Back on track at last and Team Merlot and the Eastern Region realise what they have been missing since the Merlot’s last track event at Mallory Park last year.
Jon, Robbie and Martin, the guys who keep it all going, were joined by MX-5 Owners Club Eastern Region members Chris Gage and Chris Woodger on a Javelin trackday at the Norfolk cicuit. Chris Gage also represented car sponsor Cambridge Area Training who are continuing their support for Project Merlot into 2010. Chris Woodger, long time MX-5 fan and Club member is also now know as Car 82 in the Ma5da Racing series. This was Chris W’s first time in the Merlot and it gave him an opportunity to compare the cars ability with his own race car (it came out quite well I think) and give Chris some much needed experience of the Snetterton circuit, new to Chris, but where he will be racing on 24, 25 April.
The day’s sunny start didn’t last long and intermittent light showers throughout the day gave the drivers the chance to try out their wet weather driving techniques as well, although overall the track stayed pretty dry.
It looked very much like “game over” early in the afternoon session when smoke was seen to come from the car which then limped home to the pits. After a few minutes of fear and trepidation Robbie got to the bottom of the problem. A split power steering pipe, and loss of all the fluid were the cause of the smoke. With his usual no nonsense flair 5 minutes later Robbie had it sorted and the car was back on the road, minus its power steering system, but otherwise none the worse.
Several Eastern Region members took advantage of the chance for a high speed passenger ride around the Snetterton Circuit. Ian Johnson had come along with 3 generations of the family and the Merlot had its oldest passenger so far when Chris W took Ian’s 83 year old father, for what was described afterwards, as a “very, very” fast ride!
Its now three and a half years since Project Merlot made its first appearance at the MX-5 Owners Club National Rally in Lincolnshire shortly followed by its first track day at Donnington Park. In that time it’s given many Owners Club members a unique opportunity to get behind the wheel, not worry about those speed limits and learn what an MX-5 is really capable of. Its seen many more members, don a crash hat, get strapped into the passenger seat, and be given the chance to see and feel first hand what its like to be on track, on the limit!