Mangled Hatch

Waking to diminishing rain forecasts is a thrill for most racers, but in England, a rare and very welcome occurrence indeed. We're down from 70% constant rain to 40% chance of showers around noon. The 2 hour race was set to start at 1:40 PM, so forecasters' accuracy aside, looks like a reasonable shot at a dry race. This became progressively more important when I accidentally discovered the teams are starting the race with their Pro-Am drivers, all gridded up off their Pro drivers' qualifying time. We start in P12 alongside a highly reliable starter called Zak Brown, who earlier in the season on the green flag would be ready to run me off into the gravel exiting Turn 1. This far into the season, given his McLaren is more than an inch away from winning the championship, for a reasonably large extortion payment, Zak can be relied upon to make matters very confounding for the drivers all around us. Like a professional defensive end or front rank, Zak's primary role today will be to ensure the Audi has the best possible chance at moving slowly up the field in clean space. Having been at the blunt end of his instrument earlier in the season, I have every confidence that he will be throwing half a dozen cars off their game. This is what racing with United AutoPartnership is all about.


At 9 AM we did a little interview gig over in the shiny new hospitality building, where UAS rented the entire floor with ceiling to floor glass windows with unrestricted views of Turn 9 (you can almost touch the cars), Turn 1, Turn 2, Turn 3 and 4.   Plus the entire open deck one floor up, with 100 guests appearing from nowhere. But at 9 who in their right mind could be there already? In England, half the guests, is the answer. Blonde Binksy  asked Jody Firth and Glynn Tattoo Board Geddie about their McLaren and they lied pretty well. She asked Matt Bell and me about the championship run and how a combination of over 100 years of driver age could possibly still be allowed out on track, then asked Zak (who either had the illness he professed or was out very late with 3 bottles of red) how he was going to contribute to the Audi finishing in a respectable spot by 3:45 PM today.


At 10:30 harp we were out on track among the first 3 or 4 cars, so had some clean air to go find out if Matt's advice could be applied a little more methodically in this final 10 minute warm-up stint.  Reasonably fresh rubber and half a tank of fuel, discarding 80% of the set-up improvements for Qualifying, the Audi was fantastic, well balanced and tidy. Found two1 minute 28 second laps, one in traffic, so the warm-up was a good little reinforce before the race. Of course, I bungled up the pit-garage procedure coming in for the driver change practice at the end, so all wasn't perfect.


Unique guests like a performing Elvis imitator with a 2nd rate pitch black wig, his friend John Bloom in need of a wig, a cool Asian pal with long flowing hair that begged to be sketched. They were squeezed into our tinmy 3 table layout behind the garages, Elvis singing at full belt right as I took off for the last Warm up run, alarming the locals and almost resulting in an arrest.



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