The final round of the 2016 AMOC intermarque championship was held at Silverstone, on the national circuit. Friday testing went very well, with a lap times set that would have put us at the front of the grid if the weather was to stay dry.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t stay dry into Saturday, with a down pour arriving as the cars assembled before the qualifying session. So on dry tyres and with a dry setup qualifying was very slippery and we ended up a disappointing 7th in the Intermarque race. We spent the next part of the day hoping the weather would clear up and give us a dry race, but we were not so lucky.
With a large down pour around 30 minutes before the scheduled race start an easy decision was made to switch to wet weather tyres.
The race started in the worst conditions of the day, with heavy rain and nearly every car on wet tyres there was so much spray visibility was almost at zero, not aided by the fact the windscreen had steamed up.
With hindsight the race should have started under safety car conditions, and Tom Black proved by spinning into the pit wall at the end of the first lap, the chasing pack doing a very good job avoiding him when unsighted.
This brought out the safety car and a chance to wipe the screen and open the door to get some air on it. After a few laps behind the safety car the screen cleared and we got underway again. The car clearly much better now on a wet setup and wet tyres we started to work our way forwards.
After the pit stop and the field started to spread out driving became easier as did visibility. Another off caused a safety car and gave us a chance to get closer to our rivals in the 968s ahead. Unfortunately, at the safety car restart we had some back marking traffic that took several laps to clear and by that time Steve Atkinson in 2nd place was around 6 seconds ahead. So with Steve in sight we set about catching him, and taking some time out of him over the next few laps we were gaining ground. As I pushed slightly too hard coming into Brooklands corner, in front of family in the grandstand I went wide onto the tarmac run off. We lost around 3 seconds to Steve, and I made my decision to back off and make sure the car finished with no unnecessary damage.
James Hilliard the championship leader and race leader received a drive through penalty for track limit infringements, and this brought him out of the pit lane just ahead of me. By now, a couple laps after I decided to back the pace off the tyres had dropped pressure and temperature. With James determined not to be caught and now on cold tyres we couldn’t fight for second. The race finished with Steve winning, James 2nd and we came 3rd.
Considering we weren’t confident with the car in wet weather we were very pleased with the result, especially on a day were conditions were so bad we would have just been happy to have the car undamaged, which it was.
We’re already looking forward to and planning for 2017 season.
The video bellow its hard to see much out the windscreen for the first couple of laps, then it clears up, but its exactly as much as I saw, so you know how hard it was.
We came into Brands Hatch weekend on the high of the first win at Snetterton, but our expectations were low. Brands Indy is a circuit more suited to the less powerful better handling cars. So we would have been happy with a podium.
After testing on Friday afternoon it was clear we were not on race winning pace, the 968s certainly had an edge and in qualifying the Ferrari 355s were also quicker than us. We qualified 5th overall the only rival that was behind us was Steve Atkinson. So the expectation was that we’d have an exciting race with Steve and if we’re lucky aim for a podium.
The start was excellent (see the video) we launched from 5th on the grid into a solid 2nd at Paddock Hill bend and edged back to 3rd at Druids. The race settled into a rhythm were we tried lots of different lines and gears in an attempt to keep up with the 2 drivers ahead (James Hilliard in the Feathers 968 and Nigel Jenkins in his 355). They were just about in sight while we were racing with the stragglers from the GT4 grid ahead.
Not long into the race we went past a crawling James Hilliard who retired with a broken hub. As we got close to the pit stops Steve Atkinson was closing in from behind and the fight was on. We held off Steve (shame the video wasn’t pointing rearwards!) until the pit stop phase of the race. Coming in to the stop with a very narrow 2nd place. Steve stayed out much longer whilst we went about putting in some fast laps to ensure Steve didn’t beat us out the pits. We suspect Steve made an error in his stop as we didn’t see him again.
A couple laps after stopping a we pass a slow moving Nigel Jenkins, with a failed wheel bearing. Now in the lead and the pit board showing 8 seconds to 2nd. With around 30 minutes to go there was still very much a race on. I felt very paranoid about lifting off in case I lost the lead so doing the only thing I could was to just push as hard as possible and try to make every lap faster than the last setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 39 and finishing 1st overall for the second time in a row with a lead of 12 second the strategy paid off.
It wasn’t all without drama though as the car suffered fuel starvation coming out of the final corner of the race but finding enough in the tank to get us across the line. Colin Chapman would have been pleased with the amount of fuel we put in, just enough!
Again it was pretty cool to win with so many people there to support us, and by the sounds of it they recruited a few extra Hollyman Racing fans from the paddock hill grandstand.
After last season’s disaster we were slow to start in 2016, due to not having the car right after the crash and some teething issues with noise and power. But with all that behind us, we started the season off at our local and favourite, Snetterton.
All the competition decided to test on the Friday before the race, but we played it cool and tried to save some money by arriving Friday night for the hog roast and then go straight in to Qualifying Saturday morning.
Having been out of racing for more than a year we had fairly low expectations, especially now the very professionally run 968s have become the dominant force. On the lap timer I saw the fastest ever lap I’ve done at Snetterton mid session, so I was very pleased with how it went. The brakes started to fade towards the end of the session so a decision was made to take it easy and save the car for the race.
My fastest ever time of Sntterton put us 2nd overall on the grid, alongside the Feathers Motor Sport 968 and ahead of Steve Atkinson’s 968.
Now we had a taste of success in qualifying expectations were raised for the race, although the pole car was over a second faster. We made an excellent start, moving ahead of some of the GT4 competition in the race at the front. Eventually they all got out the way and we emerged as leader in the early laps.
We maintained a solid lead into a very early pit stop phase of the race. I came in when I saw the second place cars pit board go out, in an attempt to make sure they couldn’t jump me with clean air running. But they stayed out for an extra lap and had a chance. Our out lap and 1st flyer after the stop was the fastest of the race, which made sure we maintained the lead. With a trim of tyre pressures in the stops the car felt at its best but this wouldn’t last long as on a such a hot day and being pushed so hard by James Guess in the Feathers Motor Sport 968 the tyres went off in spectacular style.
The car went from understeer to oversteer and back again as we struggled to manage tyre temperature. With about 15 minutes to go James Guess finally got past into the last corner. We were able to utilise the power advantage and pull back ahead on the next straight. This would happen again on the next few laps, with me emerging as the leader and surely a frustrated James in the faster over a lap car behind.
Eventually James got past on the first hairpin which gave him a chance to pull a way a little as this was followed by several corners. James held the lead for a couple more laps, until he saw the mechanical warning flag for a fellow competitor and thought it was the red flag. As James lifted off we slipped back into the lead with only a couple of laps left we maintained the lead to the end. Taking our first ever overall victory, and giving us a 100% win record in 2016. Probably the hardest race of my life, 50 minutes of very hot sun and a battle from start to finish.
Unfortunately the video camera failed so we have no video of the race, just a few photos provided by a stranger over Facebook.
The next race is Brands hatch this weekend, where the 968s will have the advantage due to there being less long straights for me to use my power.
After the incident at Donington Park in June 2015 the 964 went off to be repaired. We finally got it back in December, just in time for the off season, so we couldn’t test the car until the middle of February when the weather looked a little better.
First of all the car now looks stunning, the paint job is excellent, and I don’t think the panels have ever been so straight since it left the factory. The only slight down side is we don’t have our full race livery from the previous few years still. The car is predominantly blue, with the bumpers, sills, wing and bonnet still in last year’s vinyl, which actually looks quite good.
It’s been good to have the car back in the garage, so the last few jobs before the 2016 season starts, such and brake pads, scruitineering checks and final tidy up.
We trailered the car down to our local favourite Snetterton, for a very cold Valentine’s Day track day. The day started with a damp track so we bolted on the full race wet Pirelli tyres, a luxury that many of our fellow track day drivers didn’t have. After the sighting laps in the C63AMG which included an MX5 in the Armco on the first corner of the out lap (muppet), we got on the with the day.
The first session started with another MX5 in the Armco at the same corner, then a 30 min clean-up for oil around most of the track. The rest of the day would go the same way with no more than 3 laps completed before the red flag would re appear.
Once we started to turn some laps we immediately got a slap on the wrists for being too noisy on the drive by meter. So with the noise, the many red flags and slippery track there wasn’t much significant running in the morning. But we did learn the car was very well put back together after the crash, no squeaks or rattles, and it seemed to handle very nicely too.
In the afternoon the track was dry, the sun was out and everything looked good. We bolted on the dry tyres (although several years old now), and went for it, although we had to go slowly past the drive by meter otherwise we’d be sent home.
As the lap times dropped an issue became apparent with the engine. The engine now would pull cleanly through the higher revs, we believe this is down to a fuelling or mapping issue. Any kind of misfire at top revs and full load can do serious damage to the very expensive engine, so we decided it was best to call it a day.
We believe the noise issue will go away at proper test days, and races, so we won’t be modifying the exhaust again, as that is all new. Hopefully the engine issue will be solved with a day on the rolling road. All in all the day was fairly successful, as we proved the major damage repair was good, and the car drove nicely.
Once the car has been on the rolling road and sorted, we’ll be doing more testing before the season starts.
I’ve been slow to update this post since Donington Park. I was punted off in the race, the other driver was deemed at fault by the Clark of the Course, and no real punishment was leveled.
The car hit the pit wall at the entrance to the pit lane at the end of the 5th lap of the race. The battle was for 2nd place overall and the other car involved was attempting to pit. Our 964 hit the wall at 77.6mph and caused severe damage to the LHS of the car. Every panel is bent, the door won’t open and the suspension is broken at the front and rear along with a drive shaft and steering rack.
The video shows the incident, it also shows the great start we made moving from 6th to 2nd by the first corner. We had every chance of winning this race and that was unfairly taken away.
The car is going to be out of action for a significant amount of time, and we will probably have to miss the rest of the season.
Unusually for AMOC the first race of the season was at Oulton Park. A circuit where we’ve had good results in the past but a daunting track which does not forgive mistakes.
We did two 30 minute sessions on Friday afternoon to get familiar with the track again and make sure the car is running ok for the race day on Saturday. Friday went well, and we did 2 laps in the 1minute 55second region, which would have put us on pole based on last year’s lap times. So we went away Friday evening pleased with the car and the pace we had.
Saturday was significantly cooler than Friday which effected grip levels for qualifying. Qualifying was good and we had several clear laps, we didn’t get into the ‘55s like Friday but very close. We ended up P6 for the race in the afternoon, with a lap time that would have been pole the previous year, so disappointed with the result but happy with the lap time. The Intermarque has moved on from 2014 and it seems everyone has improved either their cars or their driving.
We have improved the car (I like to think the driving is better too), we have upped the engine to 3.8 litres and fitted RSR+ camshafts. So we have significantly more power than last year, and therefore we have to move from class B to class E, the top class. So based on our new class we are expected to go for overall wins and podiums, rather than just class wins, no pressure then.
We made a good start from the rolling start, around the outside of the 2 GT4 Astons at the first corner then power past the white and red 968 of the two James Hilliard on the next straight. From P6 to P3 before the 3rd corner was impressive, but it was very surprising that the Ferrari 355 of Wayne Marrs and Aston V8 of Chris Scragg weren’t pulling away at the front. They both qualified significantly quicker than us. Chris was in the lead defending very hard which was slowing them both down and giving a chance to the chasing pack, led by us with the 968, GT4, and another 355 close behind.
Wayne eventually made a mistake trying to go around the outside of Chris at Old Hall which didn’t work and left the door open for me to come through the inside. We had 2 laps of pressurising Chris Scragg for the lead of the race. A very experienced Scragg knew exactly where to position his very wide V8 Aston and we couldn’t get through. We made the same error as Wayne had earlier in the race, and tried to go around the outside, this didn’t work and let through 3 cars on the inside. I crossed the timing line 0.7 seconds behind the leader that lap but was 5th, the front of this race was so close and the battling was so intense.
A GT4 Aston made a silly move up the inside of Wayne into a chicane which wasn’t on, he clouted the inside curb and speared into the back of Wayne spinning him out, and causing a reshuffle of the front of the pack, both cars involved continued on.
When the pit window opened, Wayne pitted immediately and we pitted the following lap, leaving Scragg and Lee Moulden fighting for the lead of the race. The early pitstop allowed us to put in some quick lap times to jump the still fighting Scragg and Moulden by the time they’d pitted. But the times weren’t quick enough to hold off Wayne in the 355, who came past in a daring move around the outside at Old hall, a move he couldn’t make on Scragg earlier in the race. Now the race had settled down in terms of gaps we still had Scragg catching from behind and back markers to contend with which occasionally bought us close to Marrs in the lead.
Eventually the race ended with Wayne Marrs winning followed by us in second and Chris Scragg in 3rd place. Our best ever race result in all series we been involved in. So we were very pleased to get the stand on the podium.
The next race is at Donington Park, which I’m sure will be just as close.