With no space on the grid for super-sub Josh this week, the top step of the podium was, for once, up for grabs by a mere mortal. A golden opportunity for any driver that could withstand the pressure.
Al planned to retire at tea-break time so wasn’t a threat, Stephen’s GT40 still wasn’t a P68 so that was him done too, but for the other four the race was wide open.
The expectation management started immediately, Spencer talking himself down from the moment he entered the building, but then immediately giving the game away by running an 8.58 lap in practice. Ed was playing down his chances too, although with good reason, his car’s motor a wheezing donkey destined for the knacker’s yard at half distance, when he swapped it for a different one.
David was clutching at straws, his car seemingly fine but his warm-up laps frustratingly slow, and Neil was being Neil, doing almost no practice at all, a decision that would cost him dearly.
David, Ed and Spencer comprised Group 1, their first heat giving a taste of the close racing to come. Spencer cracked early with two crashes, yet still only lost a quarter of a lap to David and Ed, who dead-heated.
Group 2 was all about Neil. He knows he needs at least fifty laps to get going, so his lack of warm-up was an entirely avoidable kiss of death, a slow start in heats one and two losing him any chance of overall victory.
At half-distance David was a lap ahead of Ed and Spencer, with Neil in fourth. Ed, though, was out of it, his new motor not much better than the donkey it replaced. Neil and Spencer, however, were starting to fly, clawing their way back to David, but had they left it too late? Yes, was the answer to that one, their golden opportunities thrown away early, to pressure in Spencer’s case, and a cup of tea and a chat in Neil’s. Will their chance come around again? Who knows, but for now, all they could do was rue what might have been.