A Water Fight for Padmore at Brands!

23rd September 2008

Nick was all set for Brands GP circuit in the Norma, being a circuit he has raced many a time he was really looking forward to it. When speaking to Nick about the up and coming round at Brands he said “I’m already there, this is how I get geared up for it, the race isn’t until Saturday but I’m thinking about each corner on Thursday, which line to take, if the weather’s bad, which line is best to take then….a lot of it for me is mentally preparing, especially if I know the track because then it comes more naturally on the day”.

As the weekend started, the weather was hard to judge but it looked like Padmore and Rihon were in for some wet weather. A grey morning at Brands didn’t put a downer on Nick’s mood for the weekend.

When asking Nick about the conditions on the day, he said “No, it doesn’t really bother me about what the weather’s like, obviously dry is good, but the wet is more challenging, takes longer to get into a rhythm, that kinda thing! The wet can throw all sorts of surprises into the race as well, and it really sorts the men from the boys!”

So, as qualifying approached, Nick and Jean-Lou were ready to get some mileage down in the Norma. Nick was first to bank a few laps in, as usual with Nick he looked comfortable straight away and after getting familiar with the conditions and the car Nick came in and swapped with Jean-Lou so he could familiarise himself with the conditions around the GP circuit. Jean-Lou looked a little nervous out on track at first, but quickly started shaving seconds off lap by lap, Nick said “Its time in the seat that’s all, I know he is quick round here, you can see by the board that he’s getting quicker and quicker every lap…!”.

It was now time for Padmore to go out for the final time and see where he could place the Norma against everything else, with the cloud getting darker, and temperature of the track getting colder, now was the time for Nick to go out and make the time worth it.

As Nick went out for his final stint, the rain did start to fall a little, but not enough to threaten Nick’s time. Nick stuck a blistering time in which put him on pole, however, after Nick coming in for new rubber, one of the Ligier’s managed to knock Nick from the top spot demoting him to second. While Nick was still battling away with the Norma on the GP circuit, another Norma managed to pinch second just before the end of the session which meant Nick and Jean-Lou would now start the race in 3rd. After qualifying Nick commented on the session, he said “Yeah, it was tough to get into a rhythm really, loads grip in some places, no grip in others, it was a lot to take on in that little session, I hope it stays consistent through out the race, I reckon we could then really put the hammer down, and I’m happy with 3rd….I’m hoping we’ll grab a good result today!”

So, like every other race weekend with Padmore and Rihon were off to the Race Truck to the pre race briefing to discuss the strategy with the boys at Race Team Solutions. Whilst the briefing was going, the weather was taking a turn for the worse, and rain started to fall over Brands quite hard. After the briefing, the decision was made that Jean-Lou would take the first stint of the race and start 3rd on the grid.

This meant Jean-Lou would start the race in very bad weather conditions, full wets were required for all the grid, when speaking to Nick about the start he said, “This is good for Jean-Lou, obviously a bit nerv-racking for him but….you just gotta get out there and get involved! There’s no other way to deal with it!”

As the dark sky and heavy rain set on Brands, the race was go, Jean-Lou held his nerve down into Paddock Hill Bend the car looked to be moving around a lot in the slippery conditions, Jean-Lou was then out braked into Druids and dropped to fifth, again the car looked very twitchy down Graham Hill Bend which forced Jean-Lou to back off going onto Cooper Straight, now running 7th Jean- Lou had to really put the hammer down.

After about 25 laps, Jean-Lou seemed to be quite comfortable and in a good rhythm running 8th with the conditions getting even worse. Then, after roughly 1hour 40 minutes, Jean-Lou came in to swap with Nick. After jumping out the car I grabbed a quick word with Jean-Lou, he said With the dry setup and wet tyres made the car very nervous, I just wanted to keep the car on the track and bring it home".

Nick jumped straight in the car and he was off down the pit lane bouncing off the pit-limiter, as Nick re-joined the pack in 10th so saying he has work to do would be an understatement. The rain had no signs of backing off, but this sort of thing doesn’t put Nick off when he’s racing.

After about 20 laps Nick had regained a couple of positions and was now running in 8th, however, 7th was 2 laps ahead of him down the road, so Nick would have to pull something pretty special out the bag to catch 7th.

Nick looked comfortable in the car, being consistent as always with his lap times, he then put in the fastest lap of the race which was a blistering 1.33.990 seconds!

The final 45 minutes of this UK VdeV round was possibly one of the most stunning drives I have seen Nick perform in his career, he managed to pull 3 laps out of 7th place and pass him going into Druids. But it didn’t stop there, Nick was now catching 6th, the tension in the pit lane was enormous watching teams in 5th, 6th and 7th changing there pit board times. The only one that was getting faster each time was Padmore. This resulted in him catching and passing 6th and finishing 5th, 18 seconds behind 4th!.

Another few laps of this race and Padmore could have taken 4th and ended up being on the same lap as the leaders again after a 3 hour race. After climbing out of the car I managed to get a few words from Nick about the race and his stint, he said “Yep, I’m pleased with that, got in the car, few laps in, bang I was on it, got really comfortable really early on……Shame it wasn’t a bit longer really, cause I was always catching the man in front, but I’m happy with the result, Jean-Lou improved his personal best again and anyone who could keep on the road in these conditions shows that they’ve got talent. Also, really happy that Mum and Dad are here cause it’s their wedding anniversary and they’ve come down here, stood in the rain just to watch me race, which is mega!”.

A good result for Nick and Jean-Lou at Brands, stay with the website for the next Euro V de V report and Funcup Beetle at Pembrey!

Report by Elliot Weir

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