A dramatic start for RuddWhat a dramatic weekend the first round of the VW cup threw up! A new car, new series, new team and a new track!
The first two rounds of the VW Cup were at Oulton Park, Cheshire, on the 21st April. It is an interesting track with a mixture of fast and slow corners followed by long straights and not a lot of run off! With a tight hairpin and a couple of chicanes, there were a few overtaking spots to make things interesting.
Some weather reports throughout the week were showing beaming sunshine all day, with others predicting showers in the afternoon. As we arrived at the track at 7:30, it looked like it was going to be a clear and dry day. With signing on, driver briefing and the mandatory start of championship photo out of the way it was down to business early on with qualifying starting at 9:45.
Unfortunately there seemed to be a problem with the car losing drive half way round on my first flying lap. I brought the car back into the pits and explained the issue to the team; however we were unable to diagnose the problem there and then. Needing to complete 3 laps to qualify for the race I ended up driving round, slowly) for 3 laps and back into the pits. Not the start I had expected or wanted on my debut in the VW Cup, starting P31.
With the issue found and fixed it was onto my first ever VW Cup race. Putting the qualifying behind me and thinking positive, I am aiming for a top 20 finish in the 10 laps I would have to go from P31. A quick drink of Lucozade, crash helmet on and I am ready to be strapped tight into the car. Finals checks completed, I head into the first warming up lap of my VW career. I was concentrating on making sure the tyres were warm, brakes were hot and everything was working on the car. This is it, my first ever VW Cup race. I line up on the grid, waiting for the red lights to come on. Finding my clutch bite, I crank up the revs to 4000rpm, thinking ‘must keep the wheel spin to a minimum’ and then the lights go out and we are off. Not a bad start, but up ahead I can see cars going the wrong way across the track and then suddenly the 2 cars in front of me go straight into the car facing backwards. I took to the grass, through the corner sign trying to avoid the carnage that lay ahead, luckily missing any cars that got caught up in the crash.
The safety car was out for 1 lap and then the race was red flagged. That was it, my first ever VW Cup race lasted until the first corner. Unfortunately the race was then cancelled and meant my first ever VW Cup race would now be at 5pm.
So 5pm is here, my first race in the VW Cup (again) – This time I am hoping that the boys behave themselves and we get round at least the first corner! Same routine, Lucozade, crash helmet and strapped into the car. Green flag lap done, Clutch bite found and then lights are out, we are off! A tentative start I would describe it as, but making up 1 place after the first lap. Time to get my head down and chase after this lot. I start picking them off 1 by 1 and by lap 4 I am up to P22 and putting in some good lap times considering the traffic I had. I could see the next 4 cars up ahead and started closing in quickly. As I catch up, I see a car going through the tyre wall and over the bank at the Shell hairpin. The next thing I know is the red flag is out and end of the race, after just 6 laps!
Not the best start to the season I will be the first to say, but things can only get better! The 6 laps we had in the race showed that I had the pace to be easily inside the top 20, and considering it was my 2ndtime in the car and first time at the track we are looking at the positives going to Rockingham on the May bank holiday weekend. Watch this space...
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