When you crash in real life, there’s no reset button
European correspondent Nik Berg has been competing in an grassroots endurance race series for the Ford Ka minicar. Follow his other EnduroKa exploits here.
“Warning. Motorsport can be DANGEROUS. Despite the organisers taking all reasonable precautions unavoidable accidents can happen. In respect of these you are present at your own risk.”
That’s what it says on the back of the pass for my first full season of circuit racing. I didn’t really pay it much heed until the middle of Silverstone’s famous Copse Corner, when a fellow racer turned in on me, crashed into the side of my car and sent us both skittering off the track.
A Formula 1 car enters this flat-out right-hander at 180 mph. My caged grocery-getter, the Ford Ka, goes in at around 90. Despite being alongside the offending car on the straight, I guess its driver just didn’t see me and steered into my side. There was nothing I could do but throw in some corrective lock and stand on the brakes as we pirouetted in unison. It was the first time since switching from sim racing online that it occurred to me just how “real” things can get.
It’s like Hamilton and Verstappen in 2021 all over again! Racing incident aside we had an amazing race at Silverstone with @ka_enduro – qualified 24th, ran as high as 7th and eventually finished 27th. We have high hopes for the next round at Cadwell Park! pic.twitter.com/897yDB3iWw
— AFK_Racing (@afk_racing) April 18, 2023
Fortunately, Silverstone has a huge run-off area and I was back facing the right way in seconds. I glanced over at the other driver, who was already making his way out of the gravel and got going again.
This was my first ever “racing incident.” All I could think of was how I’d let my team down. The EnduroKA series, as the name suggests, is all about endurance; I was the last of four to drive, out for the final hour or so of a five-hour event at the home of the British Grand Prix. I simply needed to bring it home.
My teammates had done a cracking job. I’d qualified us in the mid-twenties out of a pack of 41 cars, just tenths of a second away from the top ten. Then Nick Creed started the race and worked his way through to an amazing eighth place. His sister Natalie Knowles took us to seventh before a fuel and tire stop dropped us back. Then Tim Parsons took over for a solid drive that maintained position just outside the top 20.
I was fueled to the end and determined to claw back some places, but within 15 minutes I was limping back to the pits with damage. The front tires were flat-spotted, the wing bent, although the suspension and brakes were intact so I was sent out again with a pair of badly worn boots and the red mist descending.
I’d like to be able to report a fairytale ending, like when Lewis Hamilton came back from his Copse collision to take victory. But despite driving my heart out, recording our team’s fastest laps, and not once being overtaken on track, we finished 27th after having to make an unexpected fuel stop.
It could, of course, have been much worse. I was deemed not at fault while the other car in the accident was given a penalty. The damage to our car was superficial, and most important, nobody was hurt.
There are five more races to go this season, with the longest running to a full 12 hours, and we’re learning something new every time we head out. It’s exciting that as a team we seem to have got pace to run in the top ten. We pushed our tire pressures up and gained both speed and durability, our new pit-to-car radio system worked brilliantly, and our driver changes were slick and fast.
It’s a big step forward from our first race last year. We know where we need to improve—not crashing would certainly help—and that’s what we’ll be seeking to do on the tight and twisty Cadwell Park in June.