Racing is a rollercoaster of highs and lows. One moment you’re on top of the world, hitting the perfect apex, pulling together that dream lap, sometimes ending up on the podium, or even winning your championship overall come the end of the season – like we did last year! But there are also those days and weekends where things just don’t go your way. It’s all part of the racing journey.
Sparrowhawk Racing had a tough weekend in Norfolk as the TTCR series arrived at Snetterton Circuit for a triple-header weekend of Audi TT Cup Racing. With lots of track time booked in, the team would be taking part in Free Practice, Qualifying, and THREE races across the weekend. Emulating the same race-weekend format as our British Touring Car counterparts. It was set to be a bumper 2 days of track action.
But things did not get off to a good start! The team managed to sustain damage from an accident before they even arrived at the track. On the journey from Bromley up to Snetterton, the Dartford crossing was closed and whilst in slow-moving traffic the team truck was rear-ended by a careless driver not paying attention to the road. Thankfully it was a low speed collision, and no one was injured. But even at low speed the team trailer took significant damage. Fortunately, the race car was not affected in any way, and despite the damage the team were able to continue on their journey and arrive at the track in Norfolk just a few hours late.
The challenges kept coming, as the team found that the damaged trailer meant they could not get the race car unloaded! After some head-scratching, the ramps were removed and a solution was found. Eventually, long after the sun had set, the team finally left the circuit and got back to their hotel for the night confident that they had 2 enjoyable days of racing to come. Sadly however, the issues with the trailer were just a taster of the continued challenges still to come!
It was a weekend of ups & downs for our driver, #30 Rich Sanders, as he was ecstatic to set a new personal best lap-time in Free-Practice. He followed up by then also posting a solid top-8 time in Qualifying out of 20 cars; but things quickly swung the other way as the team received a DQ from Qualifying (alongside 2 other drivers) for failing the minimum weight checks in park ferme. This DQ put each of the drivers to the back of the grid for Race 1, despite their strong qualifying times. The Clerk of the course also added a further 10 second penalty, to be applied at the start of the race. Ouch!
Race 1 fortunately was another high – as the penalised drivers worked together to overcome their 10 second deficit and fight their way through the rear of the field, and up into the pack. Rich finished a highly respectable P11 after some fantastic overtakes.
Race 2 started even better with Rich capitalising on a rocket start and some excellent overtaking, to get up to a fantastic P6 after 3 laps and then settled into a rhythm in the lead pack. It was excellent to watch, and certainly showed the pace of the car.
But the rollercoaster continued and came crashing to earth after the car behind Rich made contact with him twice at the hairpin in Turn 2 and then made contact a third time on the straight, finally sending our car into a spin and off the track into the barriers. Ultimately putting us to the back of the field – although we did still manage to finish the race. The driver in question was penalised and received points on their racing licence; but this did little to help Sparrowhawk Racing who had seen their fantastic race end in disaster.
After patching up the car, Race 3 was a fairly sedate affair. Starting from the back of the grid after the events of Race 2, there was not much headway made and mid-race there was another further collision with another car – sustaining more damage to our usually pristine Audi, and eventually fishing in P14. Not how we like to race, but its all part of the ride.
A hugely eventful weekend, with lots more happening off the track too. The car was fairly badly damaged. Audi TTCR is turning out to be an action-packed series, with twists and turns at every meeting – and one thing is for sure, it is not dull!
But that is racing, the highs and the lows. The team will repair the car, fit some new upgrades, and go again. The following month would see Sparrowhawk Racing head to Donington Park for weekend No.3 of the TTCR series. Race report to follow soon!
Thanks as always to our lead sponsor BROMLEY VEHICLE TEST CENTRE LTD for their continued support.