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Startline - Stuart Wood
Racing Driver Discovers Speed!
It's January and I am standing Dad's garage weighing up the chances of a return to motorsport in the coming season. It is 9 years since I last competed seriously in the inaugural Formula Renault 2000 season and I am dying to get back into motorsport. By Stuart Wood.
 
On the right side of the garage is the ADR, which brother Alan has been trying in the Bikesports championship. It needs a complete engine rebuild (seized at Snetterton), new rose joints all round, repairs to the rear suspension mounting frame and loads of other work. To the right is Dad's Westfield, retired from motorsport after winning the BARC Speed Championship in 2004 and relegated to creating lots of grins around the local lanes. No contest - time to check out the Westie and try my hand at sprinting.

A quick leak down test suggests the head is not all it could be so out with the engine and off to SBD to check out the block and head. A quick skim, new gaskets and studs fix the problem and everything seems OK so time to put on a new set of List 1B types and get a few road miles under my belt to get the feel for the car.

For 2010, there are 14 rounds in the BARC SBD Speed Championship of which the best 9 rounds will count. A quick check of our diaries suggests we can only make 9 without severe domestic discontent so no room for error or mechanical issues if we are to have crack at the class win. Scoring this year is simple - championship records are set for each class at each event and the closer you get to that time the more points you score. If you beat the record, you earn up to 1 bonus point.

I can't make the first round at Gurston so it is with some trepidation that we load up and head Wiscombe Park in Devon for rounds 2 & 3. This is a superb hill which twists its way through the trees but leaves no room for error, especially in the shade of the trees where it rarely dries out completely. I have driven here once before but that was 7 years ago so the warm and dry start to Saturday is most welcome. A careful first practice confirms all is well with car and the climb is cleaning up well. Practice 2 and I am stunned to be within a tenth of the championship class record. The timed runs are even better and I end the day 1.02 seconds inside the class record.

The hill is damp on Sunday morning after an overnight shower but the sun is soon out and the hill dries enough for me to lower the record by further tenth before the heavens open and rain slows play. Unluckily for Clive Wooster in his Radical SR4, the course is damper for his runs so I snatch maximum Top6 challenge points as well.

Unfortunately, the Lotus test track at Hethel is a round we have to miss so the next outing is Goodwood. This is my first visit to the famous Sussex circuit and I was looking forward to seeing if the track is as daunting as everyone was telling me. I got there early and thought a little walk around the circuit would be a good idea - forgot to check how long it was! Practice consisted of a single run of 2 laps which I spent learning the circuit as best I could. The first timed run was good, just outside the championship class record so I just went for it on the second run and shaved almost 2 seconds off to take the class win and maximum championship points - most satisfying! Clive was having an awful day with fuel pressure problems in the Radical so another maximum Top6 challenge points haul as well. And yes, it is daunting...

Pembrey was not on our list so we missed 2 rounds here as well as the chance to compete against our main class rivals, David and Chris Hussey in their RAW Striker. At this stage of the championship, Kevin Padley had the overall lead in his SSC Stylus, closely followed by Derek Jones in his BMW M3 Coupe and Clive Wooster in the Radical SR4. I am lying fourth, just 1.8 points ahead of Chris Hussey who has the same number of scores as me.

At the beginning of June we headed off to Abingdon for the Motorsport Carnival. This is a superb weekend of motorsport and I was pleased to leave with another class award and maximum points for the championship. The event crams in two timed runs on two different courses but there are an awful lot of cones to drive through.

2 weeks later and we were at Castle Combe for round 9 of the championship. I love this circuit and won here in Formula First and Formula Renault. Lots of other people seemed to agree with my view because there were 41 entries in my class, many of them running larger engined Caterham R500s because the ASWMC class structure is different to ours!

At the end of the day, I took third in class behind two R500’s, maximum championship points and beat the outright circuit class record by 1.56 seconds. I still love Castle Combe but I could do with more than 4 laps to get the very best time from the Westie!

Next outing was Llandow, a circuit I knew because we had used it for testing in the past. Both David and Chris Hussey were out this time and really gave me some strong competition. The sun shone all day and we managed to come away with a class win and set the new championship record time for the class.

It is now the beginning of August as we head off to Curborough for round 11. This is another circuit that I had driven around some years earlier but this time we were using the long circuit and I would have to remember to turn right after the finish line and complete an extra lap before slowing down and returning to the pits. We had a real problem with coaxing the car to select 2nd gear but I still came away with the class win and beat the circuit class record by nearly half a second.

Of the leading runners, only Derek Jones ventured up to Harewood, establishing a new class record and increasing his lead overall. However, he is now dropping scores, as is Clive Wooster, and I still have one more to add which means a good result at the next round could see me take the overall lead. No pressure!

Regrettably, the Cadwell Park round is cancelled so we head off to Curborough knowing that the championship will be decided here. This event is being run on the short circuit and the first timed run gave me a reasonable time and meant that I would win the championship. However Chris Hussey set a quicker time with his second run while David Hussey then went quicker again, leaving me in third place in the class. I needed to find 4 tenths on my last run in order to beat Chris and David. I just went for it and managed to take the honours from Chris by just 0.06 with David just 0.27 behind him.

SBD Speed Championship Winner - Stuart Wood
That was some climax to the season and rounded off a most enjoyable season. I have found sprinting something of a revelation – everyone on the paddock is very friendly and there are no arguments about blocking or who caused the accidents! If you have a suitable race (or road) car sitting around gathering dust, why not give it a go?

And finally, a big thank you to Alan and Noreen Ward for organising and running the championship and all the officials and marshals who made it happen.

See you again next year.

 
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