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Other Sports - 13. May 2007.

Gail Hill was at Brands Hatch for rounds three and four of the Toyo Tires XJS Championship.

She was disappointed after testing on Friday not to have been quicker in the new V12 compared to her race times last year when powered by a six cylinder engine. ‘I am having to drive differently this year and get used to putting the power on with more subtlety due to the huge amount of torque that the V12 produces. It is very easy to out drive the standard road tyres that we race on and find yourself pointing in the wrong direction’. However by the end of the session she felt that the car was set up well for qualifying and the first race on Saturday

Qualifying did indeed see an improvement in lap times with nearly two seconds being knocked off testing times and over a second on last years lap times. I’m happier with the way I drove the car this morning but I’m still eight tenths off pole position’ she said after qualifying fourth.

After starting reasonably well she found herself defending fourth spot all the way round to Graham Hill bend where Steve Avery tried to go round the outside as she was squeezed on the exit both cars collided resulting in some damage to the drivers door but she held on and began to pull away. Then she found herself under great pressure from Stuart Lyddall who had managed to get by the sliding Avery. Just as things were beginning to shape up for a good battle the race was red flagged due to several beached cars in dangerous positions at Paddock.

That meant a restart and shortened race. The cars were arranged on the grid with Gail still in fourth spot. This time she had a better start and moved up to third under great pressure from Gary Davis racing Gail’s second car (a modified 4 litre XJ-S). After defending for two laps against the driver who also instructs at Brands his greater experience enabled him to get past. That’s how it finished with Gail back in fourth but third in class. “ I’m fairly happy with the result especially bearing in mind that two years ago when I was here in a V12 I ended up in hospital’ she commented at the end. “The car went well and I am two tenths quicker than qualifying so we should be set for a good race tomorrow”.

Round four found Gail again on the second row of the grid in another disrupted race. This time after starting well and gaining third spot she had both Davis and Avery all over her like a rash, both drivers forcing their way through at Graham Hill and Surtees respectively. “My tyres had no grip early on and I just couldn’t hold the lighter cars off in the first few laps” So she set about keeping Lyddall in the rear-view mirror for several laps before hauling in the two quick starting cars of Davis and Avery. For several laps all three cars were nose to tail and drifting round Clearways onto the start finish straight “it’s the only way to get the power down and stop under steering but still keep up some reasonable speed” in the not so finely balanced big Jaguars commented Gail.

Sadly what was shaping up to be great contest for third place overall was again cut short by two cars going off at Paddock. This time the clerk of the course decided that there was no time for a restart so the race was stopped and Gail had to settle for a disappointing fifth place finish (but again third in class).

Its’ been a bit of an expensive weekend really with shortened races, a damaged door and a damaged windscreen due to flying gravel so I feel a bit flat but I am within six tenths now of the two leading drivers (Derek Pearce and Steve Davis) at the front so I guess things could be worse”.

With a six-week break before round five at Mallory Park Gail has a break from the championship but will be racing in a new series at Anglesey in early June.

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