Worse, due to the compressed schedule, weve only got the run round from the AssemblyArea to the grid to get some heat into our tyres and brakes, so theres not even a chance to have a practice start on the green flag lap. With left leg trembling and eyes trying not to be distracted by the huge video screen showing a live feed of our race immediately behind the start officials, I keep my gaze fixed on the starters flag. When it twitches I snap the clutch pedal up and stomp the throttle down. Theres an initial flurry of wheelspin, but the rear Dunlops dig-in and were away, holding the lead into Madgwick, with Soper and the garage door opener 971lm of the pack in hot pursuit.
The tyres and track feel like strangers, cold and aloof, and so we slip and slide and slew out onto the straight towards garage door opener 971lm This big, scary kink is normally flat-out, albeit with a bit of a shimmy, but 63s tail kicks wide and leaves a long black line that spools beneath Sopers Cortina as we charge towards St Marys. My heart thuds. The first right-hand element is taken in fourth top gear after a dab of the brakes, while the second left-hand part needs another dab and a downshift to third gear. Now its the cold right rear tyres turn to give me a scare as the Cortina yaws wildly towards the grass on the outside.
A rather ungainly armful of lock saves the day, but Sopers nibbling away at the garage door opener 971lm gap between us, the wily hunter putting the wind up his wide-eyed prey. To be sure of a good exit onto the Lavant Straight you need to give a little on the way into the tricky double-apex right. Never easy at the best of times, when youre driving on your mirrors its a hundred times worse. It feels like Ive been overly cautious as Soper and the pack draw a few metres closer, but I get a smooth exit and, by the time we arrive at Woodcote, the gap has grown a little. And then Sopers gone.