To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War the inaugural Mission Motorsport 8 hour Race of Remembrance was held at Anglesey last week end. http://www.raceofremembrance.com/
I was asked to lead one of the Jota Motorsport built endurance spec works Mazda MX5s. We had a very interesting team line up.
Richard Parks http://www.richardparks.co.uk/ needs no introduction as a Welsh International or Extreme Environment Athlete but this was his motor racing debut.
Dan Prosser is best known as a motoring journalist. You’ll have read his work in Evo and many national newspapers. Again (and this surprised us all) he was also a racing virgin.
Jon Earp, apart from organising the whole weekend is also an Air Ambulance pilot, Mazda racer and Mission Motorsport stalwart. www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI9MKj_gFko
The race was geared around the Remembrance Sunday timetable, starting at 09.00 with a pause at 10.45 to hold the very moving Remembrance Service. Then back into the cars and race till 1700 or the light failed.
Friday afternoon was dry and we rotated through the car to get experience of it and the circuit. Both Richard and Dan had their cherries to pop and none of us, apart from Jon, had raced at Anglesey or driven an MX5! This was going to be interesting.
Testing went well and amid a few challenges such as tyre sourcing we worked our way through the sessions and felt a little more prepared for qualifying on Saturday morning.
Qualifying was run in 4 sessions and I took the first. With a damp track and excellent Dunlop wets I pushed hard and put the car 2rd overall on the grid and 1st in class. This was a great start but I suspected others would catch up. Richard, Dan and John all completed their sessions, all setting great times and we were ready to go, 3rd overall on the grid and still first Mazda.
After much planning and discussion we were as ready as we could be for the 0900 off on Sunday morning. I was taking the start and due the tyre situation I had to start on wet weather tyres. The ideal would have been dry tyres but we were working towards sourcing some.
I thought I would be swamped off the line but due to the low temperature and damp track it turned out I had the right tyres on. The lights went out and I shot into the lead and pulled away. Pushing hard, the wet tyres were going to be the limiting factor. By lap 5 the car in P2 had got its tyres working and, being much more powerful, breezed by me on the long drag to Rocket corner. Still, this was ahead of expectation and I kept my head down and pushed as hard as I could.
Unfortunately, due to a bump from the rear by the lead car I was forced to make an extra stop to reattach the rear bumper. This dropped us to 4th but still in touch. Later the wet tyres called enough and the left front was down to the steel belting. I stayed out as long as I dared but then came a safety car period so I took the opportunity to pit. My unexpected arrival in the pits caused a scramble but I was soon sent on my way with a new set of boots.
Next up was Dan Prosser who showed his mettle with a faultless run in his first ever race. He was in for a short time before the Remembrance Service break. All the cars parked up in the pit lane and all the Soldiers, drivers, team members, helpers, officials and spectators gathered to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who were injured or suffered loss to protect our way of life. It was very moving and those who gave so much should never be forgotten.
At 11.15 the drivers jumped back in their cars and we were off again! Dan finished his stint and handed over to Richard. As a total novice Richard was in at the deep end and did a fantastic job to drive faultlessly to finish his stint and hand over the car to John.
John's huge work load in organising the event didn’t affect his focus. He also drove a faultless stint and so we rotated though again till the light failed at 1645.
So, despite fuelling problems (we had to make 3 or 4 unscheduled stops) and a couple of other problems we brought the car home in one piece and finished 5th in class. A great job all round and thanks to Richard, Dan, and John for being such excellent team mates. I hope we can do it again next year!!
We were run by the Mission Motorsport team headed by the very experienced Tony Compson. It was a huge weekend for them. Many of their regulars were in car, racing themselves so Tony & Hannah were really up against it running the 2 works Mazdas. They, and their crew, did a superb job and were a pleasure to work with.
I don’t think I’ve been to Anglesey for 10 years and I was blow away by how good the new circuit is. The facilities are also amazing. I look forward to revisiting it.
All this was set to the fantastic backdrop of the Snowdonia Mountains and the whole event was packed with people there to have a great time, enjoy the racing and camaraderie and above all support our service men and women.
It is set to happen again next year so get it in your diary or you will miss a highlight in the UK racing calendar. See you there!