Although conditions were different this time with warm dry weather and a dry track, there didn’t seem to be any reason why it couldn’t be a good weekend.
Qualifying saw Katie in sixth on the third row but just over eight tenths of a second off pole. Her fight through the field at Rockingham last time out showed that a great result was easily possible from there.
Race one was on Saturday and Katie got away well. Behind her there was a crash on the first corner. Katie was well ahead of this but disaster struck when she found herself run off the road. She recovered but was now at the tail of the field. But as the pack came round to the start finish straight the safety car had been scrambled. Some of the cars nearer the front were taken by surprise and it the confusion some collided. Katie saw the mess and was keeping everything crossed that this may mean a red flag and a restart. Her wish was soon granted as out came the red flags and she could restart the race as though that first start never happened.
This time things went much better as she got a great start and moved up to fourth on the first lap. Things looked strong for the next three laps but something seemed to be not quite right with the car not having the performance that Katie was expected. She started coming under pressure from the drivers behind and on the fast sections of the circuit she didn’t have the performance to defend. This dropped her down to seventh but a determined fightback saw her climb again to fifth at the flag. It was a strong drive but not what she had hoped for. What was wrong.
A comment Katie made about feeling Wheelspin provided the answer as in the conditions on the track during the race, wheelspin was unlikely. This means it was something else spinning that shouldn’t. That could only be one thing, the clutch was slipping.
The team set about changing it and soon had a new clutch installed. The next race wasn’t until later on Sunday and now there was nothing to do expect wait. As the race drew nearer on Sunday it was decided to test run the car slowly in the paddock to make sure all was well. Usually a routine task, this time became something different as the new clutch began leaking fluid! There was only a small amount of time before the race but the Merlin team descended on the car to change the faulty replacement clutch with another new one!
Incredibly after only twenty minutes the job was done and Katie could head to the assembly area to await the race. There would be no time to test the car fully as it would be straight into race two.
As the lights went out she again made an amazing start to run a strong fourth. She was all set to challenge for a podium slot when suddenly disaster struck! The car went into a spin on one of the fastest parts of the circuit. The car had been tail happy all race but now it was something worse. Katie quickly recovered without actually losing that many places but then found herself spun once again by a rival later around the lap.
She was now at the tail of the field with a car that wasn’t driving right. Despite this she pushed on passing several rivals before the flag but realistically there wasn’t much progress she could make having dropped so far down and with an ailing car.
Post race it became clear that the issue which caused her to spin was a failing damper.
Katie was disappointed to not have the weekend she hoped for;
“I’m so disappointed we didn’t get the race two we wanted, a podium was in sight but I struggled with rear grip all weekend and unfortunately it was church 1 and Katie 0! We had no luck with mechanical issues with the clutch failures and the faulty damper which must’ve been on the way out from the start of the weekend????. Thanks to my team, Merlin International for all their hard work, Plus all my sponsors including Snap-on Tools UK & Ireland, Walero Motorsport, Reis Motorsport Insurance, Richardson Transport and Swift” ”We’ll be back at Silverstone in a few weeks for another go.” By Marc Waller