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.
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!
Early Saturday morning at Donington Park was dry and bright and looked ideal for a day’s racing for the AMOC Intermarque. Reports from people arriving at the circuit from the west seemed to indicate that thunder storms were coming our way, which they eventually did about an hour before qualifying. The rain stopped well before qualifying and the circuit looked to be drying at a similar rate to Oulton Park a few weeks earlier.
How wrong I was. The circuit didn’t look too wet but it was very slippery, and qualifying was a case of keeping it on the track and try to learn where the grip was. The times in the session were all over the place, with some cars electing (correctly) to use wet weather tyres, others (like myself) were struggling on dry’s. We qualified 15th, with our main championship rivals much further up the grid.
With a lot of ground to make up during the race we needed to be on the correct tyres, and an hour or more of torrential rain around lunch time made that decision an easy one, we went with wets.
We have never used proper wet weather tyres before so the first few laps of the race would be a step into the unknown, as we had no idea how much grip would be available, we also had to guess on pressures and suspension setup.
The lights stayed red for a very long time making the pack very bunched and moving very slowly. This allowed us to use the 911’s greatest asset, traction (with the engine hanging over the rear wheels grip off the start is brilliant). With others struggling to put their power down the 911 squatted down and took off. Making up about 5 or 6 places by the first corner. Then we had a tentative first couple of laps, I think it was down to having to build up tyre temp slower than normal as it was so wet and simply not knowing how much to push them.
We had made up several positions during the first half of the race, but our championship rivals were a long way up the road still. Around half way through the safety car came out and we took this opportunity to pit. We got a bit lucky here, as other cars had to be held at the end of the pits and a group of cars got stuck behind a slow moving car on track and didn’t catch the safety car up.
After the safety car we weren’t far behind our championship rivals, with Porsche team member Steve Atkinson and Wayne Marrs in his Ferrari 355 just ahead. Trouble with traffic and a lapped Aston Martin getting in the way meant we couldn’t move any further up the order. We eventually brought the car home 6th overall and 2nd in class.
The tittle battle is getting closer, with 3.35 points covering the top 4 cars, with Wayne Marrs on 94.6, Tim Mogridge on 93.5, Steve Atkinson on 92.5 and we are on 91.25. More importantly Porsche is still in the lead of the team championship.