The Donington Historic Festival finally got my season off the blocks with four races, two each in Julian Thomas' fabulous lightweight low drag E type Jaguar and Sean and Laura Danaher's stunning 1938 Maserati 6CM Grand Prix car.First up was qualifying in the Maserati. Initially on pole, Michael Gans in his very rapid ERA pipped me with a few minutes to go. Getting a good clear lap to the flag I reversed that and took pole by less than a tenth. This was going to be a battle that raged all week end. Then in was into the E Type. Julian took the first part of qualifying to go top of the pile! Things were looking good! I jumped in but my session was plagued with yellow flags and cars falling off. Despite everyone going quicker I was unable to get a clear lap and we ended up P3. Still a good place to start. Next up was the first race in the Maserati. It was raining hard and the track was soaked, with lots of oil from all these classic and historic cars. My start was average and the ERA surged into the lead. I was really struggling with grip so just concentrated on bringing the car home safe in second to be ready for the second and more important race the next day. Sunday came and Julian was on the grid for the GT and Sports Car Cup race. A great start saw him move up to second and stay there comfortably. Half way through his stint a small problem developed with the car so he had to park up. Very disappointing but more importantly it was easy to solve so we would be back on the grid for Monday's Jaguar Classic Challenge. Back into the Maserati I was P2 on the grid due to finishing position in race one. It was dry and I made one of my best starts and bolted into the lead. The two cars behind were fighting so I made my escape as best I could. However, I was soon lapping cars and as I was the first, my progress was hampered a little. The hard driven ERA behind had broken free and was catching me. Coming out of the chicane I was held up by another car and the ERA pounced, outdragging me down the straight to Redgate. However, I stuck to his tail and two laps later dived down his inside into McLeans. Pushing hard I held him off in an epic battle to win by .699 sec and claim the much coveted Nuvolari Trophy. This was the first time a car other than an ERA had won this Trophy so smiles all round and a huge thank you to Sean and Laura for putting me in the car and Sam Jordan for all his work. Monday morning was dry but the clouds were gathering. However, qualifying was dry and Julian duly put the car on pole and stayed there for his session. My turn came and I knew what time I was aiming at. Pushing hard with lots of traffic I fell to second. Looking for a clear lap was crucial and suddenly I got one. The result was pole by 4 tenths and a happy team. The weather forecast showed rain covering our race time. I am always happy racing in the rain but having never driven the E Type in the wet gave me some pause especially as I was first up!! By Monday the track was slick with dropped oil but the same for everybody. I was up against many extremely fast and experienced E Type racers and this was my first. The lights went out and my start rocketed me into the lead. I got my head down and pushed as hard as I dared. Again as we caught up with slower cars I was first in line. Baulked by one car I had to back off and I was pounced upon!! Still I held a close second to the pit stop and Julian jumped in. He drove an absolute blinder and running in second things were looking good. Then the rain came down and suddenly the pendulum swung our way. The car was handling beautifully and two laps from the end Julian swept into a lead he held to the flag to complete a first pole and win for his car!! Again, a huge thank you to Julian and the whole Denis Welch Motorsport team. Next stop is the Silverstone International meeting in the E Type later this month.
Melindi runs Gold Track - winner of the ‘Track Day Organiser of the Year’ award 2016 is one of the UK's longest established and most respected professional track day event organisers. You can book training session and track days with Calum at www.goldtrack.co.uk/racing/track-days