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Gail Hill's season round-up

Oct 26, 2012

Hanging onto my title of Jaguar Saloon champion was always going to be tough having missed three rounds and registering one DNF in the first eight rounds of the season, but I was encouraged after my first saloon win at Castle Coombe in August.

At the end of the month we went to Mallory Park for another double-header and whilst we were mixing with some much quicker machinery, namely the XJ-Ss, I was fairly happy to qualify 9th overall and 2nd saloon, just behind Kevin Doyle’s coupe but ahead of Pearce who had been leading the saloon series since the first round. Frustratingly, when an errant V12 engine dumped all its oil during the green flag lap, the race got canned until first thing the next day.

I got off to a flyer and quickly made up two places, importantly one of which was on Doyle. Not that you ever wish for bad luck to strike a rival, but when he shot off into the barrier on the next lap it relived a huge amount of pressure and so I spent the rest of the race holding off the very much improved Rodney Frost in his XJ-S with a gaggle of saloons including Bye, Lewis, Connew and Pearce just behind. I finished 7th overall but 1st saloon and with fastest lap; Pearce could only manage 3rd saloon. What’s more the weather looked like it would stay dry for the second race later in the day.

This too got delayed after the same XJ-S dumped oil in the pit lane as we went onto the track from assembly! When we finally got going my start was reasonably good but I could not quite get past Webster’s XJ-S which baulked me going into Shaws hairpin. This allowed Bye to go round the outside and so I began to chase him down. A leaking head gasket was spurting fluid over my screen whenever I made a move on his nearside so I changed tactics and tried a move going into Gerrards on his offside. Unfortunately it didn’t come off and as he turned in I collected him in his drivers door; we both spun off into the outfield allowing several saloons through, including Doyle (who started from the back) and Connew.

I shot off to Coventry after being recovered to the pit lane to get the hub and brakes replaced and was back three hours later ready to go for the last race of the day. It was well worth the effort as I discovered I was 5th on the grid and 2nd saloon behind Lewis. I felt my car was competitive and kept him under pressure right from the start but then missed my brake point at the chicane and had to go through the gravel, dropping down the order. He got away and Pearce got past too as did several others.

The Webster XJ-S was a moving chicane that I could not better and so after regaining several places I had to settle for 9th overall and 3rd saloon. With Pearce finishing 2nd he had done enough to take my saloon crown with two races still to go. I could still finish as runner-up if I got good results and beat Doyle so that became the aim for the final races.

A strong drive the next day and a bit of luck too, when Doyle once again suffered mechanical woes and a DNF, saw me recover up to 4th overall and 2nd saloon, once again behind Lewis moved me up to 2nd in the saloon table by a few points.

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