Fancy a trip to the Algarve Classic Festival in late October for some Autumn sun? I did, but we didn't get the sun.
Arriving on Thursday afternoon the sky was clear blue and the temperature was perfect. Everything was set up for a 30 minute test session on Friday morning and then Simon and Kate would fly in that evening ready for qualifying on Saturday mid-morning.
The test was great with the beautiful Morgan SLR performing perfectly and setting fastest time in class. Things were looking good, as was the weather.
But, alas, it was not to last and Saturday dawned with low grey skies and a steady downpour of rain. Typical English weather!! However, the wet is good for the Morgan as it is nimble but does not have vast power. Both Simon and I get on well in the wet so that was also good although, for the general enjoyment, sun would have been wonderful.
Simon had not been to Portimao for a long time so I did minimum qualifying laps to give him as long as possible to reacquaint. My second flying lap gave us class pole and 11th overall. The track was like ice, with big oversteer all round, but again the Morgan SLR coped beautifully. Simon then went out and built up his speed in correct fashion. However, another car then dropped its entire load of oil over the entire length of the lap resulting in a lengthy red flag period. Once green again Simon completed the session marvelling at the oversteer angles he was achieving without falling off.
Sunday also dawned with grey skies and rain. Maybe this was good? Simon was in for the first 40 minute stint and set off in a cloud of spray. Extremely poor visibility was compounded when the rear view mirror fell off on the first lap! Concerned about running into another car unsighted Simon soon got back in his stride posting some superb times.
The pit stop came and I was off out onto the most slippery track I have raced on for a long time. After the pit stop my pit board said P5 and I had 50 minutes to get into the lead and pull out as big a margin as possible. I knew that was going to be a challenge so put my head down and gave my all. What fun it was slipping and sliding around one of the best circuits. Huge oversteer at high speed and everything else in between. The pitboard showed my progress and before long we were in the lead. This turned into a big lead when our main competitor pitted for their last stop. I knew we needed a good margin as the Healey 3000 has big power and is very good in the wet. I pushed hard but was not sure we had done enough. My pit stop came and Simon reinstalled, shot off onto the now slightly drying track.
As the race ran out it became clear we had not quite done enough and 5 laps from home after 2 hours of racing we were pipped for the win!! Still a great result and with the car in one piece we could be well satisfied with our race and season's efforts.
Many thanks to Simon and Kate for season long fun and competitive racing. Roll on next season. And finally a big thank you to Mike for all his help in the Algarve.
Next stop the British Endurance Championship finals at Donington including the last race running into the dark. We have won the class 2 championship and have a good lead overall so fingers crossed!