SEASON FINISHES WITH A BANG - 14/10/08

SEASON FINISHES WITH A BANG - 14/10/08

After a rollercoaster season on and off the track the final race of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Donington Park finished in the same way as so many others. At the side of the track.

Having arrived at Donington with the hope that the engine problems that had crippled them all season had finally been cured Ben was upbeat about a finish to the season that he and team mate Guy Harrington had spent all year looking for. With the team having now run the engine without fault for 7 hours and the sun beating down on the Derbyshire track Ben and Guy set about re-establishing themselves back at the top of the timesheets. And with 3rd fastest time of the test day (Thursday) their mission appeared to be well underway.

The first set back, however, came when Ben complained of a terrible vibration under acceleration and braking on Saturday morning. With a few changes made blame was evenyuall found in a warped brake disc by which time 3o minutes testing had been lost. The rest of the session went without any problems but neither Ben or Guy were able to match the pace they had found on Thursday due to huge understeer problems caused by the front tyres.

Qualifying brought back the best from the duo with a time quick enough for 4th on the grid in difficult track conditions caused by sporadic drizzle in the air. With nothing to lose Ben was upbeat about the race ahead,

"It's been a tough season but the team are confident they have cured the engine worries and we have both been competitive during testing and qualifying. Tomorrow will be our last chance to get a result from a terrible season and I will be giving it everything to get us back on the podium before we head into the winter break."

Sunday morning saw a return of the sunshine and everyone was fired up for a good race and positive end to the season. As the lights went out Guy held position into the first corner but over the next few laps struggled for pace out of the corners and lost a few positions. By lap six he had been demoted to eighth but as the race settled down so did Guy's pace and he managed to climb back up to 5th by the half hour mark. Over the next thirty minutes Guy pulled away from the Championship winning Viper and started to reel in the Ferrari's in 3rd & 4th but just before the hour was up a safety car bunched the field up again and all the advantage was lost. With a very narrow window for refuelling (due to the heavy usage of the Lamborghini) the team were unable to use the safety car period for their mandatory pitstop until the very last minute.

With Ben in the car with a fresh set of tyres and full tank of fuel just after 60 minutes had elapsed the number 11 Lamborghini was in a respectable 7th place but as he left the pits Ben noticed smoke coming from the engine. He radioed into the team who told him to keep pushing.

"With a number of cars out of position due to the safety car and pitstops it was hard to know who to race and who was a backmarker," said Ben," but I just got my head down and tried to find my rhythm which was difficult as the car felt sluggish out of the corners and there was smoke visible in the rear view mirror."

With ten minutes of the second hour gone Ben reported the temperatures were higher than they should be and as he exited redgate for the 8th time the rear of the car came round on him.

"I knew then that the engine problem had returned as it was the same thing that happened to me at Brands Hatch when the engine expired."

Rejoining the track Ben reported smoke was filling the cockpit and he was instructed to bring the car back into the pits where he was pushed back into the garage and his race was over.

"It is very disappointing," said a subdued Ben afterwards, "we came here with the information that the engine would be fine and after the pace we showed in testing were confident we could claim the sort of result we became used to last year. The team have worked hard this year considering the engine problems they have had to work with and they bounce back each time with the same effort that I try to bring. It just wasn't meant to be out year."

With the 2008 season now over Ben will be spending some much needed time with his family over the winter months and plans for next season will be announced in the new year.

Ben would like to thank all those who have supported him this year despite the lack of results and in particular his sponsors whose support gives Ben the opportunity to compete at this level.

Partners

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