By John Thorne – Mon, 24 Aug 2009 08:00
Dunlop SportMaxx Race Report
First off, remember in the last report I mentioned that wehad our Astra and Corsa sealed by the BARC for investigation of illegal LSD’s? Wellas expected BARC inspected the cars and confirmed that we are using standardVauxhalls differentials and confirmed our cars are 100% legal. The BARCscrutineer came along with a standard diff from a dealership, removed ours,compared them visually and against the part numbers and confirmed they arelegal. We do not run illegal cars and we do not cheat, there are a couple ofpeople in the paddock who need to reel their necks in a bit before accusing usagain. Anyway, it needed to be said.
The penultimate round of the championship and its all comingdown the wire, Abbie entered the weekend in equal first place with Simon Shawin class A and with Ray Grimes back in the seat of the EJM prepared Clio weexpected the weekend for class B to be a tough one for Abbie. In class A wewere without the services of Stuart Clarke in one of the Astra VXR’s so wedrafted in Tom Onslow-Cole into his seat for the weekend, Tom wasn’t able toscore any points but we thought his experience in BTCC would be a useful assetas we continue to develop the cars for the final rounds and for next season. Utilising Toms experience we were keen towork with him and John Allison to improve the Astras handling issues that wehad at Castle Combe.
Weekend didn’t start very well, Abbie wasn’t able to attendthe Friday test day so it meant that all the changes we implemented to sortsome of the tyre wear issues we had at Castle Combe had to be run straight intoqualifying, combined with the fact that she’d never raced at Croft before meantthat we were effectively driving blind for practice, not good. We’d also madesome aggressive changes to the handling of the Astra with suspension andgeometry improvements but with only John available for testing (Tom could bethere until Saturday) we were fully prepared to revert back to the previous setup if we didn’t see any improvement. Overall it wasn’t an ideal way to start aweekend.
What made it doubly annoying was the news (that we receivedin assembly) was that Abbie would only be scoring half points this weekend dueto the fact that the invitation class SEAT had been re-classified to invitationonly so it meant only 3 class B cars on the grid.
With all three cars struggling with a variety of minorissues, lack of track time, set up, time in seat etc they all qualifiedrelatively down the grid, John was in 6th, Tom 7th, Abbiewas 3rd but the racing was pretty entertaining. Abbie and the otherclass B cars were engaged in a race long fight with the Clio, BMW One Seriesand the Clio with Abbie tagging on the back of the first three, this went onfor 7 laps then an incident between the front three let the door open for Abbieto pick up a win in the final laps – phew. Abbie did well but it was clear thatshe was suffering from sheer lack of seat time, she hadn’t driven the circuit,as a result qualified relatively poorly and needed time to get used to where itall went, we also suffered with mid corner grip which we needed to fix, itlooked like the spring rate changes didn’t suit as we’d hoped so we revertedback to the old set up, not easy doing this without testing.
The Class A race was the usual frenetic affair, both Johnand Tom made progress but got stuck behind Corte for most of the race, lined upbehind him in all the corners only for him to pull away down the straights,frustrating and eye opening at the same time. They finished 5th and6th respectively.
With Tom not scoring any points and with both the carssuffering from handling issues from set up changes we’d made we took theopportunity to try some different set ups on Toms car, they both set off prettywell and with John on the old set up he made good progress but Tom again gottangled with Corte which damaged his front wheel and through the geometry outand scrubbing the tyre on the bodywork so that slowed him down dramatically.Abbie got off to a better start starting from pole and despite never gettingaway from the other class B cars got another win and another fastest lap.
Best race of the day for us, John got a good start, got pastCorte early on and set about the Astra VXR of Churchill, he settled for thirdin the end which was a good result. Tom had another mare, we were trying more setup ideas but early in the race Corte clattered the tyre bail at the chicanethrowing a tyre into Toms Astra smashing the bumper, putting a hole in theradiator and he pulled it in pooring coolant out of it.
Next race is Snetterton, final round, who knows what willhappen.
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