Moh Ritson, the young race driver from Leeds recently took part in 2 events at Silverstone Circuit and Rockingham Motor Speedway as he took a step further to achieving his racing dreams. Despite facing some difficulties and having to race 2 races in a spare car, Moh gained valuable experience we wish him luck going into his next race on May 12th at Brands Hatch. See below for a summary and pictures of Moh’s latest races.
Moh’s report of his latest two races.
On the 23rd March, I arrived at Silverstone Circuit to begin my first race weekend.
We started on a warm, sunny Friday with a day of testing to get the car set up and prepared ready for the busy weekend ahead.
Saturday consisted of a very wet free practice and a greasy track for qualifying. After the tough conditions I ended up 5th out of 14 in the second time ever in my car. My experience on the skid pan benefited me in this situation as I was very comfortable with driving a car in the wet conditions.
Later on in the day, the conditions had only gone and got worse. The rain had stopped but the clouds stopped the track completely drying up. Therefore, the track had turned greasy and slippery. After not being able to get my tyres up to the right temperature, I qualified 11th out of 14 which was acceptable seen as I was confident with my race starts.
Sunday was race day, consisting of two races. For race 1 the track was still very slippery so on my out lap and green lap, I aimed and managed to get my tyres up to temperature to get as much grip as possible. After the out lap and green flag lap, we parked up on the grid for the race start with all 14 cars getting ready for the lights to go out. When they went out, I managed to gain 2 places straight away and got up to 9th. Coming into turn 1, I managed to sneak my way around the outside to avoid all the chaos on the inside of the turn. After completing one lap and gaining a few places I was in a comfortable position and was closing in on the driver in front. On lap two, as I was coming around to complete my next lap, a car spun in front of me, taking out another driver before over correcting and coming across in front of me which led to a hard collision between both us. After the safety car had come out and the cars had been craned and towed off, I had to stay by the edge of the track and wait till the race ended before getting a medical check and having a report done of what happened.
We had 3 hours before race two and the second the car came back to the pits, the pit crew were straight onto the car to see what had been done and if the car was able to run for race 2. These were the longest 3 hours I have ever experienced. The pit crew managed to replace the bonnet, front bumper and wheel arches but the axel had been damaged badly so I was warned that the car would pull to the left a lot when I was driving. 20 minutes before the race started, we had an electrics problem with the car and we couldn’t get it started. With the experience from Le Mans, the pit crew managed to find the source of the problem and got the car started. After taping the bonnet down as the mounts had been damaged from the incident, they rolled the car out the garage with 9 seconds spare. Although I wasn’t able to start on the gird, I was allowed to start from the end of the pit lane which means I would be starting last. As soon as the lights went green, I was straight on to hunting down the next driver. The conditions were perfect with a warm, dry and clean track which I used to my advantage to gain as much time as possible. After one lap, a violent vibration began to shake through the car, so I had to return to the pits just to find that one of my wheels had come loose from the incident. After leaving the pits as fast as I could to get back on track, despite being one lap down, all I had to do was complete 75% of the race for it to be recorded as completed on my licence. I was coming down the back straight when I looked out my mirrors and saw a cloud of smoke coming from the back of my car. Straight away, I knew that I had to slow the car down and bring it into the pits as either a fire could start or my engine was going to blow. Once back in the pits, the pit crew analysed that we had lost water pressure due to a blown water pipe so the engine was not getting cooled and was overheating.
Despite not finishing any of the races, I learned more than I ever would have done if the race weekend had gone to plan.
We had 3 weeks to get the axel straightened out and the front end of the car rebuilt until rounds 3 and 4 at Rockingham Motor Speedway.
On the Thursday of the second race weekend, my team, Tockwith Motorsports, got the car back from being straightened to find out that the axel wasn’t straight yet as the other side had been damaged from the impact. My team did not want me to miss a single race weekend, so they managed to get the spare car prepared and got all the stickers applied on the Friday.
Saturday consisted of free practice and qualifying. The sun was out and the track was warm, so these were the perfect conditions. We went out for free practice with a goal of getting used the track, learning the racing lines and getting a feel for the car. After a tough session out on track we had a few things to change with the setup, tyres and the electrics to get the car to optimum performance.
Later that day with the track even warmer than before, we went out for qualifying on a brand new set of Dunlop tyres. After quite a few laps, I was struggling with how the car was handling, so I came back to the pits to have the rear tyre pressures changed as they were causing the car to slide around some of the corners. As I completed my first lap after coming out the pits, the checkered flag was waved because the session had finished. I qualified 11th for race one and 12th for race 2.
In race one, I managed to get my tyres and brakes up to a really good temperature on the green flag lap. This benefited me on the start. I managed to start with no wheel spin and gained 2 places in the process. Coming into turn two after the long straight and bank of turn one, I stuck to my line down the middle of the track and defended some drivers coming down the inside but I lost a couple of places from drivers coming around the outside. I was back in 11th at this point. A few laps later, a couple of drivers were involved in an incident caused by a leaking car. I managed to get back up to 9th and held this position for the rest of the race.
After going through onboard videos and seeing where I could improve with my excellent coach Sarah Moore who had come 1st and 3rd in here Britcar races the day before, we were preparing for the next race of the day. We initially were expecting rain showers throughout the race but it managed to hold off for us.
Once again, I managed to get my tyres and brakes up to an excellent temperature. When we formed on the grid, I was starting 12th. When the lights went out, I got another great start which meant I made my way up to 10th straight away but back down to 11th in the tussle of turn 2. A couple of corners later, I made 3 places due to a group of drivers tangling up with each other through the exit of the corner. Only a few corners later as I was approaching the penultimate corner of the lap, the electronic fire extinguishers set off, spraying fire retardant onto me, into the car, engine and engine bay. Due to this I came into the pits as my engine was losing power drastically as all the fire retardant had gone into the engine and filled it up.
The mechanics, including Nigel Moore, Le Mans competitor and highly successful racing driver and mechanic were straight onto the car to see if the situation was salvageable. They sent me back out again but as I was heading down the pits, the engine began to stutter and I lost pretty much all my power. At this point, we had to retire.
We managed to get a few points in race 1 but now we are preparing for the next round at Brands Hatch on May 12th and 13th where I will be back in my own car once again.