August 15th & 16th 2015 - Brands Hatch - GT Cup Rounds 16 & 17
Team Saker headed back to Brands with mixed feelings – we had missed out on the rounds at Snetterton as we got the car back together from Silverstone and I was apprehensive about tackling the GP circuit after my ‘problems’ last time – we all hoped that things could only get better (cue music!).
The content of the weekend was slightly shorter than normal – no practice session and only 1 sprint race on the Saturday, followed by the endurance race on the Sunday, but without any additional qualifying. This weekend we were without our regular experienced driver, Gary Duckman who had bowed to family pressure and gone off on holiday – so I was joined by our tame racing driver, David Brise.
Given my need for seat time, it was decided I would take the entire qualifying period and was able to post a 1.43.847 lap. The target for the race was a 1.41 and we were able to oblige with a 1.40.806, which was great improvement. What was noticeable was that the Saker was more than a match for many of the cars in the corners, but the lack of out and out power was spoiling our chances in the race. Still, a good end to the day – and the car was all in one piece!
Sunday was a fine day – still warm and no rain. Tactics were simple – Purbrick to start, carve out comprehensive lead, let Brise bring the car home for a podium! After a relatively cautious start, the race took an unexpected turn after the first major crash of the day - rounding Hawthorns to find an Aston in several pieces and major debris across the track. The safety car got us all bunched back up again and then after 25 minutes it was time for a driver change.
We actually had a good driver change over and David left the pits bang on the 1 minute 17 seconds allowance and then came straight back in again! The car was inexplicably stuck in 1st gear and it took several feverish minutes to find out the problem. A miniscule pipe connecting the flappy paddle gear change actuator to the compressor had an even smaller nick in it. It had probably been caused by some carbon debris from one of the earlier crashes and was the literal million to one incident.
The consequence was that the car had to be retired and we went back to the paddock to contemplate what a cruel sport motor racing can be.
On the positive side, the car was undamaged and had been put together perfectly by Ed and his team. We have also subsequently dyno’d the current engine and know we are getting 280bhp out of it – so there are improvements that can be made there.
A team decision has been made to pass on the next rounds at Donington while we concentrate on getting the car set up perfectly for the last rounds of the year at Oulton Park, we are hoping our power ‘tweaks’ will deliver the competitive package we have all been working towards. We will keep you posted!
Next rounds for the Saker – 10th October at Oulton Park.