Its been a long time since our DNF at the final round of the AMOC intermarque 2014 championship at Snetterton, but we finally got our engine off to Richard Chamberlain at CTR for a strip down and investigate the cause of the failure.
Richard reported back quickly that a cylinder head had cracked, and he was surprised that it hadn’t fallen off the engine completely. By the time we had sourced a cylinder head from fellow competitor Stephen Archer Richards had reported back again that the engine has further damage, caused by detonation, so we also needed to get hold of a new set of pistons and barrels. Richard is well under way with building us a shiny new engine for this years Intermarque championship.
The Yellow Peril is also with Richard, last time out testing it wasn’t making power and was getting very hot at the rear. He has since changed some burnt out plug leads, and changed the map slightly, and it made good power on the rolling road. Richard has since tested it at Brands Hatch and it reportedly overtook a 458, but he was pinged for noise. So a new silencer is needed.
So both race cars are being seen to over the winter, but we’re excited about the coming season and Mum has just put a deposit on a new 997 Cabriolet.
Going into the final race of the season 4 of us were still in with a chance of winning the overall championship and the teams championship would likely come down to Porsche vs Ferrari.
We had a great day of testing on Friday, going through race setup, qualifying runs and scrubbing in tyres for the race.
Saturday morning qualifying went very well, with a long circuit and pre scrubbed/pressure set tyres we decided to go for a continuous run and get in as many laps as possible with out a pit stop for pressure adjustment. This turned out to be a good decision as the fastest lap came on the final lap of qualifying. Setting a 2:14.3 this was the fastest we have ever been around the 300 layout at Snetterton. This put us 11th on the grid, pretty good considering how many 355’s and GT4 astons there were.
The start of the race was awful, who ever was on pole decided to not set a reasonable pace from the last corner to the rolling start, this meant we were flat out from russel corner to the braking zone at the first corner, completely removing a “racing start” from the equation. That made the first corner pretty dull, but the second corner we had caught up the others and managed to overtake at least 3 cars at the hairpin, (all of which re overtook us later on).
The first few laps were pretty frantic, with cars settling into their natural pace and moving up and down the order. We lost out to the quick James Guess 968 and a GT4 Aston pretty soon. The field seemed to bunch up behind the Tim Mogridge 355 as he was defending hard from a GT4 and 968. A gap at the quick corner Hamilton opened up and we went for it, but this put us on the outside for the slow hairpin immediately afterwards. A consequence of racing fair and not squeezing the 355 we were stuck on the outside and left with nowhere else to go and compromised exiting onto the long back straight allowing through the 968 of Steve Atkinson.
So around 10 minutes in we had all our championship rivals ahead, but close apart from Wayne Marrs who was well up the road now.
The next lap Wayne limped his 355 into the pits, so the championship was wide open again. With the bigger multiplier for the slower Porsche’s we could afford to sit just behind Tim in the 355, but really we needed to beat Steve in the 968. Reportedly the commentators announced at this point there was only 0.1point in the championship between all 3 of us.
We pitted at the earliest opportunity following into the pits the Atkinson 968. We matched each others pit stops and now the race was on to see who could be top of Class B at least and maybe snatch the championship away from Tim.
At this point we were able to follow Steve pretty closely, but unable to make a move as we were struggling up the straights, so we weren’t close enough in the braking zones. Normally a 964 would be quicker than a 968 on the straights, but we weren’t, something wasn’t right with the car. To keep up with Steve we were using all the curbs and some grass too, and this was causing problems with the knock sensor. The extra vibration from running on the grass was similar to the engine knocking, so it was retarding the ignition and cutting power, this was on top of the slow speed on the straights. This got very bad one lap so we dropped back from Steve and the plan changed to just nurse the car home. Then a couple laps later in stopped very suddenly and that was the race, the championship and the season over with.
This gave the championship win to Tim Mogridge in the 355 Ferrari and Steve Atkinson won class B in his 968, so well done chaps, but next year we’ll take those trophies off you both.
Sorry for the delay getting the Silverstone BDC post up, I’ve had to wait for the photos, and I didn’t think the post would be complete without them. Also the results remained provisional until the Tuesday after the meeting, so it all became clear after that.
Saturday morning was fine and bright and the paddock was full of optimism before qualifying, with most drivers wanting to prove that they weren’t the cause of the poor driving standards at Brands Hatch. We had a tough qualifying session, we couldn’t get the speed out of the new Dunlops that we had previously with the Toyo’s. I’ve been told they will get better after the first session, but I’ve yet to see it.
We were 9 tenths slower than earlier in the year, but this could have been down to temperature or setup. We qualified 15 out of 17, with only 2 slow Astons behind us. We were very disappointed to be this far back and things could only get better during the race.
Our qualifying session was early in the day and during the rest of the qualifying it rained, it rained a lot. With a big sense of déjà vu most of the intermarque competitors spent the morning looking at the sky. It was very wet in the morning, but during lunch and the first race of the afternoon it was drying up. The circuit looked dry enough for dry tyres, but with the area surrounded by menacing black skies it was a tough choice. We went to the assembly area on wet tyres, a choice only 2 other teams made, the Snowdon DB4 and the Scragg V8.
As we left the assembly area onto a now dry track the heavens opened, big time!
With the change of conditions it necessitated 2 green flag laps for the drivers to familiarise themselves with the track. This also allowed time for the quicker teams to change to wets without loosing a lap.
So from our grid position of 15th we took the start of the race 7th, behind some of the brave drivers sticking with dry tyres and the 2 Astons on wets. By the end of the 1st lap we had moved up to 3rd position overall. After the second lap I felt the race should have been red flagged already, the car was aquaplaning down the straights and we even had a trip across the grass, luckily there was no damage. It felt like we were doing 30mph but we started lapping back markers on the 3rd lap so I can’t of been going as slow as some.
Eventually the race was red flagged and we parked up on the grid. The heated windscreen was switched on, which meant the engine wouldn’t restart if it was switched off. The heater draws to much current from the battery for the starter motor to spin, so I made the choice to leave the engine running for the duration of the red flag. To be honest, I thought the red flag wouldn’t last too long before the race was abandoned. The rain wasn’t letting up so I assumed the race would be called off soon.
Luckily Silverstone being a Grand Prix circuit the drainage is very good and after the initial deluge the rivers running across the track went away and the race was restarted under safety car. After the pit stops and the safety car period the race hotted up, and for several laps there was an epic battle for the lead, we even held the lead at a couple stages. Once the more powerful cars got to grips with the conditions they started to get faster and pull away. We started to loose positions.
Eventually the race ended with a breath of relief. Another wet race this season and the car in one piece. But post race the results looked wrong, so a trip to the stewards was made.
When the red flag came out the time keepers reset the clocks, but the marshals didn’t grid the cars, so we had lapped cars in amongst the lead cars and they were now scored as the same lap. This was an error, the officials should have either left the clocks running, with the lapped cars staying laps down, or they should have re gridded the cars after the clocks were reset.
Since neither of these were done the results needed to be calculated adding the first half of the race to the second. Using this method we were 4th overall and 1st in class. Importantly we beat Tim and Steve, which really helped our championship effort. Porsche also moved back in front of Ferrari by 0.95 points. So there is everything play for at Snetterton and 3 championships to be won class B, Individual overall and teams.
The double header weekend at Brands Hatch is always going to be a difficult one for us, a big Aston Martin festival with a chance race on the GP circuit always attracts big grids with everyone wanting to win a race in front of a big crowd. With 7 Aston GT4s and several new Ferrari 355’s on the grid we struggled in qualifying. We managed a low 55 second lap, which is the fastest lap we’ve ever done at Brands on the Indy, but it left us 21st on the grid.
We were using Dunlop tyres for the first time, which changed the handling of the car. We went with a different suspension setup for the race in an effort to make the car work better on the tyres. This made the car feel better in the race.
We managed to make up several positions on the first lap, using the outside line at druids curve and managing to out-brake the people lining up on the inside. Over the next few laps the race settled down pretty quickly with big groups forming as lap times were so similar.
The race became slightly disjointed with lots of incident, spins and contact. With cars lying across the track we made up and lost some positions and eventually lost ground on our class rivals.
We were heading for a reasonable result when the heavens opened. Clearways and Surtees were much more slippery than the other end of the circuit, and lots of cars managed to slide off the circuit, after seeing 2 Ferrari’s spin off in tandem in front of us, we managed to keep it just about on the track, then we slowed down the a crawl for the last couple of laps, with a massive sigh of relief when the chequered flag came out. We came home in 8th overall and 2nd in class.
Since the car felt pretty good on the Indy circuit we decided to leave the car unchanged for the Grand Prix layout on the Sunday. Qualifiying went well, the car felt very good, and we used the full 25minutes of the session to re-learn the circuit. We went 1 second quicker than we did in the race last year, so we were pleased. Unfortunately this left us 20th on the grid with lots of work to do again in the afternoon.
The start wasn’t as good as Saturday’s with the lead group taking the start much faster and leaving the cars lower on the grid far behind. The race was shaken up by an early safety car caused by the retirement of Wayne Marrs and Steve Atkinson, 2 of our close championship rivals. This meant the whole safety car line came into the pits at the same time, causing chaos in the pit lane. We very narrowly avoided contact with 2 Aston GT4s but we made up several positions in the pits. Unfortunately we were held up behind a car that was unable to catch the safety car, which left us around ½ a lap behind class rivals. We had some good close racing towards the end, just missing out on 13th to a Ferrari on the line by 0.09seconds. We finished 14th overall and 2nd in class. We have now finished 2nd in class at every race this season!