I will compete in the 2015 BRSCC Open Sportscar Championship. Class B (under 2.0L)
Change to the car for 2015 include:
• New gearbox and bell housing
• New rear suspension
• New rear uprights
We using the same engine for 2015 but everything rear of the engine is new. New bellhousing, new Hewland 6 speed sequential gearbox and all new rear suspension including new uprights.
Testing on the Thursday before the race was not a great success. 15 laps in and whilst the new sequential shift felt great the clutch disengaged and never released again. Luckily I managed to free wheel into the pits. Back home, engine out. We re-measured everything but found no problems. So engine back in on Friday night, car onto the trailer and van packed.
We departed for Silverstone early Saturday morning and lined up mid field for a damp qualifying. Did a few laps as a system check before heading to the pits. Coming through Luffield on my way to the pits someone spun in front of me. I instinctively dipped the clutch to avoid the incident but although the pedal came back up the clutch remained disengaged.
Freewheeled into the pits to retirement. After pushing the car back to the awning the clutch was still disengaged. During our cup of tea and whilst mentally preparing for another engine out there was a loud crack from the car and the clutch re engaged. Lots of relief that we did not have to take the engine out but how were we going to get through 3 races. We determined that the clutch release piston was jamming when hot so it was decided that I could use the clutch to get going and maneuverer whilst everything was cold but once the race started I could not press the clutch pedal (not even once!). This might be a challenge with my brand new gearbox.
I had qualified 12 overall and had a nice dry warm-up lap to try out my clutch less gear changes. A great start and up to 6th at the end of the 1st lap. 5th by lap 3 and finally past Doug Bowkett’s powerful jade and into 3rd on lap 9. Unfortunate by then Duncan Williams in his class B Juno and Tim Gray in his class B Spire GT-3 were 10 seconds up the road and I finished the race in 3rd. Still I did finish the race and managed not to press the clutch at all during the race. Not the best way to learn a new gearbox.
The second race was again dry and this time I started 10th. Not such a great start this time but again managed to avoid pressing the clutch for the whole race and completed the 15 minute race in 3rd following a retirement for Tim Grey.
Sundays second race finally saw me starting near the front – 3rd due to my finishing position in race 2 with Duncan Williams and Simon Tilling’s (in a 490BHP Ligier) starting ahead. I maintained my position off the start but on Lap 2 Richard Fearn's blasted past down the back straight so down to 4th. Back past out of Copse next lap and quickly caught Duncan. Managed to nip past on the way out of Luffield 1 before Luffield 2 and caught Simon. My draft down the back straight was poor given my 200 BHP deficit but I managed to brake massively late and snick past into Luffield 1. Head down for some fast laps and cruised to an easy win. Later found out that Duncan and Simon had both retired but I was very happy to get past the before their problems.
What a weekend. Somehow the car had lasted and held together despite only a handful of shakedown laps and a major clutch problem. Elated to get a win!
As a final note Duncan fastest lap of 53.338 turned out to be the fastest of the year at Silverstone National. Very pleased to be within a second of this in a car with sone many new components.
Arrived at Snetterton with an completely new clutch release mechanism. The problems at Silverstone was heat related with different materials in the clutch mechanism expanding at different rates. A change of material and increase clearance solved the problem.
The car has always been very light on tyres so we decided to try running super soft Mitchilin’s for the Snetterton weekend. Unfortunately 4 laps into qualifying and after a massive slide through Coram I realised the plan was not going to work and they were way too soft. Managed to qualify 3rd for race one and race two, with race three’s grid being decided by the race two finishing positions. Very pleased to be so close to Duncan Williams and again impressed by Tim Grey in the Spire in 2nd.
Not a bad start but Tim Got ahead of Duncan. We were all within 1.2 seconds for the first 3 laps then on lap 4 Duncan and I got a great run onto the back straight and dived past Tim into the Esses’s, Duncan stayed tight to get a good line into the second part of the corner – I was not going to let this one past and dived up the inside, just scrabbling round. In to the Bombhole to see Tim behind having got past Duncan.
Head down and pulled away from both. Tim’s engine blew up on lap 11 and Duncan retired with suspension problems having had a coming together with Tim a few laps after I had past them.
So my second win of the year and really pleased to get past both Duncan and Tim before their problems. The second race was not going to be so great though…..
Sunday mornings race was wet – unfortunately I was on slicks and everyone else was on wets. We normally get the call right but it made for an interesting 15 minutes and I managed to salvage 3rd place. Well done to Tim on his 1st OSS win with an awesome wet performance and Duncan for his second.
So to the final race. 3rd on the grid and past Duncan on lap 1, then straight past Tim into the lead on lap 2. Duncan retired on lap 2, so all I had to do was get my head down and pull away from Tim.
But he hung on. I had a few backmarker issues but still thought I should be pulling away but could not get rid of him. Past the last lap board with a 0.265 second lead which I held for the whole lap until…..entering Coram, flat out at 130mph I braked half way round as usual and let the car drift wide to block Tim. Pushed the gearlever forward 5 times to go from 5th to 1st only the last push was not enough (fatigue!). Exited the chicane in 2nd not 1st only for Tim to blast past – started to pull back past but too late we had gone over the line.
Fantastic race though and delighted to maintain 100% podium finishes for the year and be leading the championship by a large margin.