered it wasn’t such a bad weekend. For more news on Craig’s progress visit his website at www.craigmitchell.info