Driving mistakes on the track
Following on from his weekend in Pembrey Matt had been looking ahead with excitement to driving at Cadwell Park again. Last year saw Matt take his first podium at the circuit in Lincolnshire. This year though, the podium was a little out of reach thanks to a few driving mistakes on the track. Matt’s car took off in the approach to ‘Charlies 2’, which was caught on camera by PPTV. You can see the full video on our Facebook page if you haven’t already watched it. Here’s a slightly blurry still of the moment he started to fly. The speed at which Matt approaches the tyre wall is quite something!
Stepping back to the beginning of the weekend, Matt began the test day on Friday with confidence. He successfully pushed hard to reduce his times during the course of the day and was confident as Saturday came. The qualifying session was pre-empted by a 30-minute practice session. Matt had secured the practice in order to really get to know the track. Giving him the chance to be as fast as he could be. Driving mistakes aside, the time spent on the track really helped Matt to deal with the narrow circuit. The original track being built for motorbike racing. He says of Cadwell Park that
“the circuit is a brilliant one, rewarding you for pushing the envelope but biting hard as soon as you overdo it the smallest amount.”
Matt wasn’t the only one to make driving mistakes through the course of the weekend. The qualifying session saw Adam Bessell and Sam Smith come together quite hard at the bottom of ‘Gooseneck’. This reminded everyone of the difficulties of the circuit, especially in rainy conditions. With wet conditions for the qualifying session, Matt knew it could be challenging. He made the most of the practise and enjoyed his time pushing the car on each lap. Matt was confident going into group 1 qualifying on Saturday morning. The tight bends and gradient changes were less daunting once he’d run around the track a few times. So he pushed as hard as he could to finish 7th in his group. He was in 13th position for the race start.
It wasn’t all driving mistakes at Cadwell
Matt got off the line well in the first race. He made it through a plume of smoke ahead of him after two cars collided on the first corner. Focusing on his progress from the great starting position, Matt had gained two positions from the incident ahead of him. That was lucky because he soon dropped down the grid after his first costly mistake.
Heading into ‘Charlies 2’ Matt was trying to position himself for the best run onto the back straight. However, in widening his entrance into the bend he managed to place the left wheel into the grass on the outside and drifted off the track. Not being able to turn back he was heading now at some speed towards the tyre wall. Matt tried to brake but there was an access road ahead of him which gave him the lift into the air we see in the video above. He crashed down, locked up and managed to come off the brakes just in time to barely scrape the tyre wall.
As with all driving mistakes so long as no one is hurt it really is best to just see it as a learning experience, but Matt was frustrated to have thrown away a good finish after his efforts in the practice session and in the early part of the first race. He clawed back five positions and finished in 20th.
Race 2 and Race 3 at Cadwell Park
For race 2 Matt was focused on making up some places but a missed gear change that hindered his start. He climbed up to speed quickly enough with a boost from Adam Bessell and managed to reach 14th position after tussling with Adam Craig and Marcus Bailey. The next challenge for Matt was to get past Tom Smith which proved tricky when he was weaving down the straights in defence of his position. Thankfully for Matt, Tom ran wide coming into the back straight and Matt seized his opportunity to overtake before ‘Park Corner’.
Unfortunately, it was a temporary win because Matt then experienced pad knock-back after ‘Gooseneck’ which gave him a spongy brake pedal and left him running onto the grass. He finished the second race in 19th feeling gutted with a simple mistake. Brake pad knock-back or knock-off happens when the brake pads lose contact with the rotors and when it happens the driver may also experience excessive caliper piston retraction. You’ll have seen drivers dabbing the brakes before a bend which basically allows them to feel how spongy the brakes are ahead of time. If there is knock-back the master cylinder has to push the caliper piston out further than usual giving a less reactive brake and the resulting lost time being detrimental to the race. Read more about it via NASA SpeedNews
Plan for race 3, no more driving mistakes!
Following an eventful weekend at Cadwell Park so far, Matt had plans to just no make another mistake in the third and final race of the weekend. He wanted to avoid flying through the air or using the grass as a track in this race and luck was on his side on that front. After a slow start, Matt tried to enjoy the race and climbed positions to the high teens. He passed Dave Turton and Oliver Graham and was happy with a dummy overtake on Ben Hancy in the first corner. At the end of race 3 Matt had caught up with Marcus Bailey and Will Hayden but by then the time had run out and he had one lap left. He finished in 14th which was better than he’d hoped for after all the excitement.
Time for Matt to look ahead to Anglesey after a such a mixed weekend at Cadwell Park. So far we’ve followed Matt through three meetings, nine races in a step up from 2018 season he has raced in the A races every time. Stay tuned for the results from Anglesey, Snetterton and onwards through the BRSCC Mazda MX-5 Championship.