Around 5pm the motorway gantry lights switched to indicate a 20mph speed limit as aquaplaning vehicles crashed off all over the place. The circuit flooded at the bottom end as the drains became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of water falling on it. In a typically English way the rain stopped just as suddenly as it had started and by the time we were due to sally forth, 45 Solo stylee, the circuit was merely wet.
Despite the weather warning issued earlier in the day and the obvious volume of H20 descending from the sky, the grid for the 45 Solo kept growing ever larger, even at the time when it looked as though we would all get swept away and washed out to sea on a swollen River Medway. I asked a passing Yorkshireman what he made of it. “There’s nowt as queer as folk” he replied, “An' ah'll tell thi that fer nowt.” which was a relief as I had no intention of paying him. I wonder who he was.
The entry was the usual smorgasbord of ingredients, from extra virgin to free range organic racer. It was as always an Angel Delight to meet you all.
Matt Oliver set the pace in the practice stroke qualifying session. For legal reasons I must state that there is no evidence that practice did stroke qualifying, but if it did, I’m sure it was consensual. I’m being extra careful today in case I suddenly and totally accidentally mumble a nursery rhyme and the Mirror get to find out. Matt was Head & Shoulders above everyone else and his totally dandruff free best lap was a full 1.43 seconds quicker than the brand used by Robert Gunning. Des Foley came within half a second of Robert’s time and earned the right to start from P3 where he had Daniel Klos for second row company. Ray Clifford gained a bit of an aerodynamic advantage from his ‘crosser’ helmet as he set the fifth fastest time. In order to stop these reports becoming as long as the script of Eastenders, I restrict my reportage to the top five. This will of course be terribly disappointing for Pawel Kozlowski as he missed inclusion by no more than a wasp’s onesie. At the bottom of the order Hocine Temmar could be seen driving in braille after his visor totally steamed up.
Bang on time the lights turned to green and it was ‘go, go, go’. Normally it’s ‘Go, Go, Go!’ but we were fresh out of upper case. From the start Matt Oliver was the dominant force and within a handful of laps he had pulled fully four seconds clear of the next man. The next man turned out to be Ray Clifford who was currently a second ahead of Robert Gunning by a margin of around a second. Neil Whitehall was next to flash past race control in his attempt to stay ahead of Andy Tarrant. I asked a passing Chinaman what he thought was needed to be in fifth at this point. “Tarrant” he replied confidentally, “Tarrant always come in ‘Andy”. In this paragraph I must disappoint Antoine Ninot for I don’t intend to include sixth place at this time.
Slowly but surely Matt Oliver increased his profit margin over Ray Clifford while Robert Gunning clung to third with the tenacity of an over ambitious piece of Velcro. No other place changes occurred in the top six so to fulfil my contractual obligations to have a sixth paragraph I shall tell you that Sam Wilford was now just a couple of seconds behind Antoine Ninot and several seconds clear of Pawel Kozlowski in eighth. The current top ten anchors traded under the names of Matt Robertson and Daniel Klos. James Wollard pitted for a kart change after suffering a severe bout of deflation, like Japan, except that in James’ case it was only in the front tyre, not the whole economy, but in all other respects, the similarities were uncanny. He re-joined in last place, a broken man.
My half time report will feature those drivers fiercely fighting for position in the minefield that is the midfield. Take Neil Appadu for example; currently in tenth and just a couple of tenths behind Des Foley but only a flea’s flatulence ahead of Matt Robertson, Toby Smales and Daniel Klos. This quintet made up the lower half of the drivers still on the same lap as the race leader. Sean Tueten led the best of the rest and the best of those was currently Terry Botting who was a mere tenth off Sean’s rear bumper. Ash Miller is new to the Buckmore, though not to racing, and would have been much higher up the order had he not suffered a disease in qualifying. Our medic has diagnosed it as Ash dieback (Chalara fraxinea). This is usually fatal but it seems that with youth on his side Mr Miller was now in rude health once more.
With the clock now confirming that 30 minutes had elapsed, we applied some ointment only to remember at the last moment that that was for a prolapse. Still, it can’t do any harm. At least we didn’t use a pessary. At this time it was clear that Ray Clifford had got the measure of the conditions and he was now reeling in Matt Oliver with every passing lap. The gap currently stood at just three seconds. By contrast Robert Gunning had consolidated his third place by increasing his lead over Andy Tarrant to an impressive seventeen seconds. Andy Tarrant and Sam Wilford had now both slipped ahead of Antoine Ninot the submarine chap, or is that Nemo? I always get those two mixed up.
Hocine Temmar clocked up his third warning for contact and under the totting up procedure was issued with a summons to appear before the pit lane magistrates. I’m not his defence counsel but as soon as I looked at him I realised why he kept bumping into people. His visor was sealed up tight so that inside a micro-climate existed. It was so humid in there that I’m surprised it wasn’t raining all over his face. He was so steamed up that the only way he knew when to steer, was when he hit something. He had the vision of a bat whose sonar had gone on the blink. It was dark. We showed him a black flag. It was never going to work was it? Still, it gave us something to do until it was time to announce the start of the last lap.
The last lap proved to be the most dramatic of them all. As you know Matt Oliver set the pace in practice and then took off like HM Customs were after him when the lights went green. He had now led the race for 37 laps, or if you prefer, 44 English minutes. On his last circumnavigation of the iconic asphalt he came upon a gaggle of backmarkers. One of the gaggle, presumably for a giggle, decided to try and race him for position. It ended, as it always does, in tears and Matt was sent in the general direction of the rubbery shrubbery. Ray Clifford spotted this horse, decided that it looked more gift than Trojan, and shot past to take the lead. Seconds later that lead was confirmed as a race win. He was as over the moon as the Space Station at the same moment that all Matt’s insides fell out. He was totally gutted. Almost unnoticed Robert Gunning came over the line to secure third. Sam Wilford missed the podium by twenty two seconds and the top five was completed a few seconds later when Andy Tarrant came over the line.
Sorry if I haven’t covered your own epic battle but I all the while I was writing this report I was being attacked by a lack of time. It seems that it marches on and waits for no man and all that. Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the evening and that you will want to repeat the experience again very soon. Until we next meet, I bid you a fond farewell.
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