Posted by Latest News | Posted on 23-04-2012| Posted in
Tricky weather conditions at the weekend dealt varying degrees fortune and misfortune for the team at Donington.
All the drivers, Huggins, Fletcher, O’Neill and new driver to the team, Marcus Weller could not escape at least one excursion into the gravel traps. A combination of the notoriously changeable track conditions owing largely to the fuel pollutants from East Midlands Airport next door, changing weather from dry to wet and vice versa was a challenge for even the most adaptable drivers.
Dry weather for qualifying allowed the sister Marcos’ to compete head to head with their more technically advanced counterparts. The Morcillo/Cintrano/White Mosler took pole position with the Bailey/Schultz Ferrari 430 in 2nd, 2 of the new Ginetta G55’s ran in tandem for 3rd and 4th position and the Radical SR2 qualified half a second ahead of the Topcats Class 2 Marcos driven by O’Neill /Huggins in 6th and claiming class pole. Weller/Fletcher qualified 7th in the team’s sister Class 2 Marcos.
The team were pleased with the qualifying results as the class 1 Ferrari 458 of Phillips/Storey were behind them in 9th and the fast paced Lotus Evora of Green / Byford in 8th. The similarly spec’d Marcos Mantis of Team Tiger could only manage 10th but failed to start the race because of a blown engine.
A vigilant start from both drivers, Fletcher and Huggins, allowed them to maintain their positions in the opening laps. An uncharacteristic error from Fletcher saw him take a frightening downhill excursion on the grass and through 2 gravel traps with a heart stopping air kiss with the tyre wall and no apparent damage. Fletcher rejoined the track allowing the team to evaluate as he sped past the pits and carry on. Everything seemed OK but dash warning lights alerted Fletcher to a problem and he was forced to pit to allow the team to have a closer look. A quick inspection underneath showe that the oil pipe had been pulled and a few minutes were lost to make repairs and take the opportunity to put Weller into the driver’s seat to start his middle stint early to avoid having to make another unnecessary pit stop. Huggins meanwhile was running event free.
A high oil temperature reading had Weller back into the pits just a handful of laps later but reassurances from the team that all was OK had Weller back on track with minimum downtime.
By now, Huggins was finding the sweet spot with his car and setting his best lap of 1.09.766 making him the 4th fastest car on track. As Huggins came in to pit for the first of 2 stops to hand over to O’Neill, the timing screens scrolled him up to 3rd overall before pitting on the next lap.
Weller was soon putting in some very fast laps, threatening to overthrow Huggins in the timing stakes several times until eventually Weller pipped Huggins by 300ths of second with a lap time of 1.09.736.
O’Neill was having his strength of character tested now that a heavy shower soaked the track and he had to remain out on slick tyres for some time until he was due in for the final scheduled pitstop. O’Neill did not deviate from the tricky task of keeping the car on track. He was relieved to hand back to Huggins in 5th overall.
Weller had done a fantastic job to get the car back up to 17th to hand back to Fletcher. Fletcher was contrite but determined get a result out of what had been a mixed race. Despite the rain Fletcher opted to remain on slicks as the weather was clearing.
Fletcher would undoubtedly have enjoyed his run had it not been for another lengthy safety car period which stifled the majority of his drive.
Huggins had to complete the remaining hour of the 3 hour race. Huggins would have relished the opportunity to challenge Weller’s lap time as this would have given him an extra point for fastest class lap but the track conditions conspired against him. Instead Huggins / O’Neill would take full points for class win as they crossed the finish line.
The final sector of the race was a sprint to the finish line for Fletcher as he moved up from 17th to 14th and more importantly in position to take points for 3rd in class at the finish.
The next round is at Snetterton on 12th May.