- Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The end of an era...

Midway through July I went to the Channel Islands with a group of good friends from my class to compete in the British Hillclimb rounds that take in Bouley Bay & Val de Terres. 
Every summer there's a whole crowd that make the annual pilgrimage and from the photos & stories I've heard it sounds fantastic so I've long wanted to cross it off my list. As there are three ferries involved it can be quite expensive if you're towing, but this year has been all about adventure so we committed at Xmas and booked it early.
Starting off on Jersey we had a very relaxing few days taking in the beaches, eating too many cream teas and reccying the hill, which is a public road for most of the year. Life there seems to take on a different pace and by the time we reached competition day we were all chomping at the bit to get going. Set at the foot of a beautiful bay looking out to sea, you climb up through lush green foliage, dazzled at times as you break through into the sun to climb up a series of switchbacks. It's a stunning view from the top and certainly the most beautiful hillclimb I've ever done.


After all nearly crashing at the first corner despite being warned about it all week, we had a great time in blazing sunshine and I even managed a class win. So far so good, and onto Guernsey! Bouley Bay video

It was actually on this holiday that I first spoke to one of the teams that run Formula Renaults, starting with MGR Motorsport who are only down the road from my work. Weighing up whether it was possible to sell up and buy one in time for the CFM in 2015, it seemed like a big step and I was starting to think that perhaps it would be best to do another season with the Westy and save up rather than throwing myself in at the deep end and seeing what happened next!

However, I was about to discover that fate sometimes likes to play around with your carefully laid plans... 

In Guernsey we had the most torrential rain I think I've ever experienced, hail stones and so much wet stuff that the entire harbour was flooded and it looked for a while as though everything was going to be washed into the sea - in short, pandemonium. Soon afterwards I set off for my second practice run and had a bit of an incident not long after the start line as the rear end tried to overtake the front end. It wasn't too bad, but the car was out of action and would need repairing. Personally I think it knew what I was up to and did it on purpose.

Being the first time I've crashed & damaged a car in competition it really knocked the wind out of my sails, and once I was back home a few days later surveying the parts I needed to get it running, it got me thinking. 

I was coming towards the end of my season and by the time it would be fixed I'd only have two events left. Knowing that I really didn't want to bend it again if I was saving  and planning to sell it in the near future, it dawned on me that I wouldn't really be driving it anywhere near as hard as I should come next season. And if I'm not pushing 100% then there's not really much point in competing, so maybe I should just put it up for sale and see what happens?

So one Friday afternoon I put an advert on the Westfield owners club, and two hours later I'd accepted an offer. Ooh...
I was still waiting for a steering rack, which in true Westfield style took an agonising amount of time to arrive, and only found its way to me after I persuaded them to take one off a car in the showroom. 

Finally the day came to say goodbye, and I felt sad to see it go, as though a part of me went with it.  I watched it pull out of my drive, so strange to see it attached to the back of someone else's car, and stood there in the street as it rattled off out of sight waving it goodbye.

So this is it then, no turning back - I'm fully committed now.

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