I don’t always lend myself to a vanity exercise like this, but after a reflective Christmas period I couldn’t help but revisit some of my older race videos and came to this idea. While the video stands up well on it’s own, some of the overtakes here had meatier context than translates in a few 30-ish second clips. View the Full Top 12 Overtakes HERE, and read on if you want to know a little more about what they mean to me and why.
Top 12 Overtakes!
12. “The Dive” – Oulton Park 2009
Whether it comes down to a quirk of my technique or a characteristic of racing relatively low-powered cars, it’s been a rare occurrence that a ‘classic’ outbraking manoeuvre actually comes off like this for me in a Stock Hatch car. Often, unless you clear the car to your outside in the braking phase and can return to a normal line, you end up having to hold your car into a much tighter line and it doesn’t have the differential technology or power to drag itself through the exit if your opponent can hold track position to your outside. This pass turned out to be the “Scorpion Kick” of overtakes – in that it didn’t count. Two corners later the race was red flagged and restarted, but I wasn’t to know that at the time!
Full video: Oulton Park 2009 1st Attempt.
11. “The Box” – Pembrey 2011
As drivers with no prior experience of Pembrey, myself and Paul Thorpe (orange Fiesta) were two of just three drivers who drove the entire qualifying session after it started raining heavily after just a couple of laps and nobody could improve. The wet track experience paid off in the first race as we made our way to the front in the equally wet race to finish 1-2 in my favour from 3rd and 4th on the grid – although Thorpe (still a novice at the time!) certainly had the measure of me, he didn’t want to risk throwing away his first podium finish. Race two saw a still damp track, and we were a row further back. Thorpe had pace again but after a few laps behind Cooper’s blue Nova I managed to box him out using Cooper as a pick. With Thorpe looking to the outside, I could take away his track position for long enough to squeeze by. It was a strategic pass against a driver who had the pace to beat me that day, and the points would be valuable as the title race unfolded that year.
Full video: Pembrey 2011
10. “RWD Baptism” – Oulton 2012
It’s a clichéd way to say it, but my first race in a rear wheel drive car came as a last minute call to drive Marcus Miller’s savage, modified Triumph TR6 in a CSCC event – and you could certainly call it a baptism of fire. Taking to the track as a first time in such a heavily modified car on a wet-but-drying Oulton Park for qualifying was daunting enough – but having the gearstick come off in my hand as I spun trying to find a gear on the exit of Druids had me in meltdown. After a hasty pitlane repair I was back out and surprised to see myself 4th on the capacity grid! With the track dry for the race I would have to learn it all again, but taking 3rd place on lap 1, I chased down David Holroyd’s Lotus Elan (then running a twin-cam!) and capitalized on his running wide at Cascades, it wasn’t over until Island though, the rapid Elan had the legs so it was relief that he tucked in behind in the end!
Sadly a lap later the rear brake cylinder failed and I was lucky to retire the car without damage, just 3 and a half laps into a 40 minute race. What could have been!
Full video: CSCC Triumph TR6 Oulton
9. “Judged” – Donington 2012
There’s an argument for saying this was my most competitive event with the Saxo VTR I ran in 2012-13. My best finish had been 4th at Cadwell Park, but after 2 laps of this race I ran high in the order and for the only time with that car, in clear sight of the lead. The conditions were awkward; light rain, and a track that wasn’t completely wet – it made a spot in the chasing pack quite appealing! I lost a couple of places at the chicane on lap 3, and followed a group of cars off at The Old Hairpin. It cost me a lot of time and dropped me into a battle with a driver I would fight all year: Paul Jarvis. Racing with Jarvis was always fraught but legal and fair, and while I think I’ve made contact with him more than any other driver while I’ve raced – it’s always been above board. Good racer who finally broke his duck this year with a much deserved win in Stock Hatch!
Of all the passes and re-passes between us over that season, I chose this one because it was perhaps the most finely-judged cutback I’ve achieved. In a later race at Donington we ran side by side for an entire lap! So close, that neither of our onboard cameras ever pick up the other car until we were finally back in single file…
Full video: Donington Park 2012
8. “He’s Going High: 1” – Anglesey 2009
If it wasn’t for living 30 miles from Cadwell Park, I think Anglesey might be my favourite circuit to drive. The Coastal layout with The Corkscrew is superb, and multiple elevation changes and some unusual turns make it a circuit to reward a thinking driver.
Going to the outside is always a risk, but much less so in a corner with a slightly progressive banking. Turn 2 at Anglesey is a bit of a speedbowl and the outside line can really launch you off the corner at the expense of a greater distance. I knew if I could make enough ground on the brakes I’d have a hugely superior exit speed. It’s a move I repeated a few times that weekend but my camera fell off in the other race!
Full video: Anglesey 2009
7. “The Pass in the Grass: 1” – Cadwell 2011
If there’s one benefit to breaking a gearbox in qualifying for a season finalé when you have a slender championship, it’s the opportunity to drive back through the field without panicking about the championship. I could afford to drop a couple of points during the weekend but it meant finishing at most a couple of spots behind my rival Matt Rozier. From 11th on the grid it would be a tall order, but the rain came and suddenly Cadwell was open for overtaking!
It was always going to come down to positions gained on the first lap, and I would cross the line 6th at the end of lap one. The most questionable pass happens to be one of my proudest, although it features lower on this list as I know it’s not a favourite among those that police or respect track limits… It was a proper elbows-out pass when I really needed it, and one of the only time I made contact with another car during this race. You’ll see more from this day later in the list…
Full video: Cadwell Park 2011 part 1
6. “The Famous Guy” – Oulton 2009
More Oulton Park! So I rank this one for two reasons, one because it was the first time I used bodywork to “assist” a pass, and two because it was an around-the-outside move on a current BTCC driver!
The move was a risky one and relied on Cook cutting me some slack at the entry to the chicane, but it was a rewarding pass all the same. It is only fair to say that this was the only time I ever overtook him on track, he was usually too far in front!
Full video: Oulton Park 2009 restart
5. “He’s Going High: 2” – Mallory 2013
The other candidate for most competitive showing in the Saxo was the 2013 opening round at Mallory Park, and in a large part that was down to this first lap moment. It was almost as if the seas parted and I was granted my own lane at the hairpin! On the video you can literally hear a hesitant lift of the throttle before I picked it back up to drive into the space in front, and again use banking to launch me out of the bend – passing three cars! You can actually hear the others banging bumpers at the entry…
Full video: Mallory Park 2013
4. “The Dive: 2” – Cadwell 2011
A lap after the first “Pass in the Grass” I was behind Rozier when he managed to surge past two cars in one move into the Hall Bends! In a bid to stay with him, I got right on the bumper of Cooper’s Nova through the twisty section and dived across to the inside for the hairpin. I ended up with enough momentum to double up and pass Boon’s Metro too, although I am glad there wasn’t a camera watching my face at the time. My eyes might have been shut!
I always hear people say that there is no room to pass at Cadwell but I disagree. To make one count at such a tight corner, and in such a pressure situation with the title on the line makes this a firm favourite of mine – albeit possibly the lowest speed!
Full video: Cadwell Park 2011 part 1
3. “The Pass in the Grass: 2” – Donington 2015
The lead trio of Thorpe, MacMillan and myself had broken well clear of the rest of the field, but it had been quite a stalemate until a few laps to go when positions started changing. Having run 3rd from the first lap onwards, I had enough pressure on MacMillan to prevent him having a proper run at Thorpe’s AX GTi, although that changed when I outbraked myself trying to pass him at Melbourne. A gap no larger than a second was enough to allow MacMillan to focus on going forward, and he tee’d up a move into the blind right-hander at Coppice. With both cars taking a tight line, I held wide to try and cut back underneath at the exit and it worked… sort of.
As I moved to occupy the space on the inside, MacMillan was coming back across the track to block Thorpe’s comeback. With space diminishing, I figured I could keep my boot in and it would look like I was pushed off the track, which would be partly true. Thorpe’s car ended up pinched and after a couple of contacts he lifted to regroup. At one point my whole car was off the circuit! Lucky for me as I’d have been on the outside of 3-wide at The Esses otherwise.
TV Footage: 750 Motor Club Donington 2015 (38:10-onwards)
Full video: Donington Park Race 2, 2015
2. “The Leap of Faith” – Cadwell 2011
Another shot from the same race? True enough, but to pass a championship rival on the penultimate lap – on the outside of Cadwell’s first turn, in the wet… I’m not even sure I could do it again! After charging from 11th to 3rd in two laps, my assault stagnated a little and it took many laps of chipping away to get any closer to Rozier and Scott at the head of the field.
After a decent exit from Barn, I was close enough to Rozier to have my vision drastically reduced by spray, and I had enough of a run to get alongside. As I did so I lost sight of the blue 205 as I had bashed the nearside mirror on one of those daft floppy bollards, so I just had to turn in and hope. Half a lap later I was in the lead and on my way to a victory I still rank as my best!
Full video: Cadwell Park 2011 part 1
1. “The Bumpdraft” – Silverstone 2014
There’s something special about those fleeting moments of co-operation between competitors. As I rejoined Classic Stock Hatch in 2014 I was finally going up against one of my best mates off the track – Imran Khan. Khan’s red Fiesta XR2 was, in truth, no match for the Nova’s acceleration but could wind up to a decent top speed given the chance and such a chance arose that day at Silverstone!
Khan had already passed me earlier in the lap when he made a dive inside Rozier’s 205 at the entry to the Hangar Straight. With both cars a little slower off the corner, I exited with an advantage and found the road blocked by two cars side-by-side. The best choice was to push one of them so I lined up to the back bumper of the Fiesta and gave it a shove, then another. It’s really surprising how much speed two cars gain when they are lined up like this, and our combined speed carried us all the way to the next car by the end of the straight. Khan looked to the inside of Cayzer’s white Fiesta and the pair made light contact, just enough to dull their momentum at Stowe. Enough to give me a chance to pass both into club, in a 3-wide inside pass! 3 cars in about 20 seconds… I’ll take those all day!
TV Footage: 750 Motor Club Silverstone 2014
Full video: Silverstone 2014 Race 2
Thankyou for reading!