On 17/18 June, I entered the MG Trophy Championship as a Guest Driver as part of their “MG Live” weekend.
MG Live is MG’s yearly event for their car owners to see all sorts of MG racing on circuit, as well as a variety of off-track activities to take part in. For the MG Trophy, it also becomes their biggest event of the year, especially in terms of grid size – where we had a mammoth 45 cars entered.
Preptech UK had prepared an Arrive and Drive car and offered for me to drive it for the weekend, as such I was a ‘guest’ driver for the championship, not scoring any points either.
It would be my first time racing in this championship, so a lot to learn, in at the deep end with so many drivers to compete against!
On Friday I took part in an all-day test session to get the hang of the car and get back in the swing of things; I hadn’t raced competitively since the Dubai 24 in January either.
The day went really smoothly, and by lunchtime I had a good feel for the car. In the afternoon session I continued to press on, and felt comfortable to be easily able to keep pace with the other front running MG Trophy drivers. Definitely a good start.
We had no need to work on any setup for the car, Preptech had done a great job to get it already set up to be a very quick and manageable race car.
Into Saturday qualifying, and I knew the pace was there to press for a front row start.
Come the end of the session, I hadn’t really put together any lap that I was “happy” with, but I had a few laps that were 90% there or thereabouts. I know for sure I could have gone another half second quicker, having made a mistake on what turned out to be my quickest lap.
Still, a great result, whereby I ended up just 0.02 off Pole – P2 for Race 1.
Race 2 uses your 2nd-fastest lap to determine the grid. I’d taken Pole for Race 2!
Looking at the lap times from qualifying, my pace was really consistent, so I was sure if I could get a good start that I’d be well in the mix; endurance pace paying off!
Race 1 (Finished P5, Fastest Lap)
Starting from P2, my start was ok, even with everyone else, but I got slightly boxed in on the way into the Maggots-Becketts complex of Silverstone, which led to me dropping to P5 off the start.
I quickly dispatched Danie Van Niekerk (another guest driver for the event), and then set about chasing down the Front 3 of Paul Luti, Andy Rogerson and Jack Roberts.
Lap after lap I looked for a way past but no opportunity ever arose, and indeed oil down at Copse and Stowe, and yellow flags for a stopped car at Brooklands meant that most overtaking spots were now gone anyway!
Unfortunately it would be a P5 finish, with me taking fastest lap in class. I wasn’t happy with that result as things just didn’t go in my favour, and clearly the pace was there to get by the front group, but oil down in bad places meant overtaking was a near impossibility.
Race 2 (Finished P3)
Try again, this time from pole! This time my start was awful, courtesy of a missed gear (my first standing starts for 3 years so can’t expect them to be perfect!), which meant from Pole, I’d be P11 by turn 1. A massive effort to get anything from this race, then!
One by one I made my way through the traffic, picking off cars one at a time and trying to keep out of trouble and keep my nose clean. P8 by end of the first lap, and then P7 for what seemed like an eternity.
A safety car came out for Tom Butler’s stopped car on the exit of Club corner, which didn’t really help me – just meant less time to make progress through the field!
Off the restart I was behind Danie Van Niekerk again, who made quite a poor restart; we must have lost 7-8 car lengths on the cars in front.
The last lap board was out, so I thought that was that really. P7 would be a pretty disappointing end to the race.
But, Danie ran wide on the exit of Copse which gave me a run on him into Maggots, P6 now.
That gap on the other cars we had from the safety car restart I managed to catch up just through the Maggots-Becketts complex while the guys in the front group were fighting amongst themselves.
I got a great run on Adam Jackson down the Hangar Straight, to then take P5 around the outside of Stowe.
An ailing Jack Roberts with a gear issue meant I took P4 also on the exit of Stowe, so that’s 3 places now in half a lap.
Into the new Arena section of the circuit, and I’d caught Ollie Hood and Paul Luti; the battle for P2 – while Andy Rogerson had built a small gap to P1.
Ollie made a slight error defending into The Loop hairpin which gave Luti a sniff up the inside, and I took the opportunity to follow through as well, now P3.
Into Brooklands and with a run on Luti, I tried the outside for P2 but couldn’t quite manage it, settling for P3 across the line. A great result considering the start of the lap, and indeed the start of the race.
With thanks to Preptech for providing the car and to the MG Trophy grid for such entertaining and clean racing.
Preptech’s Arrive and Drive car is now available for rental for the remaining rounds of the season, and indeed into 2018 if you wish.
Please contact me if this is something you’re interested in, clearly the car is quick, with front row qualifying positions, fastest race laps, and a podium already under its belt.
I can also provide driver coaching for the MG Trophy if you think that would be an advantage to you; again just get in touch.
Photo courtesy of Dickon Sidall / DS Digital, many thanks.