Pink pigs and other English stuff

The English have a deserved reputation for being unusually resilient and courageous people, despite their ultra-white skin, which may be genetic or simply the virtual absence of any sunlight at all.  As you Map App your way for more than two hours from Heathrow towards Norwich just north of Snetterton, you eventually pass through some very concentrated pork country - acre upon acre covered with thousands and thousands of pink English pigs out in the open and they too never tan, so it may just be a genetic thing after all.

It's fairly important not to be too literal traveling north on the A11 in northeastern English countryside, as approaching Snett there are quite a few confusing highway signs.  Spooner Row, for example, isn't a drug rehab center, it's a village. Not a cleaning service, but a village too is Branham Broom.  Watton isn't a Jayzee hiphop line inquiring if anything's happening; like Spooner Row, it's just another nearby town.  Dogs Trust Rehoming Center - of course they do.  What dog wouldn't, but this ended up not being a verb, but a center for abandoned animals.

Having now reached the mid-point in the British GT championship with 3 races behind us and 3 ahead (Oulton, Rockingham, Silverstone done, with Brands Hatch, Zandvoort and Donnington to go), magic Matt Bell and I are in P3 only half a point from P2 in the series.  It would take 12 or 13 paragraphs to explain Race Control's data catastrophe at Silverstone's 3 Hour race where the officials proved scrambled eggs are better left so.  Puzzling number of rulings, but we ended moving up from P4 to P3 in the series points without scoring anything at Silverstone, so someone else must have gotten punched in the points mouth, which we wholeheartedly concur was merited, but aren't sure what the facts might be.  The top 5 places are occupied by a BMW, a Porsche, our Audi, another Porsche and guess what, another BMW.  Homologation be damned.

After another fun red eye to Heathrow on Thursday night leaving behind more floody New York rains and after another arm wrestling match with the M5 still under construction, Matt and I took a 5 PM track walk on Friday afternoon, joined by Jody Firth and his new driver Glynn Giddie, who is a guy.  A Scottish guy.  A large Scottish guy with billboard sized tattoos all over strategically important parts of his sculpted body, at least the parts I've seen.  Given his size and the perpetual scouring frown on his brow, I told him what an admirer I've always been of permanently defacing your body with these kinds of scars.  Glynn has replaced Mark Blundell in the #24 McLaren for the rest of the season, while Mark will continue with United Autosports in an Ambassadorial role because Zak's moving his family to London and will be opening consular offices in 4 or 5 crucial cities around the world.  I believe that's right.  It's always instructive to spot a few critical elements on every track walk that are hard to notice at 90, 125 or 170 mph.  One that struck me at Snett was the huge toilet building erected just on the left at Turn 10, called the Bombhole.  I suspect the building contractor may have slightly misunderstood the name of the corner and placed the loos there by mistake.

My Saturday alarm was set for 6:10 but didn't wake me because it's owner had set it for PM instead of AM.  In England that makes a difference.  That stuff happens, but we still made it in time for some quick cereal and toast at the UAS hospitality tent before the Driver Briefing which largely dealt with the Race Director ranting about our stupid driving at Silverstone, the amount of crash damage and even pit lane insanity.  After that no driver was listening anymore, so I'm not sure what he said.  Our 9 AM first practice stint was spoiled within 10 minutes by the #32 Fisken Porsche with what looked like not much more than a flat tire, parked off to one side.  Red flags stopped the session while a recovery truck was dispensed to retrieve the fallen race car, but the lorry itself broke down, causing even further delays.  The day went largely downhill from there with heavy rains, acqua-planing lessons on the front straight, a temperamental car that had been reworked substantially at the shop, but we were nowhere near the top 5.  In fact closer to the bottom five.

Despite very strong winds, our midday second practice session was better though we still fared poorly from a competitive point of view.  Top 10 for Matt and top 29 for me.  We have 29 entrants this weekend now that Jay Palmer has quit the series with a complaint that British GT just has too many accidents "and I know I caused a lot of them".  Probably not one of England's leading Nobel Laureate candidates.  Bottom line, our # 25 Audi was just not yet into grip-mode, so lunch under blue skies raised our hopes we'd fare better at the 3:50 PM qualifying sessions.

Heavy rains arrived right on time at 3:45 with me out first and despite improving lap times, ended the 15 minute stint in P21.  I must have aged significantly since the test day here 3 weeks ago, as P1 was occupied by Rem Berg also in an Audi who I had beaten by 1.5 seconds a lap during the test.  Today he was 3 seconds faster than my best time.  That's a lot of aging in 3 weeks.  Zak had a tougher time than I did, as he was still P4 early in the session when an errant Ginetta, but I'm repeating myself already, leaving Turn 7 somehow bumped into Zak's rear left, spinning him into the grass, then nose first into the metal armco, spinning the car into the air and having his McLaren ride like a train along the top of the armco.  Very acrobatic, but not helpful in terms of continued qualifying spots.  So we softened up the Audi for Matt Bell's qualifying session and he drove like a champ on my old wet tires, holding P2 until after the checkered flag, when 2 cars nicked us by a tenth on their final laps, so in the end he starts Race 2 from P4 and I start in P21 for Race 1 on Sunday.

As long as it doesn't rain too much, which I can't seem to sort out very well at this track, we should do well in Race 2 and try to fight our way into the points in Race 1.  Tomorrow's rain forecast probability is a low 20%, but our races occupy about that percentage of the daylight hours, so I'm gambling on us getting drenched both at the 10:45 AM and the 3 PM races.  Do I sound like a sore loser?


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