Chloe Hewitt's Rockingham & Brands Hatch catch up

On the banking at Rockingham (Photo by Marc Waller)On June 24th Chewitt Racing visited Rockingham Speedway for the first time. We rocked up Friday night after all the other racers had finished after their day of testing.

We unpacked the lorry, by which time it took us to around 9:00. And Marcus had arrived for our first look at the circuit, our first track walk of the year. As the sun set above our heads we were able to walk the track and get an idea of where the circuit was headed and of course we has a good weigh up of the dreaded first corner.
We hit the track at 9:15 Saturday morning for qualifying, I took it steady and learnt the track as quickly as I felt comfortable with. I got more and more confident with every lap that I did. I managed a lap time of 1 minute 44 seconds, only 6 seconds off of the leaders of the class. Not too shabby!

In the first race I was a little more committed off of the start flying from 8th to 6th putting me on the high side for turn 1. But I stuck my ground and was 6th by the 2nd corner. I was a lot more confident on the first lap than my usual overcautious self. So that’s a step in the right direction. Going onto the second lap I lost a place to Kevin Owen over the start finish straight. A couple of laps later to Neil Ginley also was able to cleanly make the pass, which put us back down to eighth.

Race 2 had a very similar outcome, another great start splitting both Kevin and Neil once again. After keeping them both at bay for a few laps they both worked their way past. However, due to having never seen the circuit before we were very happy with the result and our pace. Only around a second a lap off.

On to Brands Hatch Mini Festival July 8th and 9th. We had the whole team back and ready for the biggest weekend of the year. Again, another weekend that started with Qualifying on Saturday morning. But I still did not disappoint when I put in a stunning final lap to qualify 7th. Very happy considering everyone had tested all day Friday bar myself and one other.

Between qualify and the first race we made some set up changes. However, most of the early afternoon was spent helping out Brad Hutchinson after he rolled his JCW in qualifying at paddock. The whole team got their hands dirty in some way whether it was cooking for the workers, cleaning wheels, cutting out glass, hoovering and pushing out dents, so that he was able to race 1 for the JCW’s under 4 hours after the crash.

Race 1 of the weekend started well gaining confidence and valuable tenths off of each lap, by the end of the race I was heavily pressuring Andy Montgomery for 6th and had punched in the 4th fastest lap time of the race. Unfortunately, even though I was more than half a second a lap faster than Andy, I didn’t have enough time to make the move before the flag. Another solid points score with a 7th place in race 1.

Sunday morning was the pit walk, where all the Mini Challenge cars are pushed into the pitlane so that the public can have a look round. I gave out hundreds of driver posters that I signed on the bonnet of my car. To publicise who we are. We find that they are very popular with the younger generations. I was also asked to sign people’s hats, and other aspects of clothing, along with a remote control Mini.

Time for Race 2. As we were completing the warm up lap Neil Ginley lost control of his car while weaving, ending up in the barrier, narrowly missing the rear of my car. Another car also hit the barrier in avoidance, we then had to start again. Warm up lap 2 … I managed to get another great start and was able to jump Andy on the start letting me loose after the top 5. Unfortunately, I got caught up with a slow-moving car coming out of the pitlane, backing me up into Andy once again. After a few laps I had gotten my cushion back and the chase was on again. I then made a mistake and lost 2 seconds on one lap but steady progress left us comfortably in 6th, once again with the 4th fastest lap time. Only 2 points off of 3rd in the Championship.

Coming round paddock hill (Photo by Marc Waller)  Chloe meets the racing fans (Photo by Marc Waller) Chloe with her family team (Photo by Marc Waller)

 

 

 

Race 3, the reverse grid worker in our favour as we were drawn onto pole. I kept my cool, all be it a bit nervous. I took the cars round for the warm up lap, at a bit of a pace but, making sure that I had warmed my tyres and brakes very well … The lights went out. Another awesome start to lead the way through paddock taking a tight line, making sure no one was going to get the undercut in doing so I compromised my exit a little and by the braking zone for druids Kevin Owen had drawn alongside. We ran side by side until the entrance to Graham Hill Bend where Kevin took the lead. I then lost another place to Rob Austin on the run to Surtees, and a further place on the exit of Surtees as I was on the outside. I then lost one more place to Aaron Reeve as he blasted past across the start line, I was then able to keep everyone else stacked up behind me. Myself, Tim Bill and then Andy Montgomery were running in tandem for a few laps, as I tried to bring in the gap to Kevin Owen. I was able to close the gap but took Tim with me. Once again I was 4th quickest in this race and as I tried to find a way past Kevin and keep Tim at bay, Andy once again hooked onto the back of us. A lock up from me caused Tim to lock up a lot heavier, letting Andy make the move. Allowing me to break from them and really attack Kevin. I was all over the back of Kevin for the last half of the race, trying both the inside and the outside to find a way past. We were battling for 4th place but unfortunately, whichever way I went there was no gap for a Mini to get through. Taking 5th place less than 0.2 second separating us across the line the final time. Taking a 5th in the final race doesn’t quite show what pace we did have. But it’s a step in the right direction. It now means that we are joint 3rd in the championship. However, we are unsure if we have a budget to compete at the next two rounds of the championship, one at Oulton Park Mini Festival, and the other is at Donnington Park.

Another huge thank you to the Sponsors that have helped us get through this weekend, Hylton Gott Volvo, Rockoil, Kleers, Kings Lynn and District Car Club and Peak Performance Reviews. Also a thank you to the team, Marcus Keeble, James Day, Jamie Hain, Freddy Hewitt, Mum and Dad.By Chloe Hewitt

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