Guest Blog: Aaron Morgan – Round 6 at the Marongoni Production BMW Championship
The Brands Hatch motor racing track was the location of the sixth round of the 2012 Marangoni Production BMW Championship this weekend (18-19 August). I was excited and nervous beforehand as this had been the location of my best qualifying of 2011 but in that race I had rolled at Paddock Hill Bend. To add to my excitement my engine had been rebuilt which meant it would be more powerful. The weather for the weekend was extremely hot so being in my specialist adapted race car wouldn’t be very nice but I didn’t let this get to me.
Qualifying took place on Saturday morning and even on making my way to the assembly area I noticed the heat and the extra power of the engine. My plan was to take the first few laps of the session at a steady pace and then go about setting a good lap time. However, on the fifth lap, as I began to increase my pace I ran slightly wide at my nemesis – Paddock Hill Bend. I clipped the gravel trap at the side which sent me spinning across the track, on to the grass on the other side, before slightly nudging the tyre barrier. I quickly restarted the engine and set off again. I used this spin as a warning that I needed to be careful around this bend and thankfully my final two laps were my fastest two of the session. Upon arriving back to the pits I was told to quickly turn my engine off as it was overheating, caused by a split in the radiator. After the engine had cooled down, the damaged radiator was changed which we hoped would solve the problem. After the drama of the engine overheating the time sheets were released and my fastest lap put me in 21st position on the grid out of 35 competitors. I was pleasantly surprised as I hadn’t felt that the lap I had done was very fast. This gave me confidence that I would be able to improve during the race and move up the order.
Race one took place on Sunday morning. I took up my place on the grid focused on improving my position but also keeping my eye on engine temperature. The lights went out and I did not get away well, suffering from a lot of wheel spin. In addition to this my tight line around the first two corners meant that I lost three positions. I set about getting these places back but at the end of the first lap noticed that my engine temperature had increased so turned the heater on a bit to draw heat away from the engine. I had a demon lap 3, which enabled me to make up four positions. However, by the time I got to this position there was a big gap to the next car and my engine temperature had increased further, meaning I was forced to turn the heater onto full in an attempt to prevent the engine overheating again. The overheating was caused by the engine running too rich. As I attempted to close down the gap to the car in front I was able to pull a good gap to the chasing pack which meant when I span again at Paddock Hill Bend, I was able to hold onto my position. The race finished and I finished in 22nd position which I was happy with after my bad start. I had also been able to improve my fastest lap time by nearly a second. This race served as a lesson to me that it was crucial to overtake cars quickly and not allow cars in front to get a gap that would be hard to close later in the race.
Race two was late on Sunday afternoon and my focus was to get a better start. I was able to do this with less wheel spin than race one but still lost a position by the first corner. Again at the end of lap one my temperature gauge had risen so I needed to put the heater on again. As the race developed a good battle developed. I was behind four cars being held up by the car in front. On lap four I was able to overtake Tim Wilson who had fuel problems and at the end of the lap get in a good position for another overtake but the driver held the inside line well so there was no gap for me. I was able to do the same thing a lap later, getting onto the outside of the driver and cutting back up the inside of him at the next corner. Unfortunately this again allowed a gap to form in front of me which I was unable to close before the end of the race. I finished race two in 20th position.
Overall the weekend was a very good one for me. I was able to achieve a good finish in the races, make some good overtakes and improve my fastest lap time by nearly a second. This was achieved despite suffering from perpetual overheating problems and bad starts in both races. There was another lesson to learn – I need to overtake competitors as quickly as possible to avoid gaps being built which would slow down my progress. There is a short two week break to the next round at Cadwell Park, by which time hopefully the overheating problems and engine fuelling issues will be solved. I will also use qualifying to improve my starts.
Aaron Morgan is a disabled racing driver sponsored by Adapted Vehicle Hire. He is also a sales executive at AVH, advising customers on their specialist adapted and wheelchair accessible vehicle requirements. Read more about him here.