ROCKINGHAM DOESN’T ROCK FOR BEN – 27/5/08

Arriving at Rockingham for the Bank Holiday weekend after the disappointment of the race their last year meant Ben and team mate Guy Harrington were determined to make up for lost time.

Saturday testing did not go to plan with fuelling issues forcing the team out of the first practice session. Session two also had its problem the car suffering massive under steer – a problem that the team thankfully found a reason for by the end of the day.

Sunday morning warm up however, showed the true pace of the car and the drivers with very competitive times posted by both. Qualifying was also good considering the changing weather conditions with 8th for race one by Ben and 9th for race two by Guy.

Race one took place on Sunday and due to the extremely wet conditions was started behind the safety car. On lap 3 the safety car pitted and racing began. Ben quickly got into his rhythm and with cars spinning ahead was up to 6th place within a couple of laps behind his team mate in the #21 Gallardo.  With heavy rain and a slightly soft set up Ben held station for the first twenty minutes 3.5seconds behind the 5th placed Piers Johnson, but as the rain lifted and the track became more greasy than wet Ben’s true pace began to show and within 2 laps he had closed the gap down to just 0.2 of a second. Ben’s sudden injection of pace made him the quicker of the two Modena Gallardo’s and he began to look for his way past. As they approached the hairpin for the 15th time the team announced over the pit to car radio that both cars were to pit for driver changes at the end of the lap and that Ben was to hold station and not make a the move for 5th. As they approached the pit entrance Ben put a wheel on the painted white line and was sucked across the wet grass stopping with 2 wheels in the gravel. Unable to move race one came to a disappointing end as the clear pace of the car in the drying conditions would have surely led a to a good points finish.

With a dry track but distinctly heavy skies race two began on slick tyres for everyone and Guy got a great start to exit turn one  in 6th place only to be blocked at the hairpin and demoted back to 9th. The opening laps bode well for the pair as Guy held station as he battled amongst some very quick drivers and settled in to post consistent laps. However, the rain began to fall 5 laps in to the race and as the track became slippery the team made the decision to call Guy in for wet tyres – a gamble that would pay off if the rain persisted. Two other cars had the same idea and as they rejoined they were clearly much quicker than those on slicks. Unfortunately 5 laps later the rain stopped and those on slicks became quicker once more. With it not being logical to bring Guy in again before the driver change he was forced to lap well off the pace for a further 15 minutes and as Ben took the car (with some slick tyres) over they were two and a half laps down on the rest of the field. The weather continued to change and for half an hour Ben posted quick lap times for the variable conditions. With 10minutes left on the clock Ben had unlapped himself from a number of other cars and was one of the quickest cars on the track. At which point the rain started again and a spinner at the final chicane brought out a safety car. As the rest of the field past the pits Ben made a last ditch attempt to take an advantage and dived in to the pits for a set of wet tyres, rejoining on the same lap and losing no time. This was surely going to give the #21 car the chance of making up some places. However, in a final twist the lead car span behind the safety car and the clerk of the course made the call to end the race 8 minutes early for safety reasons – denying the team of a last chance at making up some places.

With no points from these two races the team now heads to Snetterton in two weeks time for rounds 7/8 of the championship. Hopefully lady luck will finally make an appearance.

Partners

carrefour cim 110sport sportsshots British GT Championship minister power auto lusso reflex