24HR RACE FULL OF CHALLENGES - 5/10/10

Last weekend saw Ben's return to the track for the first time this season after a decision to concentrate on his running earlier in the year.

With the support of Reflex Nutrition (www.reflex-nutrition.co.uk) and Ben's current level of fitness the Silverstone 24hr race was the perfect place to test his physical development since last season.

Sharing a Nicholas Mee Racing Aston Martin GT4 with team regular Karsten Le Blanc, GT Open racer Sarah Bennett-Baggs and Ben's cousin Dan de Zille, the team managed to secure 27th (out of 60) on the grid in a very wet qualifying.

The race started under bright skies, but with the knowledge that the rain was not far away, and Karsten settled into his first stint with no real problems. The rain came as the day turned into night and unfortunately a mis judged stopped for wet tyres cost the team a few places, but with the rain now set in, and some consistent laps by all the drivers, the green Aston was upto 12th at the halfway mark. Unfortunately a number of issues (including pit to car radio problems and some contact from other cars) in the night meant  that by day break the team had been denied any further headway.

Ben's final stint in the car came at 10 o'clock on Sunday morning and with some good consistent laps from the other drivers in the early hours and Ben's consistency in the morning the team were on a 3 way battle for 10th spot. Just as the team were planning for Ben to pit for a fuel the bolt holding the seat in place sheared.

"Just as I was exiting the last corner past the pit entry my seat shot backwards. Unfortunately I was too late to dive into the pits so was forced to drive a complete lap with the seat moving around."

With a 10 minute delay to fix the problem Ben returned to the track in 12th position but quickly set about reeling those ahead in. Within 5 laps Ben had caught and passed the works Ginetta but the 10th placed Seat was lapping at the same pace half a lap ahead.

As the race approached the 20hour mark a large amount of oil was left on 50% of the circuit by a sick car and the conditions became very difficult. As the oil cleared Ben's pace picked up lap by lap, but unfortunately the oil was still in places and as Ben exited the first corner at midday he was caught out and span off the circuit and into the tyre wall.

"The car was not too badly damaged but as the marshalls dragged me out of the gravel they pulled me back into the tyre wall and damaged the car further."

A slow recovery to the pits cost the team vital time but with a great crew waiting they worked tirelessly and returned the car to the race with only an hour lost. Unfortunately this hour had cost the team 11 places and they were down in 22nd place with 3 hours to go. Despite some good laps by the other drivers this was to be the final position and despite the closeness to a top ten finish the team were still pleased to complete the race without too many issues.

"I was really impressed with the team, they did a great job of preparing the car and the pitstops were one of the quickest in the pitlane. It's just a shame for everyone that I had the incident otherwise a top 10 was definitely on the cards."

Despite the final position not being as good as the team had hoped for Ben came away from the race having learnt that his training and supplementation this year has put him in a great position for future endurance events.

Ben's next challenge comes on 7th November when he tackles the ING New York Marathon in aid of LIVESTRONG.

 

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