To compete and finish in the Britcar 24hr has been a dream of ours for some time – and this year we made a firm commitment to compete. The commitment of the team has seen us through – this is how we did it!
The core of the team travelled up to Silverstone on Wednesday evening so we could set up and test on Thursday. Testing went OK and we ironed out a few handling issues, trying to get a balance in the car that all 5 drivers were happy with. We had an electrical issue that was quickly fixed and thankfully never reoccurred and after some routine maintenance and getting the car scrutineered everyone present made their way to the pub for some food and a few hours off.
Day qualifying started at 12.30 Friday and all drivers qualified comfortably. We were classified 22nd out of 55 – we were happy with that, it would be our starting position in the race. No problems with the car so we waited for night qualifying after a quick spanner check.
Night qualifying went well, again all drivers qualified comfortably. Paul and Tim had never raced in the dark before so they were quite apprehensive – but they were happy with the way it went. The others had plenty of experience so no problems there – we were all set and looking forward for the race. The rest of the team had arrived by now so we had a late BBQ and some “team bonding”, with Tim on the grill doing a fine job with the meat fest, Paul’s iPhone providing the music and the fridge providing the light refreshment.
After the public pit walk we did some final preparation and the team manager decided we would push the car to the assembly area from the pit garages – this was a long way and not one of his better ideas! Paul was out first so he drove the car around from assembly to form up on the grid for the final public grid walk before the start of the race – tension and excitement was building.
The start went well seeing us in 25th after the first lap. Our strategy of keeping out of trouble and trying to put in consistent but mechanically sympathetic laps we were sure would pay off.
It was all going well, we found ourselves in a surprising top ten position for most of the race, reaching as high as 5th at times. We had no major issues with the car in the first 22 hours, then our luck ran out.
Our car lost drive down the the new pit straight and was towed back to the scrutineering bay – why they did that I don’t know because we were at the other end of the pits – so another long push was called for.
We suspected a clutch or driveshaft problem, which would have been manageable but it turned out to be a differential issue that was not fixable – a really unusual failure and really bad luck, but that’s endurance racing for you. Some quick thinking and a very generous offer from one of our competitors meant we could borrow a gearbox to finish the race so the mechanics had the challenge of getting it in the car and the car out on track before the chequered flag. We did it with 15 minutes to spare which was an impressive feat for the guys and one that was appreciated by all in the garage.
We finished in 19th place out of 43 classified finishers. We had completed 482 laps – a great effort.
The most important thing is that we were classified and we were running at the end of the race, which was our goal when we set out – a massive achievement for a small team like ours and a testament to the drivers and crew who bought the car home. Of course when you’ve been running so high up the classification everyone’s expectations rise – but in the end finishing was the most important thing and that’s what we did.
Well done everyone.
Drivers, in driving order, with their sponsors:
Paul Winter – Dorset Sports Cars
Tim Speed – Dorset Sports Cars
Pete Morris – PMC Midlands
Tim Raven – Stable Micro Systems
Graeme Mundy – Linden Plant
Dave – Team Manager
Andy – Race Engineer
Grant, Colin, Matt & Will – Mechanics, Refuellers and Assistants
Steve – Tweeter, Blogger & Fire Assistant
Thanks to Joy, Lee & Liz for keeping us fed and watered throughout the weekend.
A massive thank you to Marcus Fothergill for lending us the gearbox that allowed us to finish the race, without it we would all feel very different today so many, many thanks from all the team.
Thank you to the team who we shared our garage with; Motionsport. Your cooperation was much appreciated, your team spirit was an inspiration and it was a pleasure to share a garage with you.
A really big thank you to all the friends and family who have supported the team in our wish to race in the Britcar 24hr.