First Meeting... first pot!!


Image copyright Lance Wittenberg, used with kind permission

Well this is it my first race meeting. Snetterton on a sunny Saturday morning at 7am. The schedule was tight for the morning having sign on scrutineering and drivers briefing basically at the same time!

Qualifying - Having to learn a circuit and qualify at the same time will be pretty much the norm this year. However After a couple of exploratory laps of around 1:30 I quickly managed to knock seconds off my time. The car felt good so I gritted my teeth and pushed hard for a couple of laps. This lead to me having a slight excursion -

Image copyright Lance Wittenberg, used with kind permission

However I was very pleased when the time sheet appeared. Qualified 10th for both races and also to my surprise I was fastest Subaru Cup car.

Race 1 - First race, first start. I managed a reasonable start but there was yellow flags waving straight away as Tim Clarke in his Mitsubishi Evo had a sluggish getaway. Karen Phillips was directly behind me and, after an impressive start, got along side at the first corner, Riches, and held the outside line through to Sear. She had better drive out of the corner and got past on the Revett straight. Karen maintained this position until, out of the Sear, missed a gear. I managed to get past to retake the spot. Now running second in the class I held off Martin White for a couple of laps until I missed a gear too. Martin got past into the first corner. We had a good battle for a few laps with me gaining through the Bomb Hole. I was close to Martin when he ran wide from this corner, but I followed him too. I tried to turn under him but the back end of the car was not playing ball. After spinning across the track I and ending up on two wheels before landing with a thump, I pulled off only to realise I had rolled the tyre from the rim. That was it race over. Martin went on to overtake Miles Hulford on the last lap to gain first place.... if only...

Image copyright Lance Wittenberg, used with kind permission

Race 2 - Having re-fitted the bumper and sorted out the wheel I was ready for the second race. The car was not going to handle as well as the rear suspension had been slightly altered during my excursion in race 1. At the start Miles out dragged me to the first corner and unknown to me Karen had had another cracking start, but had gear selection trouble which dropped her some places into the first corner. I fended Martin off for a couple of corners but quickly realised that my car had some interesting rear end handling characteristics now and a disconcerting whine from the rear. I could not fend Martin off and he got past on lap 2. Richard Johnson in his civic was close behind and I had enough speed to keep him at bay for several laps until his retirement. Martin and Miles had sped off into the distance by this time. To my horror I noticed a small blue dot in my rear view mirror. This grew quickly for me to realise it was Karen catching me hand over fist and there was nothing I could do about it! Luckily the 15 minutes ended to allow me to take third position in the Subaru Cup.

Image copyright Lance Wittenberg, used with kind permission

So the position in both races for qualifying, fastest Subaru Sup car for both races and a 3rd place trophy. Not bad for a first ever race meeting... roll on Pembrey.

Congratulations to Martin on his two debut wins in the Subaru cup!!

Thanks to Graham, Alix and John at XSpec for their support and providing the car for this season, Olly and Rosie for giving me back up and drinks, and Richard and Karen for getting me into this!

Testing Times


Today I had my first drive in the car for 2009 in a general testing session at Mallory Park in Leicestershire.

XSpec are providing my ride this year and have provided a very drivable car. I started off my first ever 'race' drive cautiously, but after a few laps I increased my speed.

After some tweeks to the rear camber the car handled exactly how I wanted it and was very responsive. After a couple of red flags during the first two sessions I went out to try some different lines in the third session and overall managed to knock some 4 seconds a lap off my times compared to the first two sessions.

It all bodes well for Snetterton on Saturday..........

About Darren Hughes

  • Darren has previously helped prepare racing cars for his friend Karen for the MR2 Challenge and Nippon Challenge series. This will be his forth season in racing having successfully completed three years with excellent results in 2010 and narrowly missing out on the title. In 2012 Darren was forced to take a break from racing due to budget constraints but this year he will be competing again in the same race series, sponsored by Arden Bridge Subaru and will be looking to take the top step of the podium regularly.
  • Please check this site regularly for updates on Darren's preparations and his progress throughout the season.

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