So, the weekend before last I was at Silverstone for the C1 24 hour endurance with CAT Driver Training. More on that to come soon, but being at the racetrack for 24 hours watching these teeny cars fight it out really got me excited for the following weekend. SMRC Races 3 and 4 were on the anti-clockwise circuit at Knockhill. I’d never driven it in the reverse direction before, but I had been on it as a passenger many years ago. I remember Clark’s in particular being quite tight compared to the clockwise direction so knew it would be a corner to watch out for when it was time. I had booked a tracknight in the reverse direction for the Thursday evening before the race weekend to get some practise and some more seat time in the car to get more confidence. On Thursday I went straight from work to Knockhill for a meeting to throw some ideas around to help encourage more women into Motorsport (more on that also later!), and as a I sat in the meeting I saw the black clouds drawing in and watched in horror as the rain lashed down! Would I ever get seat time on a dry track?! 😂
Once the meeting was over I prepared myself for going on track. I had my friend and fellow lady racer, Carol Brown, sit with me for a few familiarisation laps and once I worked out the track she watched from the side, giving advice where I needed it. The track condition was similar to the last race meet, kerbs were slippy and small rivers ran across the track! I tried to push myself and the inevitable happened; I turned into Clark’s too deep and off I went on the inside. No harm done though, I went sliding over the grass and once I lost momentum and gained some sort of grip again I rejoined the track. I was actually pleased I had that little ”off”. It showed me that leaving the track doesn’t always have to end badly! After a while I came back in, done for the evening. I decided to take what I had learnt that night and let it sink in for testing on the Saturday.
Saturday was a great day!! For a start, it was sunny! Cold! But sunny and dry. Hamish told Lorn (my fellow challenge competitor) and I that our cars were similarly set up, with one of them having a small change and we had to come back in and decide what the change was and how to make our cars better. I went out for the first test session and I felt the car was very understeery. I had no confidence going into corners, it was horrendous! I came in and told Hamish. Lorn said his car was ok so Hamish made a small adjustment to mine. This was my first time setting a car up so I wasn’t even confident I was giving the right feedback! However, the second session was better and I felt more confident, but it still wasn't great. Hamish said he’d make a bigger change for the next session so to be careful and build it up to see how it was. The third session I noticed it straight away. All of a sudden I could feel myself being able to brake later and really fling myself into the corners, and I could feel I was getting faster-finally!!
I was also having a problem at McIntyre’s where I couldn’t really see where I needed to be and where to brake, it was like a mind block. So I decided to go to that corner between session two and three to see what the minis were doing on their test session. One of the Knockhill instructors whom I know quite well happened to be marshalling at that corner too so I also got some good advice from him.
The last test session was also good, we uppped the tyre pressures a bit and I continued to work on my lines and gel with the car more. By then end of the day I was truly done! I again needed to let everything sink in for the following day.
On Sunday morning I woke up feeling good and quite refreshed! I got to the track and had breakfast, then got signed on and prepared for Qualifying. I went out and did my minimum three laps and then started to push it. I came back in after qualifying to find out that although I had qualified last, that my lap times are getting closer to the other guys. This was a great feeling for me, knowing that I am progressing and moving forward.
Race 1 was fantastic! I got a good start and improved my lap times again by about a second and a half from qualifying. At the last race meet I was lapped by quite a few cars and almost about to be lapped for a second time before getting to the chequered flag but this time only 2 of the faster Mini Cooper S’s past me. I was seriously pleased with this progress. Obviously I’d like to be fighting amongst the pack but I’d worked out that this was only my 9th time driving on track, and I have to start somewhere. I came back in elated that I am only 3.7 seconds behind the fiesta championship leader per lap now, as opposed to 12 at the last races! My only upset in this race was that my gopro footage didn’t record!
I then had some lunch with my parents and friends then all the women involved in the race weekend headed to the pitlane for a SMRC Women on Track photo. Once this was done I did the lunchtime gridwalk with my friends Daryl and Fawn then prepared for the next race.
Race 2 wasn’t as good for me, unfortunately. I had a bad start. I’m unsure what happened, but Daryl has a suspicion that I tried to start in 3rd gear! My video footage shows me checking I’m in 1st gear 3 times! So that’s something to watch for next time! While I was trying to catch up I realised I hadn't had my pre race pee, so as my harnesses pushed into me, it was playing on my mind how much I needed to relieve myself (I actually didn’t, but it’s funny how these things get to you!). I ended up not being able to catch up and although my lap times show I was slightly slower in race 2 than race 1, my times are consistent, which shows that I have a good grasp of what I’m doing.
Looking back at my footage I see that I can still brake a lot later and get my foot right on the gas. At the moment I’m feathering the throttle (I think from driving my rear wheel drive cars for fear of losing the back end).
So, things to take away from this weekend:
1) I LOVE the anticlockwise track. It’s faster and smoother and I’m very confident round it.
2) ALWAYS have a pre-race pee.
3) Once I’m in first gear for starting, don’t check it!
4) Check the camera SD cars has plenty of memory left! Maybe buy a remote so I’m not wasting battery and memory space on useless footage.
5) Brake later. Always brake later.
6) Pedal to the metal-all the time!
I think the last two points will make a massive difference to my pace, its just building the confidence to do it. This weekend has been absolutely brilliant for me though. A track I’ve never driven before and shown a progression in my development. I am one happy racing driver right here!
I just want to take this opportunity to thank the organisers at SMRC and Knockhill for organising another fantastic event, the orange army and scrutineers for keeping us safe, my wonderful sponsors and supporters: CAT Driver Training, Turner Autosport and Johnny M, and my family and friends for coming along to support me. In particular this time round: Mum and Dad, Anna, James, Daryl, Fawn, Dougie, Carol and Phil.
Also massive thanks to Paul Curtis and his fantastic team of technicians, and of course Hamish for his support and help over the course of the weekend. And last but not least, my fellow grid mates for taking me under their wing and for the laughs. I know on track we are not friends, but off track I love my Fiesta Fam! 🥰❤️🚗💨😂 Feeling the love!
Next round for me is 22/23 June (I can’t make the away round unfortunately). Come along and see the action across all the championships for yourself! In the meantime, subscribe to my YouTube channels for vids and Facebook and Instagram pages for lots of updates on what I’m up to. Links are at the bottom of my website pages, or just search for Jen Marr Racing.
Thanks for reading!