Topcats Racing are equipped to deal with every eventuality for a 24hr race and it was just well. It was a test of the teams skills that while most teams would have packed up their tools, Topcats were rebuilding crashed cars, engines and various components from the pit garage floor to get both cars to the finish line!
Right from the beginning, both Topcats Marcos Mantis cars were cursed with a swathe of punctures (5 in total) in the opening 2 hours of the race whilst all the other cars inexplicably got away scott free! This put both cars on the back foot with much work to try and regain their 7th and 8th place starting positions whilst still harbouring aspirations to finish in the top 3 overall.
Both cars had had diff rebuilds in preparation for the race but sometimes things are best left alone as a newly replaced bearing failed for car 17 driven by Joachim Bolting, Nigel Pike, Paul Black and Pat Gormley.
The team were well prepared though and a fresh diff was ready and waiting to be installed whilst the outgoing one was rebuilt straight away just in case! The lengthy stop dropped the team to the bottom of the leader board and would take several hours and into the night before they would start making significant ascent past the opposition.
Meanwhile, drivers of sister car No.15, Paul Stephens, Gerry Taylor, Owen O’Neill and Neil Huggins were very much in the mix and about to take class lead and back up to 9th overall. Taylor was at the helm to enjoy the mornings first daylight hours. Having caught the Speedworks Aston Martin, he passed on the inside before the pit entry whilst the Aston was wide on the outside. The Aston Martin cut sharply across the track to make the pit entrance but hit Taylor hard shunting him nose first into the pit wall.
The whole front end of the car incl. suspension was destroyed as was the top end of the engine and it took 4 hours and 30 minutes to rebuild. This was a quicker option than installing a whole new engine that was sitting in a box at the back of the garage. There was no question at all that the team would ensure both cars would cross the finish line and clinging on to the hope that there was still a chance of a class podium was enough motivation.
By now, Car 17 had moved into P2 in class behind the new V8 Marc Cars Australia.
A waiting game was all that was required for Car 15 in the end to steal P3 from the Marc Cars sister car which was taken out by its own stable mate on Sunday morning and had to retire. As that car gradually trickled down the leaderboard, Car 15 leapfrogged to take P3 in class on the last lap!
A fitting end to the race for the team was a formation finish for the sister Marcos cars as they crossed the finish line.
Team and drivers were delighted to have all 8 of its drivers on the podium to receive their trophies.
To view photo albums of the race please visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/garyharman/sets/72157649848266284/with/17095245910/ and
Report for the Trophy Race with Neil Huggins (Lamborghini Super Trofeo) and Steve Glynn (TVR Sagaris) to follow.