The Abingdon sprint consists of runs over two courses with final results worked out by adding the two times together. The first course is around the perimeter track of the airfield and features some very fast bends, whilst the second course uses the main runway with some very tight corners that favour the smaller cars. I knew from previous experience that the Mustang had to do well on the first course for a good result.
As always at Abingdon I was in a very large class of 18 cars include a lot of interesting old triumph GT6s and an Alfa Romeo, as well as the regular group of more competitive modern cars headed by Bill McKenna’s Porsche 911 GT3, a couple of supercharged mini JCWs, Jim Giddings TVR engined Triumph TR8, Gordon Peters impressive Nisan 350Z, Simon Taylors rapidly improving turbocharged Renault Alpine GTA and the turbocharged MX5 that had just beaten me at Rushmoor earlier in the season.
Unlike the 2015 event, I had the SLP exhaust fitted which gave me considerably more power. I also had the HiSpec brakes, which gave me much more confidence than ever before, enabling me to carry much more speed into the 90 degree left hander at the end of the main straight. I knew that on my final run i had really got the hang of the track. If I could get a clean lap together I could move up to 3rd place. I absolutely flew through the fast curve into the chicane and then slid around the cones as I pushed the power hard back onto the straight. My heart was pounding as I knew I had really improved my time through the difficult section and all I had to do was get the car home cleanly – however, as I pulled out of the chicane with the supercharger screaming I changed to third – and the usual gearbox problem reappeared so I juggled with 5th, 2nd and finally third before I reached the next corner. It was a disaster and I was very upset knowing what a great result I could have achieved.
Despite the problems I was in 5th place on the first course behind Simon Taylor, just ahead of Jim Giddings. I thought I made an even worse mess of the second course, struggling for gear changes whilst trying to haul the Mustang round corners so tight they would have been a problem on full lock even at parking speeds! I was so disappointed with my performance I didn’t even check the times believing that I had a completely hopeless the event and went home feeling rather despondent. However, when I eventually received the results by email I was amazed to find that as with every year Jim got faster on the second course, while Simon got slower, so that I remained in 5th place with my aggregate time just 0.01 seconds faster than Simon! This was far better than I had imagined possible as I scored a lot of points because of the very large class, beating 13 other competitors.