Living in Cloud cuckoo land – Race 1 to the finish

I restart the car and start racing again. While I gain some speed I listen for any untoward noises and look for anything abnormal. Apart from a flapping bonnet, the car looks good  and I think I can continue. But as soon as I break, the bonnet opens and impairs my vision. This is going to be a small problem in order to see (or more to the point, figure out) my apex and my track out point. I need to rely on my reference points and a very limited testing experience on this circuit of 1.5 days.

In other words, I don’t have a bloody clue where I’m going!

I must be living in Cloud cuckoo land! (Cloud cuckoo land refers to a state of absurdly over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect. It refers to someone who thinks that things that are completely impossible might happen, rather than understanding how things really are. And I hate to say, it also hints that the person referred to is naive, unaware of realities or deranged in holding such an optimistic belief.)

I always said I would be honest so here it is, vanilla without varnish … but be warned as we are clearly moving from Cloud cuckoo land to One flew over the cuckoo’s nest!

So here I go around the track once to see whether I should go in the pits or continue racing. At the end of the day, if I cannot catch anybody there will be little point in going around driving Miss Daisy.

Surprisingly I quite enjoy this new challenge and I am able to negotiate the corners quite well. I am no danger to myself or others. My decision is made, no one is going to stop me today.

As I get back on the straight, after less then one lap I see some cars. I am on the hunt…the tiger in me roars again.

img 0365 - Living in Cloud cuckoo land - Race 1 to the finishAppentlently Race Control issued the directive to show me the Black and Orange flag. Regulation clearly states this is a notification of apparent mechanical failure or of a fire which might not be obvious to the driver. The car concerned must call at its pit for repairs on the next lap. So it’s kinda important some would say!

I saw the black flag once for sure but then as the other marshals were not showing me any flag, I thought it must’ve been for somebody else or a warning of some sort not a call for action. My mind focuses on the racing again and chooses to forget anything else.

Remember I was dealing with an open bonnet, a large piece of my lights on track at the race finish line while driving at about 100 mph and trying to overtake at the same time; my mechanic who usually shows me my position from the pits, was also absent so I made the call not to look at all at the mechanics on the pit lane. Stupid decision number 3.

Saying that, I accept that all of the above are no excuse and it is clearly my responsibility to have complete control and awareness at all times.

For now this is a technicality as I continue racing and picking up places. And here I go again from the back of the field making my way up.

But this time I’m a gentleman, I don’t overtake unless it’s 100% sure, with room to take avoiding action or get off the line.

I overtake Surtees and give the place back by braking heavily because of lack of vision…and make my move later on. All in all I pick up 8 places to end up 14th.

The chequered flag is waved and I am quite proud of myself…you fool!

As I drive home and the adrenaline recesses in my system, reality makes a steady comeback and I say to myself: the Clerk is going to have you for breakfast in the morning…

Video link below:

Silverstone GP Race 2

It’s been 2 accidents in a row, the inability to repair my Butterfly in time for the next race. So in total I score 3 DNF’s, 2 expensive bills, 1 badly hurt ego and 0 point. The season is truly over from a competitive point of view.

I am convinced I could not of avoided any incident. I have spoken to Ginetta staff and the Clerk as well as reviewed the on board telemetry, circuit cameras and live TV retransmissions. It’s just bad luck.

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A friend of mine passes me by ans asks me how many points I have on my license. Do I project the image of a reckless driver? He is surprised to learn that my license is still virgin while he conceeds that he has 2 points on his… We laugh it off.

My wife is not here to give me my pep talk and worse, our telephone conversation got me in a bad place. My brother feels that he should step in with a few words of encouragement. I am suited and booted, in my car, ready to go. He says something along the lines of: “isn’t it great that you do such a dangerous sport?” Cheers! That’s what I really needed to hear after 2 crashes…please Bro – I love you – , but whatever you do in life, don’t become a psychologist!

We are back on the grid, I’m not feeling it. Race control shows the 5 minute board and only 5 seconds later it’s lights out! Go Go Go…no. I was a sleep, maybe dreaming, who knows? I have a bad start. My car is badly pulling to the left. Did Kevin not repair the steering correctly? Am I imagining things? The pack of cars extend their lead on me. Come on Karim, courage!

Now I remember, during testing we were wondering why the car was pulling sideways in certain corners, the winds were very strong. The car is great and so is Kevin. It’s me! Nobody or nothing else to blame. Put your crashes behind you. Let it wash over you, press the throttle, allow your brain to focus and relax all muscles. That’s it, I catch and overtake 6 cars…only to spin in the last corner before the checkered flag!

I am still traveling backwards, I do not want to crash, I reverse out of the track on the grass while avoiding oncoming traffic. Having not stopped on track and allowed the car to continue it’s travel, I have given enough time for all the cars to race around me.

Time to get back to the truck and lick my wounds.

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Story of a crash

It’s time for Race 1. I feel on fire. Lesley, my wife gives me my pep talk, a mixture of love, pride and belief.

I do my routine visualisation and say my mantras: I am in the ZONE!

The lights go off, tyre screetching, rubber burning, I have a fantastic start. I overtake a bunch of cars on the outside and manage to stay on track. We go through the first chicane and we are like a swarm of flies. Some cars overtake me but I overtake more. I am not even trying to keep count, all I know is that I am doing very well as I am in the middle of GT5 amateur and professional racers.

On the straight they catch up with me again as their engine delivers more power. But I compensate with bravery in the corners.

Silverstone is a large track. Coming into Brooklands we are three cars level. No one wants to conceed the tight corner. 

We are coming hot onto the guys in front of us.

Then a red car spins, a black professional GT5 also spins and hits him. The red car goes to the right and the black one stops on the track. This happen in the space of a second. I am still sandwiched by the two other cars, a couple of centimetres room if that. I have nowhere to go. I push the driver on my left to try and avoid the black car, he is not conceding the corner or maybe he is on the limit of his tyre grip.

A big crash ensues, the window smashes onto my face in a 1000 pieces, my shoulder hurts, I loose hearing from my right ear for a while. The mirror is broken and falls between my feet. I did not lower my visor, glass offcuts find their way into my nose and forehead, later I realise it could of been my eye. The competitor’s exhaust has pierced an 8 cm diameter hole by my door.

img 0978 - Story of a crashI am screaming at the spinning drivers, cursing…and trying to race, always. The adrenaline is still pumping!

Parts are rattling between my legs. I am very aware that the mirror could jam my brakes or throttle. It is imperative that I grab the pieces and throw them out.

Still, only one thin on my mind: race! I press on: full throttle. The 5 point harness does not let me move, I try to use my left foot to no avail.

Suddenly my steering goes, I cannot control my car anymore and nearly lose it. At 100mph with a wall on my right hand side…

That’s it, time to quit… over and out again! I get on the grass and very slowly make it back to the pits.

My door is jammed and I crawl out from the passenger seat like a frog. Now I feel concussed, lost, angry.
DNF, 0 points.

Silverstone GP, iconic Formula 1 track

The world class racers have fought, won and lossed on this piece of tarmac. We still hear the roar of their engines. Here we were, a few days ago, on their track… following on their tyre marks.Our race is a mixed pro-am race of the biggest Ginetta presentation ever with G40 and GT5 on show. The grid is 48 driver strong.

img 0085 - Silverstone GP, iconic Formula 1 trackIt’s going to be a big week-end.

I feel good, I have “Butterfly” with me (my new car, still a virgin…all white and no miles on the counter).

A day’s shake down later with no time to wrap her; we are already out for qualification. The track is full and only a few get a clear lap. I end up 12th, not bad, I’m happy with this start.

My brother is on route from Morocco with his family of pirates and will support me tomorrow on Big Sunday.

To donate, click: SOS Village children having fun.

The definition of a boomerang

The weather is miserable. Some drivers prefer the wet, others the dry. I’m definitely a dry kind of guy. So for me, the qualifications were not easy, I was sliding all over the place as soon as I was pushing a little. A kiss on the wall closed my left wing mirror…I managed 12th.
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The sun comes out. I always smile when I see the sun. We put the semi-slick tyres on, stiffened the car, I was ready to roll.
Race 1, we get to our grid, my heart is pumping.
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First race of the season. I speak to myself once more. 5 seconds to go seem like an eternity! AND OFF WE GO!!!
22 cars piling up in the 1st corner. Heightened senses as I concentrate on my line, my strategy, my mirrors, my gears, my opportunities, my risks… I nick 3 places taking the fast flowing left hander called Cascades with cars centimetres from me, all around me.
I am already 9th… “Come on, settle down Karim!” I hear myself shout as I hit full throttle on the straight reaching over 103mph.
At the 5th corner, I offer a dummy on the left to Ben Low and attack his right… I’m 8th…as I overtake I know I have to brake hard to make the chicane. “Breathe! Relax! Focus! You got this one.” The adrenalyne is pumping like mad. I shout my mantras: “come on!’.
One lap later, we are back to Old Hall, a former GT5 driver challenges me. I give him room and chose the faster racing line rather then defend. He takes the bate and sneaks on my inside…We are driving too fast, is he going to end on the wall? He overtakes me and goes off track! That’s an illegal move, but respect to the guy: he did not slow down and makes it back on the tarmac. I haven’t checked but it looks like he has balls of steel.
David Holloway is still breathing down my neck for the second lap running! He makes his move at Lodge. I give him the space to focus on the longer faster racing line. This corner, Lodge, is the most difficult out of the whole citcuit. For starters it’s a BLIND corner, then to add a bit of spice, the radius decreases and to finish it off, the camber goes from positive to strong negative with no run off. In short, all the laws of physics are converging to throw you off track. His overtaking move is also illegal but he has to choose between slowing down or bracing for impact. This time my strategy has worked, I overtake him straight back with my a higher momentum.
But Wager comes out of nowhere down Cascades! Oh No… There was an easy defence here! I’m back to 10th.
I drove defensively as David is faster then me, still on my tail. I risk it all, take the fast line on the edge, I loose grip and overcook it… 2 tyres on the grass; sweating like a monkey in a sauna I manage it back on the black stuff. David waives me goodbye.
I realise why I went off, no the track is not greasy. I am the one loosing grip coming out of corners…my tyres are overheating; it’s not good news. You need confidence in your equipment, knowledge of where the limit is and courage to push it. It plays on my mind, this added unwelcome variable will not disappear. Coming out of the next corners, I had to catch my car as it was sliding…I am not gonna make up anymore places now.
I finish 12th, where I started: Boomerang.
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screen shot 2017 03 20 at 15 06 52 - Officially a racing driver

Officially a racing driver

I’ve completed my first season in motorsport and I am officially a racing driver!
It sounds scary, it is scary; but mainly for my opponents as I have not yet figured out where the brake pedal is.screen shot 2017 03 20 at 15 06 52 - Officially a racing driver
The British GT Championship is one of the UK’s most spectacular racing series, with powerful supercars battling for supremacy. Racing at speeds in excess of 150mph, they sound as fast as they look! Expect grids of over 30 cars including Aston Martins, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens and Porsches.
The BRDC British F3 Championship meanwhile is a major route on the way to F1 success and a grid full of fresh-faced racers will be out. In addition there’s a packed support programme featuring Ginetta sportscars, that’s us.
Don’t forget if you want to contribute, please give to our charity of choice:
tpa picture 60612 twitter - Officially a racing driver

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