This weekend was to be another lesson in motorsport not only for Shanel, but also for the small family team running her as they were beset with technical issues through testing and the weekend, from gearbox selection issues, through to an exhaust that kept working loose and blowing.
Time in car is so important to Shanel at this moment, but with the racing season in full swing, and Shanel’s Easter school holidays coinciding with the first race at Oulton Park, Shanel had been unable to secure any testing since the first race, so arrived at this second event after a four week break out of the car.
The Friday morning practice session was beset with technical issues and so she couldn’t get any meaningful running. Friday afternoon practice turned out to be stormy. Although this did provide Shanel valuable time to get used to wet weather driving for the first time, it wasn’t to help the rest of her weekend as both Saturday and Sunday were blessed with beautiful blue welsh blue sky and sunshine.
Onto Saturday and qualifying she took nineteenth on the grid with a time of 1:14.752 for race one. When race one got underway, a major lesson was learnt by those in the second half of the field as it turned out the rear part of the grid had difficulty in seeing the starting lights. This did not make it easy for Shanel to make a good start. Despite this Shanel managed to finish sixteenth with a best time of 1.14.535 seconds, but during the race the exhaust started working loose again and by the end of the race was blowing significantly, hampering Shanel’s ability to make ground as the car was down on power.
After a good overnight rest, Shanel was primed on Sunday for the second race. Again starting nineteenth on the grid, the positions on the grid had been changed slightly to enable the starting lights to be seen. This allowed the racer in Shanel to shine through and she made a great start overtaking three cars through the first corner and along the straight, but a first lap incident bought out the safety car, and very shortly afterwards the race was red flagged. The restart decision was to reset the race over again, so despite all the hard work, Shanel had to move back to nineteenth on the grid and do it all again.
There was a twenty minute delay before the restart, and with all the hard work to do again, Shanel focused on the restart. With another lightning start and targeted braking into the first corner meant Shanel was in fourteenth by the end of lap one and was giving Mathew Greenwood in Car 52 a good run for his money, whilst holding off Car 64 George Smith behind. However, the technical gremlin’s which had dogged Shanel’s weekend would rear their ugly head again, and the exhaust started to blow louder and louder lap by lap. Shanel started to lose power and so also straight line speed meaning she was a becoming a sitting duck along the long straights of Pembrey. Despite this, Shanel still managed to achieve another improvement in her finishes by finishing fifteenth this time and a best lap of 1 minute 14.647 seconds. Overall it had been a positive improvement on her finishes at Oulton Park of nineteenth and seventeenth.
With the third event of the year at Snetterton coming up only the weekend after next, Shanel is hoping the racing blood will stay fresh and focused ready for the next round. By Marc Waller