Running a race team ofthis size in multiple championships is certainly interesting. This weekend wehad almost every aspect of racing land on our doorstep, inter team car on carcontact, a big crash, race wins and podiums, a TV crew in tow, mechanicalfailure and another incident of crap tail lifts messing us about.
The weekend startedreasonably well, Dunlop Sportmaxx qualifying produced excellent results fromall three drivers, Abbie got pole again, John put in an excellent performanceto get 4th but Stuart again pulled out a great last minute run toput his Astra VXR second on the grid behind a very quick Seat from Shaw (likeover a second quicker) so we were 2nd and 4th on thegrid. Abbie again did her usual trick of putting it on pole by half a secondfrom the Ford Fiesta of Mark Weidner.
With both Astra VXR’sup the grid we were hopeful of a good race and we certainly got an excitingone, with Shaws SEAT so much quicker in qualifying (over a second is an age intrack terms) the best we could really expect was a second and third from Johnand Stuart but both of them got relatively poor starts with the 888 Astras gettingpast on the grid. What followed was a fantastic effort from both of them, Johnand Stuart fought their way past all them to settle in to a great race betweenthem, lap after lap John and Stuart traded places in 2nd and thirdbuilding a large gap on the cars behind, it was great to watch…..too great ittranspired.
At the entry to theold hairpin John put a defending line on the following Stuart and there wascontact, John was flicked sideways but recovered but Stuart got thrown into thegravel – game over. John carried on to finish a fantastic second place (whichwas an effective win in our minds considering the relative pace of the SEAT) buta DNF for Stuart meant it wasn’t all good news.
Its always a measureof the strength of a team when dealing with two competitive drivers, we run noteam orders at Thorney Motorsport, once on track both drivers compete to win,however when we go from a 2/3 podium to a 2nd/DNF it was somethingwe needed to address. Fortunately with John and Stuart we have competitive andsensible drivers, both of them saw that regardless of fault on track an extraelement of care should be exercised when in close competition with a teammateand that was all agreed. (In other words we said they were our toys and if theycouldn’t play nice then we would take them away J) .
Whilst all this washappening Abbie continued to dominate Class B, however the fly in the ointmentfor her was the series guest driver, in this case Paul O’Neil (BTCC) had beeninvited to drive the second Seat Leon and his driving calibre shone through, bylap 4 he was from the back of the grid to head class B and was chasing downsome class A cars before the end. However, as a guest driver he doesn’t scorepoints so in terms of results its was the usual day in the office for Abbie,another win, another fastest lap, well done.
With John second on thegrid and Stuart right at the back after his race 1 DNF we had a different plan.We wanted John to see how close he could get to the SEAT and for Stuart all weasked was to get into the top 6. Well John got mugged at the start (the 888Astras seem very quick in a straight line, a point confirmed in the speedtraps) and then spent a long race picking them off one by one, which he didwith excellent skill, only Wallbank was too far ahead to get, Corte and Clarkeseeming much easier prey. Stuart did a fantastic drive to get all the way to 5thplace and with a couple of laps more we think he’d have got past Clarke(Leyton) as well. Our Astras certainly handle well I’m happy to say. So anotherpodium for John and a well deserved 5th for Stuart from the back ofthe grid.
Abbies race was morethe same, Paul O’Neale showed is skill by getting away at the start but Abbiedid a brilliant drive to keep him in sight – impressive stuff seeing as Paul isa proven BTCC race winner. Another win for Abbie.
We reckon we were duea win in at least one of the Astras this weekend and we finally got it. Thegrid was a draw and John got 6th, Stuart got third and from theStart Stuart was a man on fire, he got the lead from the first corner with abrave move through the middle of two other cars at Redgate and then, frankly,buggered off into the distance – a truly class drive and something he richlydeserved.
John had a reasonablestart and again demonstrated his skill at doing what racers like most – overtaking, picking off Astras along the way John got onto the bumper of Wallbankand it looked as if it was only a matter of time before John got past to makeit a TMS 1,2 but with just three laps to go – disaster, the drive shaft bootfailed knackering the drive shaft and forcing John to retire, we were gutted.
I know it sounds likerepetition but again Abbie just did what she does best – winning, another race,another truly stunning drive and another win with maximum points. I waswatching her from the Milltek Sport box at Redgate and not once did I see herline deviate by more than a few inches – that’s impressive driving, especiallyfrom someone so young (she’s 17). I wont even get into the fact she’s a girlfor fear of politically correct commentators having a pop – her driving isimpressive, male or female.
So all in all a greatweekend, Stuart got his first win, John got two podiums to increase his pointtally nicely and Abbie continues her march to the championship dream. Amongstall this we had a TV crew following Abbie around as they shot footage for adocumentary about women in motorsport as well as a wider UK motorsportdocumentary about TMS (there was even beer fuelled talk of a UK ‘Days ofThunder’ believe it or not) so all in all we had a great weekend.
In the CSLCup (full report here) we did equally as well with my own first win in thesecond race and Darren getting another win and Mark scoring a third so the teamgoes home with another 6 garlands – [pretty soon we’ll have to open a florists.But the best thing about it all? Everydriver, every team member all enjoyed themselves – that’s important. Next raceis at Castle Combe in 2 weeks time, why not come along.
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