23/02/23: Sideways GT3 – “F*ck it. I can’t make it any slower”

“Fu*k it. I can’t make it any slower.”

The wait is finally over. Sideways GT3 cars have at last raced in anger. A supercar shoot-out between Lamborghini, BMW, McLaren, Bentley, Aston Martin and Ford, with other exotic marques still to appear. Mouth-watering. Perhaps…

If you were expecting GT3 to be fast you’d have been bitterly disappointed, because despite looking fast, the almost-standard Sideways GT3 cars are, on Molesey’s track, anything but. Nonetheless, rather like the NSR Classic class that it replaced, GT3 may well be slow – in fact, it’s even slower than NSR Classics – but if this week’s race is anything to go by, it’ll be another very close and competitive class, proving once and for all that fast doesn’t always mean better racing. It didn’t all go smoothly, though.

As several drivers discovered while building their cars, Sideways GT3 axles are sometimes, frankly, rubbish, the drivers struggling to get gears and wheels either on or off them. Alex was particularly badly affected, his new car showing great pace during his early practice laps, but then steadily slowing as its oval rear axle progressively wrecked the car’s bearings until he was lapping several tenths slower than he had been at the beginning of the evening. Top tip: check your Sideways axles for roundness and change them if needed. There’s a very good reason why the club’s rules allow you to use any brand’s axles. 0.01mm might not sound like much, but as Alex’s woes amply illustrated, it’s the little things that can add up to a significant difference in lap time. Failing that, ask Terry to teach you the special wink and gender-fluid smile he uses to successfully scrounge a fast car from Team Bryant or Edwards Engineering, something he achieves with remarkable consistency.

Alex wasn’t the only driver struggling with his car during practice. Simon’s motor started life as an utter slug, much to the amusement of everyone listening to him whinge as his car crawled along the straights. Luckily, while nobody was looking, he must have sprinkled fairy dust on it, because come the race he was up there with the fastest cars. David too was struggling with a slow car, but was clueless as to the reason. Eventually, exasperated and with just a few minutes of practice left, he resorted to the “Fu*k it. I can’t make it any slower” tuning method and adjusted almost everything that could be adjusted in one mad rush. Either through luck or judgement it gained him four tenths per lap. Result, although exactly what the magic adjustment was, neither he nor anyone else knows.

So to heat 1. Julian immediately disappeared into the distance, recording the night’s fastest lap and heat and making everyone else look, at best, average. The remainder of his race was an easy canter and he finished a whopping thirty seconds ahead of Simon. Still, it’s early days for GT3, so all’s not yet lost for the also-rans.

With Team Bryant absent, Terry had blagged Edwards Engineering’s spare car and put it to good use, enjoying a great scrap with David for the final podium spot, missing out by just 1.85 seconds.

The midfield was particularly close, Neil, Graham, Peter, the Tomster and Alex’s best laps covered by just over a tenth. Alex struggled for the first two heats with his own oval-axled car before giving up and borrowing Simon’s Lamborghini for the remainder of the race, while the Tomster looked to have found some form at last, winning two of his heats.

All in all it was a good start for the new Sideways GT3 class. The cars aren’t stunningly quick, but that’s no bad thing. Teething problems aside, they produced some excellent racing in the midfield, which bodes well for the future. All everyone needs to do now is work out how to beat Julian.

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