She went into the weekend lying second in the championship standings just behind Tom Roche and so her main target would be to try and finish ahead of Roche in the points.
Friday testing was taken up working on the best setup for the track. This proved to be successful as she was fastest in Saturday’s free practice session held on a damp track. She felt confident that pole would be hers in qualifying. She only managed one flying lap initially before the session was red flagged due to an oil leak from another car causing several others to go off. After this was cleared, Abbie took to the track once more but after only another couple of laps before her gearbox failed and she lost third gear. This forced Abbie out of the session but fortunately the flying lap she had managed before the failure left her in fourth place on the grid. Not the pole she had hoped for but still a good spot to fight for a victory from. The car was put back in her team awning and the gearbox changed ready for the first race on Sunday morning.
As the lights went out for race one, Abbie’s start was hindered by some cement dust covering oil from an earlier race and she dropped two positions to sixth as the pack headed for the Deene hairpin. But at the hairpin, Abbie made a daring move around the outside to take three cars and emerge the other side in third place!
Unfortunately Abbie soon found she had gearbox trouble once again with it jumping out of third gear. Abbie persevered, holding the gear stick in third and steering with one hand through some tricky corners!
From the outside you’d never know as she battled with Matt Davies for second. Tom Roche slipped through when Abbie was momentarily slowed by davies knocking her down to fourth. She was soon back up to third however when Davies locked up going into Deene hairpin.
Abbie raced with Roche for several laps before finding a way past at Gracelands, once again around the outside! Other than the third gear issue, Abbie was finding that the car felt great as she closed on leader Anthony Neild.
She quickly caught him and after a few laps battling she surged past after getting the cutback at Yentwood. With a faster car under her Abbie then pulled away to take an excellent victory. There was a bit of further drama on the final lap when a pipe came loose in the engine bay causing oil to leak out making some smoke but it didn’t stop her win. Abbie was pleased;
“Another win and another fastest lap. Brilliant!”
To make things even better for her championship situation, nearest rival Roche had dropped to fifth meaning Abbie was able to retake the championship lead that she had originally held after the Anglesey round.
The gearbox was changed again ready for race two, hoping it would be third time lucky for the reliability of that component!
Abbie got a much better start and lead away around the banking but with Nield only fractionally behind. Going into the Deene hairpin for the second time she locked up and that small mistake allowed Nield through into the lead. Abbie wasn’t going to accept second place even though she was still ahead of her rivals and she spent the next couple of laps trying to find a way back past Nield. He was the fastest he had been all weekend and so was proving to be a very tough opponent. She eventually passed him through the Chapman curve.
Even once past Nield, he hung on her tail but despite the two battling, they were considerably faster than the rest of the field with the two of them pulling nine seconds clear of third placed Davies. Abbie kept her cool under pressure for the rest of the race and crossed the line just in front of Nield to make it two wins out of two for the weekend. She again also took fastest lap, two hundredths of a second faster than Nield. Her rival Roche again finished further back this time in sixth
It had been a great weekend for Abbie with two wins and two fastest laps and she now has a 17 point lead in the championship from Roche with Davies 37 points behind in third. Abbie was very happy;
“It’s been a Great weekend, brilliant racing from everyone, especially Anthony Nield. It’s how racing should be. I’m back leading the championship again, fingers crossed for more of the same at Donington in 4 weeks. Thanks to my team and my sponsors for all their help.”
This result puts her in a great position going into the championship finale at Donington in October. Donington is a track that Abbie has always gone well at so there is reason to be positive but as her mechanical issues showed this weekend, anything can still happen and with 200 points available from the Finale weekend, it’s all to play for in the championship battle. By Marc Waller