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24 September 2007

Dutch Supercar Challenge, Silverstone. The Team's Perspective

Courtesy of tvr Club website Pictures by Gary Harman

Silverstone was always going to be a challenge for the team, with the new car completed at the circuit just hours before the race. The tvr Sagaris V8GT looked stunning in its monochrome livery, but without a pre race shakedown we expected problems in qualifying. As it turned out, although the problems ruined our pace, they were quick to fix – a plug lead came adrift and the ECU timed out.

With these matters attended to Holden took the start for Race 1. With the car on just its 8th ever lap, he was cautious, listening for noises and watching the temperature readouts. We didn’t need a first corner pile up after all the hard work to finish the car so he conceded a couple of places to avoid contact at the first corner but was hit in the back by a Porsche 997 GT3 anyway! After a few laps taking it gently the car seemed fine (although incredibly noisy with rubber pick-up clattering the under tray and wheel arches) and he started to pick off the cars in front. By lap 10 he had moved up from 24th to 14th before pitting on lap 12 for the driver change. Andy reported that the car felt good: planted, excellent under brakes, a touch of understeer but absolutely no oversteer. The main problem was a lack of power, with the engine very slow to rev making it impossible to exit corners quickly. Despite this he said it was pretty easy to pick off the Porsches under braking and by carrying more speed through the corners.

Dowling continued the charge with a couple of quick laps, but on lap 14 he pulled off on the back of the circuit. When he and the car were returned to the paddock he explained that the throttle had stuck open. The team set about the car to investigate, but the engine refused to start. The cause was a dropped valve in cylinder 7 – the most likely explanation that debris from the track had worked its way through the air intake, initially jamming the throttle butterfly and then dropping into the cylinder head and wrecking the valve. This spelled a long night for an already exhausted team, with no choice but to change the engine. Before the engine was removed further examination of the throttle linkage revealed that the adjustable stop on the throttle pedal had worked loose. This meant the drivers could only get half throttle with the pedal flat to the floor, explaining why both complained of lack of power.

With the engine change completed by Saturday lunchtime and the throttle reset, Darren took the first stint in Race 2. A blinding start from 20th on the grid and a superb first lap saw him pass the pits in an incredible 9th place. After a fierce battle with the BMW V8 GTR of Peter van der Kolk, he passed the BMW on lap 9 but a mix up with signalling saw him pit unexpectedly early and time was lost during the driver change. Holden emerged down in 18th place, which became 13th as the rest of the cars completed their mandatory stops. With Holden having borne the brunt of the final car build and managing only a few hours of sleep, he made a number of mistakes. Running wide at Luffield he skated over the gravel trap emerging several places down, undoing the hard work to overtake the Porsche of Nick Staveley.

As the chequered flag dropped car 122 finished its first race in 14th position. The team were delighted – the car performed incredibly well considering there had been no time for a shakedown. The throttle stop had again unwound during the race giving just 50% throttle, and the return springs meant minimum revs were around 3,000, causing the car to accelerate through the slow corners and understeer badly. However these are quick fixes and we know the car has the potential to be incredibly quick – even with half throttle it is already faster than the Porsche 997 GT3s!

Acknowledgements: We must thank a number of parties for their help and support: sponsors IMR Limited and Serck Services, APM Automotive (engine build), Ewleme Coachworks (paintwork), Matrix (graphics) and the team crew lead by Chris Gregory: Tony and Mark Hockin, Ashley Webb and Katie and Bob Walker. We must also make special mention of Charlie Barnard who contributed greatly to the build of the car but could not be there for its debut. Finally Andy would like to thank his family; Yvonne and Aless, for their support and understanding over the prolonged 18 month build of the car

The team are working on an entry to the next Dutch Supercar race at Spa on10-14 October and are now seeking additional sponsors for the 2008 season, with an assault on the Britcar Championship and further Dutch Supercar Challenge races planned.

The Silverstone races will be televised on Motors TV at a time and date to be advised.

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