ENGINE PROBLEMS OUT - BACKMARKER PROBLEMS IN - 18/08/08

Silverstone brought the first of two double length (2hour) races that will bring the 2008 British GT season to an end. With strong showing in the same event at Snetterton last year Ben was confident that his high level of fitness would see him benefit over a number of the opposition during this intense test of endurance on driver, team and car.

With the engines back from the supplier at the last minute there was no time for any installation laps during the 3 one hour test sessions on Friday so Saturday morning brought the first proper running for the car. With the engine appearing to be running well the team set about finding a suitable set up on the car for both qualifying and the longer than usual race distance. During the one hour fifteen minute morning test both Ben & Guy struggled for grip in the car despite a number of major changes being made - the blame later being placed on the tyres which had been subject to a coolant leakage early in the season.

Qualifying  therefore brought an element of the unknown and due to lack of information from the morning test the car set up created extreme understeer and Ben was only able to post 10th fastest time with Guy 12th fastest after a scarey moment through Bridge corner. With both times being used to determine the grid position Ben would start Sundays 2 hour race in 11th.

"It is disappointing," said Ben, "with the engines appearing to be strong we would have hoped for a top four grids place but set up problems have prevented that. It's a 2 hour race though so we should be able to make up some places and challenge for points at the very least."

Guy was equally disappointed,"I've never been that scared in a race car before. At every corner I thought it was going to throw me off. It will be impossible to complete a race distance like that."

With some changes having been made (but untested) the race started under scattered clouds with a chance of rain suspected at some point over the following two hours. As the lights went out Ben got away well but was forced onto the dirty side of the track at turn one causing him to drop to twelth, but a good sequence of corners followed and Ben was upto 9th by the end of the opening lap. With the oversteer dialled out successfully Ben started to plan his attack on the 8th placed Cadena DBRS9 and on lap 4 made a bold move out of Copse to steal another place. By now there was a 4 second gap to the lead group of seven cars but Ben got into a great rhythm and was consitently lapping 0.3 seconds quicker than those ahead. By lap 16 the lead group had split into 2 and Ben was up with the CRS Ferrari of Meadows and the Jones brothers Ascari. At the half hour mark the three were in a great battle for 5th and swapping positions every lap, but there were catching the Ferrari of Burton, who was by now 2 laps down after and spin and drive through penalty. 

For the next ten minutes the three cars battling for fifth were subject to some severe blocking from Burton which lead to several close moments. It appeared that Burton thought he was fighting us for position despite the waved blue flags. With alomost 40 minutes gone Meadows and Jones made the move stick on Burton through the first two corners of the lap and as the 4 cars came through Bridge corner Ben got a good run on Burton into Priory, sliding the Gallardo up the inside to take the place. But Burton chose to try and outbreak the faster car and turned across the front of Ben's car. With no where to go Ben tapped the door of the Ferrari and the pair span together. As Ben got going again the car felt light at the front and so he dived into the pit lane for it to be checked. Unfortunately the contact had damaged the radiator and Ben was forced to retire.

"It is ridiculous that a car not on the lead lap can be allowed to defend faster cars for that long without being penalised. There were several waved blue flags at some corners but not at others." said Ben afterwards. "This just sums up our season in a nutshell. I know the move was quite forceful but if I didn't get past the backmarker then I would have lost touch with the leaders and been out of the race anyway. I should not have been put in that position in the first place."

The final round of the Championship will be at Donington in October where Ben & Guy will be hoping they can at least finish the season with some of the success they have experienced in previous years.

With such a large break between races Ben is looking at options for the Britcar 24hour race at Silverstone in September. More details will be posted as they are available.  

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