News And Updates

Jim Turner talks to 91 Jim Pitcaithly

13th February 2018

I met up with the ORCi stock rod National Points Champion Jim Pitcaithly and his wife Gillian and the conversation soon turned to racing.

“I am not going to be racing very much this season” Jim commented, and then told me that they are off to the St. Day track in the south west of England, a journey that will take them just over 8 hours to complete! Mind you if you go much further you will end up in the water!

“I really had a good season in 2017 where I ended up winning the National Points, the ORCi championship, the Grand Prix Championship at Ringwood and the west of England championship at Taunton. On the downside I lost the British and Scottish Championships as well as the Racewall track points championship.”

“I had thought about making the National Points title one of my targets but I didn’t really decide to go for it until around September. At that time I had a good chance of winning although my main rival was fellow Scot Camie Doak.”

“My season started off in February when we headed down for a weekends racing at Ringwood and then on to Taunton where I ended up second in the Winter Supreme. However when the season started properly I had a quiet start. I struggled at the Racewall but did alright on the trips to Ireland. One weekend I was at Nutts Corner and the next at Ballymena.”

“At the end of April we had another trip to the south west tracks at Taunton and St Day where the ORCi championship was held. That was my first visit to St. Day and when I saw the track I wasn’t too sure. It was very wet for the heats but my car went well and I got third in the first race, started on pole for the second which I won and that gave me pole position for the main race. My car was really suited to the track and a lot of folk thought that I had raced there before. However the rain stopped and the track was dry for the final. I changed the set up slightly and went for a half dry, half wet set up. That proved to be wrong – should have gone for a full dry set up! I went straight into the lead but then spent the remainder of the race fending off challenges from the other drivers either on the outside or on the inside line. It was certainly the hardest 25 laps that I have raced - it felt like fifty! However in the end it was worth it although I had to repaint the roof of my car to get the orange and white squares on it!”

“The next big race was the European Championship at the Racewall. I am not a fan of the qualifying set up that they ran. I picked up an eighth, a sixth and a fourth in the heats so I started the race from the inside of row 4. The race turned into a disaster although I made a good start. I hit fluid, kicked up some cement dust and got turned into the wall. Whilst there wasn’t too much damage to the car I had broken a drive shaft and a rotor arm. The steward reckoned that it was my fault that the incident happened so I got loaded up.”

“In between the European and the Irish Masters it was mainly domestic meetings at various tracks. I was looking forward to defending my Masters title and we had built a new car. I had tremendous help from my sponsors, mechanics and friends just to get the car finished and the first time that I drove it was onto the trailer! When we got to the track it was raining but in practice the car felt just like my old one. In the heats I was taking things fairly easy, that is until another driver scratched the paint, and after that I went for it. I ended up with a fifth, a third and a second. The race was good and with the car going well I ended up in third spot.”

“August turned out to be a hectic month and involved a lot of travelling. I raced twice at Cowdenbeath and also at Ringwood and Ireland. A lot of hours were spent sitting in a Transit!”

“I ended up in fifth at the Jane Burt Memorial trophy at the Racewall and then we headed down to Ringwood where I was to defend my British title. I had hoped to do a couple of races at Ringwood prior to the British but that hadn’t worked out so we went with the settings from the year before. We didn’t get too much practice but had a misfire and eventually found a bit of plastic in the carburettor. Reckoned it was from the fuel tank and that we had dislodged it when filling the tank up. When we went back out and the car was flying. I was mid point in both heats and ended up dicing with Jordan Morgan on both occasions. I had two good results but in the third heat I made a slight mistake and went from the lead to third and that cost me pole position.”

“In the race itself it was very hot and whilst most people were worried about their tyres Jordan was worried about his fuel tank and whether he had enough fuel for the 40 lap race.”

Jordan was on pole and I was alongside and it turned out to be a race long dice between us, I sat on his bumper for many laps, dropped back and then caught him up again. Try as I might I just couldn’t find a way through. His fuel tank proved big enough and I had to settle for the runners up spot.”

“On Sunday it was the British Revenge race and Grand Prix. And this time I got ahead of Morgan but he had me under pressure for a long time. Ringwood is hard on tyres and I had borrowed some from Leon Stewart as I was running very low. Luckily they stayed good and when some other cars caught up with Jordan he had to defend and I was able to pull away to win.”

“At Cowdenbeath just before the World I got the car badly damaged and that was after the race had finished! We are told to keep racing until the red flag is shown and in the final I was third behind Ian Thompson Snr and the winner Leon Stewart. I went to the outside of Ian and he sent me crashing into the wall. He said he hadn’t seen me!”

“The car was repaired in double quick time and we set off to Ireland for the World. It hasn’t been good for me over the past three seasons. I was on row 2 for the World at the Racewall only for the fuel pump to pack up on the grid. The following year the World was at Barford. I managed half a lap before I was clipped and spun and ended up breaking another rotor arm!”

“Practice and qualifying at Ballymena was on Friday night and after a second place in the opening heat I was quite happy. That disappeared in heat two. I started from the back of the grid and then blew an engine.”

“Had a spare engine with us and we had it in place for the championship. Once the race started I began to struggle with handling and we began to drop back down the order. I retired, loaded up and then set off for the ferry which we caught by the skin of our teeth.”

“Just after the World Gillian decided that I was going to challenge for the National Points and at that time Camie was leading the points. From then on it was a case of trying to race at as many venues as possible. It involved a lot of travelling and we raced at any place from Crimond to Taunton, Arena Essex or wherever we could race.”

“In between we had the Scottish Championship at the Racewall and would you believe it I drew last place! The only saving grace was that Camie was alongside me! The car hadn’t been too good in practice then we seemed to have sorted the problem. Had to change a rear tyre and that changed everything – the car was a nightmare and I think I ended up fifth.

“On one trip home we had a wheel bearing collapse on the van and we managed to limp into a service area on the M6. Good old AA got us back home!”

“In the end it was all down to the last meeting at Ringwood where I was 15 points ahead of Camie. I got a good place in heat one which meant that Camie couldn’t catch me. Although I did the other two races I took it easy as the car had been sold to Lee McGill.”

“Gillian goes with me on all the trips and has a good list of places to stay. I have even had her working on the car. She agreed when I asked her to help change the gearbox and crawled under the car to help!”

“I get a lot of help working on the car from Russell, John Crawford, Trevor, Leon and even James Matson and a lot of friends who just turn up. I must say a big thanks to my sponsors Crawftune Engines, McNaught and Ritchie, Ringtone, Falkland Performance Centre, McGill Motorsports, Calvin Motorsport, ASD, Winpac Scaffolding and Recovery and Breakdown. Without their help it just wouldn’t happen.”

Jim Turner

Back to news