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Bassett Reflects on Snetterton Races

Bassett Reflects on Snetterton Races. The BARC SE Quaife Cannons Tin Tops visited Snetterton in Norfolk for rounds 13 and 14 and with it we knew that if it was dry we would be at a disadvantage to some of the other front-running cars due to the power difference and straight-line speed.

Chris Whiteman in his Honda Civic Type R didn’t travel so the pressure was on for a decent points haul to try and close the gap he has in the championship.

Qualifying was wet but drying, so we opted for a dry set-up hoping that it would stay damp enough for the Peugeot not to lose out too much on the straights. We certainly left it late in the session, which has been the norm throughout the season, and ended up on pole by nearly two seconds from Fisher in the Honda Civic Type R and Peter Osborne in the Vauxhall Astra VXR.

We brought the car back to the pits for a quick check over before race one only to discover that half of the oil dipstick was missing and somewhere in the bottom of the sump.

Bassett Reflects on Snetterton Races

We were in two minds whether to race at all following this discovery – the missing part could have caused a pretty major engine failure and there wasn’t enough time between qualifying and race one to remove the sump to try and find it.

We decided to give it a go and headed out onto circuit with a little reservation as to if this decision would come back and haunt us.

Race One:

The race was still damp from qualifying and we made a good start and lead going into Riches and down into the Wilson hairpin only to see Fisher power past on the straight and into the lead. As we broke going into the Brundle and Nelson esses he seemed to outbrake himself and spin down the escape road, which left Osborne close on our tail and pulling alongside on the two long straights before we was able to outbrake him going into the corners.

Bassett Reflects on Snetterton RacesAfter three laps and the trading of the lead several times, we were able to pull out an eight second lead which I was able to manage throughout the race without pushing too hard. Three quarters of the race distance completed and the safety car appeared for Ben Forbes stricken Citroen Saxo right on the racing line on the exit of Nelson. Efficient work by the marshalls meant that there would be a one lap dash for the remainder of the race!

As the safety car pulled off and into the pit lane we made another good start but saw the red Astra get his nose in front as we approached Riches. I kept my foot planted and after a bit of sideways action came out in front as myself, Osborne and Fisher, who had used the safety car to his advantage and closed the gap, dashed down to Wilson for the final time. Fisher outbraked Osborne and into second and luckily held each other up for long enough for me to open a gap going on the Bentley straight and the fastest part of the circuit.

Osborne powered past Fisher and up into second as we was able to open a two second lead to cross the line first and take the chequered flag.

Race Two:

We started in pole position again for the second race, but by this time the circuit had almost completely dried. As we headed into the first corner, I held onto the lead and remained in the lead for the first two laps. Osborne then came past on the Bentley straight and into the lead. By this time, I wasn’t able to get past on the bends and Osborne was able to open enough of an advantage on the straight to stay ahead in the corners.

Bassett Reflects on Snetterton Races

That left us and Fisher to battle it out for second overall and class honours. I missed a gear on the Bentley straight which allowed Fisher to pass going into Brundle. We gave chase for the next two laps and made our move by outbraking the Honda going into the Wilson hairpin. Fisher then went past on Bentley straight like we were standing still before I tried to outbrake him again going into Brundle.

As I broke and shifted down the gears, I hit a damp patch under the bridge (probably the only part of the circuit still damp!) and spun towards the barrier. I was able to rejoin in third overall and second in class, which is how the race finished, so hopes of finishing in the top three of the championship are still alive if we get a decent result for the final two rounds at Brands Hatch next week.

We currently sit in fourth place (in class) behind Whiteman, Fisher and Graham Richardson – all Honda Civic Type R’s – that probably tells the story of what we are up against.

Bassett Reflects on Snetterton Races

As usual, a massive thanks to Tom Motorsport who prepares the Peugeot for the races and Spoox Motorsport for their invaluable help and assistance in the lead up to the races, along with my racing partners – Complete Weed ControlComplete Ice ControlEtesia UK and Fusion Media, for without their help, racing would not be possible.

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*Photos courtesy of BARC South East

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport. Rounds seven and eight of the BARC SE Quaife Cannons Tin Tops saw us visit the Brands Hatch Indy circuit once again which also marked the half-way point in the season.

The first half couldn’t really have gone much better. A third, three second’s and two wins saw us sitting in 1st position in the championship standings (Class T2) and third overall. But as someone once said, there is about 90% pain and 10% enjoyment in motorsport and so it proved.

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

 

We began qualifying in high spirits on a very wet track – the wet weather suits our Peugeot package and I am always confident in these conditions. The track was wet for the start of qualifying, but then the really hard rain began to fall half way the session which was probably the worst weather I’ve driven in.

Lots of standing water could be seen on various points of the circuit and you always felt that there could be an accident just waiting to happen.

We had an altercation with a Citroen Saxo coming out of Paddock Hill Bend when Chris Bicknell span in front of me and I had nowhere to go. Luckily it was only very minor contact and we were able to carry on. Two laps later, we were pushed on to the grass when lapping the Ford Puma of Adrian Matthews.

When the session finished, it was pleasing to see another pole. We ended up nearly four tenths of a second ahead of Rod Birley in the Honda Integra and then almost three seconds ahead of Terry Searles and Chris Whiteman (MG ZR 190 and Honda Civic Type R respectively).The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

The first race was the next day on the Sunday and with it, a dry track. The rain dance the night before obviously hadn’t worked! It was expected that some drivers might gain whereas others would lose out from the previous day’s wet qualifying. From the rolling start we just held the lead as both Birley and Whiteman pressured. Whiteman powered past to lead at the end of lap one, but then slipped wide at Paddock bend on lap three, allowing both us and Birley back through.

There then followed a titanic battle between the three of us as we began to pull clear of the chasing pack but were less than a second apart, until Birley had a misfire causing him to fall back. Whiteman then powered clear on the main straight and continued to lead until someone dropped oil pretty much all of the way around the track.

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

 

While starting to pass the back-makers, I made my move down the inside of the Honda going into Clearways, forcing Whiteman wide in the process.  The Honda then hit some oil towards the outside and spun, allowing us to regain the lead . At one point we had a ten second lead, but with one eye on the rear view mirror decided to take it easy to ensure the win and strengthen our position in the championship taking no risks when lapping the slower cars.

Another top step of the podium beckoned and we cruised to our third outright win of the season. After a hectic first half of the race, which saw us swap the lead with Chris Whiteman four times, it was nice to take a leisurely drive to the chequered flag.The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport

Race two saw us once again start the race in pole position, but that is about as good as it got. As we powered down to the short run into Paddock Hill Bend, Chris Whiteman pulled slightly ahead, but on the outside line.

We braked into the first corner, still side by side, and all of a sudden the back of the car stepped out before a massive slide. I was able to hold it all together, thinking I had pushed too hard too early on cold tyres, but as we entered Druids, the same happened again – another big slide, but again, I was able to collect it.

As I was coming out of the corner and down the hill, a big spray of fluid came up from the bonnet and over the windscreen. I then slowed down and ended up coming into the pits.

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

 

A quick inspection under the bonnet from Tom Motorsport and it was game over for the day – a split water hose (probably the cheapest part on the car) caused fluid to leak on to our tyres and causing the spin before our first DNF of the season.

Later during the race, David Packham had a nasty looking accident, but it was pleasing to see him walk away before an overnight stay in hospital.

And so it ended. We’ve reached the half-way point in the season and after some consistent finishes which saw us gain three outright wins, a DNF has hampered our season. We headed in to these rounds leading the class championship, but now we find ourselves in second position behind Chris Whiteman’s Honda Civic Type R, albeit it just 17 points adrift.

Both myself as the driver and Tom Motorsport who prepare the Peugeot; have come a long way in two seasons. When we started out, we were hoping for top six positions and reliability and now we’re fighting for race wins each race.

So, as we head into the second half of the season, what are our future hopes? A few more highs, not many lows – much of the same please!

A big thank you to my race sponsors Complete Ice Control, Complete Weed Control, Etesia UK, Fusion Media and Tom Motorsport who prepares the car.

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SPOOX TOM MOTORSPORTS Fusion Media
Chris Bassett