Charlotte Birch and her small team made the long trip through North Wales to the Isle of Anglesey to race in the latest rounds of the Junior Saloon Car championship at the popular circuit, known locally as Trac Mon (Island Circuit).
Charlotte was in determined mood this weekend, previously she had consistently run in the front pack and scored points but she wanted to move forward towards the very front this weekend.
She had a different driver coach this weekend as her usual coach, Jake Hill, didn’t have much experience of the track so in came the experienced Paul Taft. Charlotte spent most of Friday’s test sessions with him before doing the last session on her own.
Charlotte was pleased with how the day had gone with her Anglesey driver coach;
“I had fantastic tuition from Paul Taft this weekend today, it was brilliant. I learnt some stuff that I’ve not done before.“
Her confidence was high for qualifying although it was clear that the grid would be very close with only fractions of a second separating half the field.
As the cars headed on track for the short session, Charlotte tried to find some space on track but soon found herself catching slower cars which then held her up. She tried a brief visit to the pits to try and come out on some clear track but once again found herself catching the slower cars including on what was set to be her best lap.
As a result of this, she found herself down in an unexpected tenth place with her second best lap putting her in eighth for race two. But on the positive side she felt she had the pace to fight back to the front. The fact that she was disappointed with two top ten qualifying slots shows how far she has progressed.
Race one was later on Saturday. She made a great start taking four places on the first lap alone. She then remained in sixth for the next four laps before a successful challenge put her up into fifth. She looked set to take fifth until she managed to make up a further place to take fourth place on the penultimate lap. She actually closed on the final podium place on the final lap and looked for a way past but there was no way through despite an attempt to pressure her rival into a mistake by flashing her lights.
“I was hoping to get him to make a mistake so I flashed my lights but he didn’t go wrong at all. I’m happy with fourth though, it’s my best on track result so far.” Said Charlotte after the race.
She had a third place at Rockingham but it was after two cars that finished ahead of her were disqualified. For race two she would start in eighth, two places further forward so could this be her best chance yet for a podium on track?
Despite the weather forecasts suggesting race two would be dry, the early morning rain persisted and it was a wet track for race two. But Charlotte has always been comfortable in the wet so could this be an advantage?
Once again she made a great start and as the cars shuffled around into the hairpin on the first lap she moved into sixth which then became fourth going up the hill. A shunt behind delayed some rivals which meant she could concentrate on moving forwards. Fourth became third on the back straight on the next lap and then into second the lap after that. The leader by now though was quite a distance ahead. But Charlotte put in a series of very fast laps at that point setting the fastest lap of the race and she gained quickly on the leader. He pushed harder as he saw her gaining in his mirrors retaking the fastest lap but she kept gaining the lap after that and with a few laps to go she was right with him. On the penultimate lap she drew alongside and very briefly her car nosed ahead into a corner but the line belonged to her rival for the next corner and he kept the lead. They crossed the line fractions of a second apart with Charlotte taking second for her best result yet, beating her record set only the day before!
“I’m really happy with that result although part of me almost feels disappointed at the same time as I briefly had the lead and it would have been amazing to win. But it’s been a great weekend at Anglesey. I think I’ve mastered this circuit and I’ve really enjoyed racing here. To get my best ever race results is brilliant. I guess my target will now be for my first win, hopefully it’s not too far away. Thanks to my family for all their help and to my sponsors Blue Lizard Signs, Herock Workwear, Fixings and Powertools centre and Toyotec for their support this season, I wouldn’t be able to do it without you all. I’m really looking forward to Donington now, it was one of my best weekend’s last season so hopefully it will be again.”
Donington is on the 29th September. By Marc Waller