May 7th & 8th 2016 - Brands Hatch - GT Cup Rounds 4,5 & 6
After the disappointment of Donington, emotions at Brands were mixed to say the least. Everything that had broken had been mended, the car had been re-mapped and here we were, about to race on one of the most iconic Grand Prix circuits in the world – what could go wrong?
To top it all we also had one of our sponsors attending the weekend who had flown all the way from Jackson, Mississippi to support us – so thank you Jim and Luke (CWP).
The Saturday started brightly – clear blue skies and the Saker had performed well on the Friday test day. However, during free practice, the warmer the day became, the slower the car.
We managed to coax it through qualifying – very near the back, I have to say, but at least we would be starting. Also we had identified the problem – the engine was simply getting too hot and shutting down power as certain temperatures were being reached.
So, a few modifications later (fans and holes in the body), we were starting on the grid and the first few laps saw the Saker dispatch the back-marker Astons and start to head up the field towards some of the Porsches. Then, coming round Druids there was a total lack of power – nothing. The engine temperature was still reading an acceptable level, but despite best efforts the car could only be coaxed to the entrance of the pit lane before totally stopping. That was when the real problem became apparent as smoke started to fill the cabin.
On reflection my car to pit communication of “the car’s on fire!” was relatively calm, but I did find out how quickly I could undo my safety harness and get out of the car – useful practice for driver changeovers!
Back in the Paddock we discovered that our oil breather pipe had failed, spraying hot oil all over the engine and igniting the wiring loom. Woody and the team worked in their ever-efficient manner to carry out running repairs and get the car ready for the race on Sunday.
Sunday’s race was late in the afternoon, when it was marginally cooler. Qualifying with restricted power had left us near the back of the grid, but over 50 minutes there was still plenty to race for. The start was compromised somewhat by the Lamborghini starting behind me, which stopped me getting in front of the more powerful Astons, however the next 20 minutes made for exciting racing between the Saker and the AM Vantage. The Saker was clearly quicker through the corners, but was struggling to find the power to get in front. That was until I finally got up the nerve to shoot down the inside at Paddock Hill for a very dramatic-looking overtake – right in front of our suite! It certainly gave our supporters something to cheer. David Brice took over for the second shift and managed to pull a 1.38 lap out, and we managed to finish a creditable 4 in class. Not bad considering the problems we had.
The car will be undergoing a comprehensive re-build prior to our next race weekend at Oulton Park on 23 of July.