June 13th & 14th 2015 - Silverstone - GT CUP Rounds 10,11,12
We started this weekend with the strong expectation that nothing could be as bad as the previous rounds at Brands Hatch. Life doesn’t always turn out as you expect it. I’d given up studying weather forecasts some time ago – you can’t do anything about, so you just have to deal with it.
The team turned up on Friday for testing (to make sure the car ran properly after its rebuild) and we were greeted with a perfect day – dry and warm without being too hot. The car ran well, we tweaked the set up to take advantage of Silverstone’s very fast circuit and covered the Saker up and went to bed, to be up bright & early for Saturday.
Saturday was decidedly ‘damper’ than Friday. Free practice and qualifying was done in atrocious conditions – and they gradually got worse. It wasn’t a case of waiting for the rain to stop, but more about waiting for the tide to go out! Gary started the race at 4.30pm – brave man – and made great progress as he sailed (quite literally) past the bigger horsepower cars.
Alan took over on the half hour mark and made more cautious progress – “it’s very scary out here!” – but kept the car on the black stuff and brought it home as the race got red- flagged due to the deteriorating weather conditions and the cars that were parking themselves at various points of the track. There were times coming down the straights where visibility was so poor that you just had to follow the red brake lights of the car in front as they went round a corner and hope that they were staying on, or you would be following them off into the barriers! Racing in the rain action: https://youtu.be/hqhBdQEthsE
Then is stopped raining! At 6.30pm on Saturday you could actually sit out & sunbathe – crazy weather. Sunday arrived dry and the Saker qualified 13th overall and 4th in class, so pretty good given the lack of power on such a fast circuit.
Gary got a good start and after 6 laps had managed to get up to 11th – and then he simply didn’t come back past the pit wall. We counted the cars down, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 – still no Gary. When that happens it can only mean one of 2 things - the car has broken down or there has been an ‘incident’. Unfortunately for Gary and the car it wasn’t the first one. The Saker had suffered a catastrophic failure of a front ball joint during braking at the fastest part of Silverstone, the end of the Hangar Straight. The car was travelling at 144mph with no control going in to Stowe and carried straight on into the walls & crash barriers at the end of the straight, see the clip here: https://youtu.be/ETz9-Ra5BN8
Thankfully, when we picked Gary up from the MediCentre, he was very James Bond about it – shaken, but not stirred – and in true racing driver spirit was more worried about the car than his own well-being.
The Saker was a sorry sight. The whole front section had been pushed back to the windscreen and there were visible signs of damage to the chassis. The re-building process will take several weeks so it meant that our racing was over for the weekend.
The next GT Cup rounds are at Snetterton over the weekend of 25/26 July. During the rebuild we are taking the opportunity to squeeze a bit more power out of the Saker – and hopefully keep it in one piece!