Dunlop SportMaxx Round 13 – Rockingham 28th Sept 2008



We did it, Leyton is 2008 Dunlop SportMaxx Champion
in his Thorney Motorsport Vauxhall Corsa SRI-R!

What a season and what a perfect end for what has been a
long and sometimes difficult year, we’ve had some desperately poor luck, some
difficult technical challenges but the whole team has rallied, concentrated on
the job in hand and proven to be successful, coming straight after our success
at the Silverstone 24hr race we’re all on a bit of a high right now.

The race weekend was full of nerves, going into the last
round Leyton and Martin Wallbank were level on points and Simon was only just
behind Sean Hollamby and Simon Gusterson in 4th place for Class A,
so Leyton was going for the class and championship and Simon could snatch 2nd
in class and third overall if both of them won and both of them got fastest lap
– easy peasy!











Neither Simon nor Leyton had raced at Rockingham before but
both of them knew the circuit well; Leyton from his role as RMA instructor and
Simon from his time as Rockingham instructor but racing is very different from
track days so both took their time getting accustomed to the circuit. On the
Friday at testing we played around with some suspension settings on both cars
and changed some tyre pressures to keep the back of the Astra nice and loose
and the Corsa more stable on the turn in but it was just fine tuning really,
both drivers reported the cars being nigh on perfect. Attending the test days
before each round has certainly helped us perfect the set up on each car.

Qualifying went perfectly, Leyton quietly put his Corsa on
pole and Simon timed his run perfectly to grab pole from John Allison with a
few minutes to go. Importantly Martin Wallbank appeared to be struggling a little
and ended up 4th on the grid just behind Simon Gustersons Megane so
if the race ended up as the grid then Leyton would win and Simon would get
third in class A.









The last race was a 45 minute enduro, not the easiest for
the cars and with the added uncertainly of 45 second driver stops anything
could go wrong so we nervously lined the pit wall for the race. The lights went
out and Simon got off to a storming start (practicing in the paddock certainly
helped)  and John and Simon slotted in
behind, three laps in and the rain began to fall and Simon lost the Megane into
the gravel leaving the three Astra VXR’s to fight it out. Simon drove a
stunning race, I would say the best of his season, he slowly pulled away from
John and by the end of the race had a 16 second gap on the next Astra, Martin
completed the Vauxhall podium which meant that if Leyton won his class he would
win the championship…..well that’s exactly what he did. A controlled drive
from Leyton was what we needed and he delivered in style, the 45 minute races
are hard on the cars and Leyton drove sensibly to get a lead from the rest in class
and simply maintained it to the end – brilliant driving and immensely
impressive from someone so young (he’s only just turned 17!)









The statistics for the season are impressive. For Leyton in
the Corsa we had 7 class wins, 4 fastest laps and 4 Pole positions. All this in
a car that had never been built for racing any where in the World before! It’s
not often a new race cars performs so well in its first season but to win the
championship on its first outing is impressive indeed. So are a few other
people, Leyton was approached in the Paddock at Brands Hatch and complimented
on how well the car was prepared and that he was to pass on his compliments to all
at ‘

Luton’. Leyton then pointed out it wasn’t in
fact a factory car! The gentlemen didn’t believe him… It turns out he works for
the BMW World Touring Car Team. So it’s nice to have praise from such high







Statistics for Simon in the Astra are even more impressive;
5 race wins, 7 fastest laps and 7 poles really do show just how dominant he was
during the course of the season, if it wasn’t for some bad luck with an early
mechanical failure and a couple of off track excursions we are sure that Simon
would’ve been fighting Leyton all the way for the Championship – impressive
considering Class A had a greater depth of talent and cars involved than class
B. We are obviously delighted with how Simon and our Astra performed against
the factory prepared Vauxhall VXR’s, its nice to have a benchmark to compete
against and we are delighted by just how well Simon repeatedly out qualified
the 888 cars.










Huge congratulations to Leyton for his Championship and
equally to Simon for clinching second in Class and third overall in the
Championship – both seriously impressive drivers, it’s been an honour to work
with them both.











I am personally delighted with how the entire team
performed, we’ve taken two road cars and developed them race and championship
winning race cars, the technicians worked long and hard to develop them and
we’ve had some fantastic partners to help us along the way. We certainly
couldn’t have done it with our key partners, KW proved themselves to be amazing
at working with us to develop the handling on both chassis so deserve a special
mention, Richard Good, MD of KW UK has been present at most races giving us
guidance and help where we needed it. Recaro kept the drivers safe and secure in Hans complaint seats. Pagid supplied
us with brake pads that reminded us how good they were when we swapped to
another supplier for one round and very quickly swapped back. Superchips have been
a fantastic help in working with us on the ECU mapping, to such an extent that
even when we did have different maps for different circuits we didn’t need to
use them, such was the smooth power delivery we achieved and finally Teng
Tools, who kept us supplied with every manner of specialist tool needed to keep
the cars going. Special mention also needs to go to Pentagon Vauxhall Burton,
without their supply of our Vivaro van we really would’ve been stuck all
year.  Technology has been a cornerstone
of our racing this year and we certainly owe a lot to Westcoast/Apple, behind
the scenes we have been developing some exciting new services involving video
and audio that we will be releasing for next season that will enable all of our
supporters to really be involved with the racing both in real life and on line. Thanks also go to Kevin of the Gwynedd Shipping Group, and Graham of RMA Trackdays.













Finally thanks to the TMS team, the technicians; Nick,
Darren, Richard and Steve, the race support and logistics; Ian, Jason, Kerry, Mick,
Hannah, Adam and Tony our Performance Centre Network Manager – during the
course of the season we had over 500 guests from Vauxhall dealerships all of
whom have left impressed with both the racing and the range of performance
upgrades we can now offer through the network. Finally to my family, who have
put up with me being away racing or testing for 24 weekends this year.












Thanks also need to go to our fantastic band of supporters
and helpers, Shane, Felicity, Mark and Helen have attended almost every round
and been invaluable in keeping the cars and us presentable, the fact that they
are true Vauxhall enthusiasts and great fun to have around is certainly
appreciated, especially by me.













Iain (Macca) has been brilliant, his photographic
skills have enabled us to feature in numerous articles in local, specialist and
motor racing press which all helps with both sponsors and the image for the













There are also numerous other friends and owners who have been
instrumental to our success – thank you all.












We are often asked why we race, most tuning firms don’t
bother and sometimes when I look at our bank balance I wonder why we do too but
the answer is brutally simple; racing offers no place to hide, either you win
or you don’t. There are no bhp claims or rolling road shootouts, the pub talk
is left where it should stay – the pub. All of our road car tuning packages are
based and developed directly from our racing program which means that we pride
ourselves on offering the best possible upgrades for the cars we upgrade – we
are the best in the market. During the course of the year we have been able to
work closely with a huge number of Vauxhall dealerships to expand our network
of Performance Centres so owners really can have near local access to our
products and tuning upgrades all fully backed by our 3 year/60,000 mile
warranty – one of the reasons we can offer such a strong warranty is because we
compete – we know how these cars work so we know how to upgrade them and keep
them reliable.









To celebrate our success on track we will soon be releasing
details of a limited edition Corsa and Astra performance model. Based in part
on our racing development these models will come complete with race exhausts,
racing suspension and enhanced power and trim options, they are effectively TMS
race cars for the road. These limited edition models will only be available as
new from one of our Performance Centres and will be launched at the Autosport
show at the NEC in January in time for the March 1st registrations. We
will also be releasing a range of upgrades known as TMS Racing Line, these will
comprise of new race exhausts with wider bore and black tail trims, custom
edition racing wheels from Team Dynamics and enhanced handling via upgraded
suspension options, all of these will be exclusive to our network of
Performance Centres.

Plans for next year are still a little uncertain but we
expect to be out in the SportMaxx series with its much improved format of three
sprint races per weekend and junior BTCC regulations, we hope to see you there.

To download this report as a Word Document click HERE.

To view high & low resolution images from Rockingham click HERE.


Photographs are courtesy of Oliver Read & Iain Mackenzie.