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22nd April 2012

2011 Round up Bummer!

It was all looking so good at Spa, but then it all went Pete Tong. As you may have read in my last article, we had TVR Pole and led the race for the first 20mins before pitting. The strategy was good and we were on for a Win or at least a second when we were scuppered by the safety car; so after 2 fantastic Track days it was back to Blighty for a check over and the final rounds of DTEC (Dunlop TVR European Challenge).

Even though DTEC had not been our main focus in 2011, strong season had left us in the title hunt at Oulton Park. 6 wins from 8 starts despite a couple of technical issues and I was at the front with Hugh Marshall a couple of points ahead for overall champion. A big grid at Oulton, and Hugh had some tough opposition out in Group A. With several faster cars for Hugh I had a great chance, as I was generally the fastest in Group B, so the odds looked good. Just keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble I thought. Little did I know!

Preparation had gone well. The car had done loads of running at Spa without fault, but as usual, we checked it over fully for Oulton. A clean bill of health, we finished at around 10pm ready for the drive up/set and customary beer or two. We put the car to bed and headed off for a meal and a good nights kip.

Race day arrived and an early start had us scrutineered and ready for the 9am Qually. Suited and booted, I fired the car up for fuelling and final checks. There was the initial fire up and then it seized! Frantic checks showed the oil belt had sheared. The engine turned over, it was just the pump. We only had 40mins, so we stripped the pump and found some debris. We checked out the sump and tank, all OK, so everything was thrown back together to make Qually. With only 10 mins left, on cold tyres and on a damp Oulton track I stuck it on B Pole by nearly 2 seconds…just as the pump sheared again.

Back to the Paddock and it didn’t look good. There was more debris in the pump and with more time, the guys found a broken valve spring. Having sheared the pump again, this time it was just about shot. With little or no time (there was only an hour or so until the first race) the guys fought hard to get me out, scouring the nearby countryside for parts. We got out for lap 2, hoping to get a classification – even 6th would keep us in it – but it was not to be. We admitted defeat and withdrew the car.

That’s Motorsport I guess. One minute you are looking at a win at Spa and possibly being Tuscan Champion…the next, nothing. Still, we’d had a great year of racing and there were two rounds of DTEC to watch, so it was over to Cascades to see the guys battle it out. There was no way I could win even if Hugh had 2 DNFs so I could just relax and enjoy it.

As usual, Oulton did not disappoint. The racing was as frantic and close as ever. Darren Smith had taken GpA Pole with Hugh second by 3 seconds. There was some of the GTs out with us for the second time that year, including the two GTFs of Fred Tonge and the Porker 965Turbo of Brett Winstanley (Danny’s younger brother) so the variety and pace made for great viewing. The GTs came from the back with Darren Smith, Martin Crass and Hughie Marshall tussling up front. There was action all the way and the race finished with Darren taking a win ahead of Hugh Marshall with a great second place just in front of the GTs.

Race 2 was also cracking. The GTs worked their way through to the front this time on the fully dry track and Darren kept his GpA win. Hugh binned it on the last corner of the last lap, going for 2nd past Perry Waddams on the outside at Old Hall. A true racer Hui, flat out to the last, he knew the Championship was his, but still he pushed to the limit. Top Man! With something like 110 Tuscan starts Hui’s the Champ at last, and in a tough GpA year too. Well done matey. See you next year

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