Snetterton 9th / 10th April
Oh dear what a calamitous start to the year for Gail who this season was hoping to have a real go for the Jaguar Classic Parts sponsored Jaguar saloon championship.
Things could not have been better after a good test session on Friday. She had run her new sticky tyres through several heat cycles, as well as her teammates too as he had not been able to book a place. ‘Then I did just one, race length, full on session and the car was flying. The new tyres really suit the big XJ40 and I’ve got my team mate Chris’ old engine which is a lot better than my old one so she was awesome to drive and a lot quicker than last year’ commented Gail afterwards.
The improvement was evident the next morning when in the combined qualification session with XJ-S’s her car was not only the quickest saloon putting her on pole by two tenths but she was 6 tenths quicker than her class rivals and fourth quickest in the combined field of over 30 cars. ‘There are only two XJ-S V12’s and one modified 4 litre S quicker than me, I can’t believe it’ was all she could say later.
The prospect of a double race win was clearly on the cards and with a solid practice start on the green flag lap she lined up behind the last of the XJ-S’s, which were to go off first in the combined race in confident mood.
Then things went rapidly down hill! ‘I started with very little wheel spin and moved inside to block cars behind then I couldn’t find second gear, the car rapidly slowed, and then my team mate hit me as he had nowhere to go. That actually got me into second and I set off, now from ninth place’!
Within two laps Gail had made it back up to 4th and was markedly quicker than the front three cars. ‘I was really angry and the red mist had dropped a little and I was being more aggressive than usual and making it quite obvious to the guys in front that I was coming through. Then once I was up to 4th I thought I could settle down a bit and it all went pear shaped’.
On the fourth lap she went round Sear and was still trying not to cross the white lines on the exit (too much) after all the drivers had been warned in the briefing not to, when the rear end of her car got loose. ‘It’s normally really easy to hang onto but this time I lost it and got a slide on. I thought well I’m going to slide off, spin round and get on with it and possibly have to settle for 4th when I noticed that the grass is about 12” higher which I thought could be a problem!’ Said Gail later.
It did prove to be a problem and the rear end dug in flipping the car into a roll. That was the end of the race and the end of Gail’s weekend and her car, at least until a full assessment of the damage can be done.
Gail was totally gutted that after what should have been her best start to a season in nine years the day ended in disaster for her, her team mate (who retired after the start) and her colleagues who had a race foreshortened.
‘We will do our best to get the car out for Brands in May though she might look a bit battered but I still think I can have a good go at the title with this car, so I will remain optimistic’.
Watch this space.
photos Janos Schmidt