With the damaged engine still in pieces, we put in a last second entry for the second round of the Heritage Parts Centre Formula Vee Championship at Brands Hatch in beautiful sunny conditions.
James Cater would treat the weekend as a test to see how the rebuilt engine in the Primrose Hospice sponsored RTV Sheane would perform, hoping to stay out of trouble and pick up whatever championship points were on offer.
Qualifying was marred by two red flags which cut the session short as James was still running the engine in, leaving him way down in 24th and 23rd place for the races, and having to fix an oil leak to get out for the first race.
A great start thrust James into a seven car battle for 14th place with all the cars swapping positions.
Unfortunately one car dropped it’s oil going into the top gear Paddock Hill bend, making James and Rory Melia ahead of him spin. With the rest of the field narrowly avoiding them, James spent several precious seconds trying to restart his stalled car as he rolled down the other side of Paddock Hill.
With lots of oil now down on the track from other leaking cars, James was still able to chase down and pass Vaughn Jones with two laps to go to take 4th in Class B and 19th place overall, but finding the car running rough and down on power.
Graham Gant took the win in his WEV FV01, by 0.2 seconds from Daniel Hands and Craig Pollard picked up third overall. James Harridge won Class B after starting dead last (5th overall) from Andrew Cooper and Jamie Harrison.
Toying with the idea to pack up and go home, Glenn Hay found some valve clearances had slipped – an easy fix that had the engine sounding sweet again before we focused on the second race the next morning.
With the sun burning down yet again, James made up a few places on the start and was immediately in a 9 car scrap for 14th place.
Four laps in, James had a great run down the pit straight and was easing around the outside of Neil Aldridge around Paddock Hill bend when Vaughn Jones spun on the inside of the corner.
Neil moved right to avoid the spinner, still leaving James room on the outside of the track, but then Vaughn clipped Neil, sending him hard into the side of the RTV Sheane on the high speed exit.
This impact bent a steering arm joint and put a hole through the side panel, and though James tried to continue the damage was too severe and he had to retire from the race.
The restart saw another red flag after three laps, with Ben Miloudi winning fromCraig Pollard with Daniel Hands picking up another podium. Class B went to James Harridge who only made it from last up to 6th place this time, with Andrew Cooper 2nd again and Rory Melia getting an excellent 3rd.
It was a frustrating weekend for RTV, as all we were trying to do was stay out of any trouble to assess the engine, but when the racing is as close as in Formula Vee these incidents will always happen – we just got unlucky this time.
Round 3 of the championship is at Croft in North Yorkshire on May 26th & 27th where we will need to get more from the engine to be competitive.
Before then, James will be focusing his attention on the skies, as he will do his first ever tandem parachute jump raising funds for Primrose Hospice on 5th May. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped to raise £527 so far, and please donate what you can at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jamescater18