Hot and not bothered
After a three-week break, this weekend’s GT Championship double-header at Castle Combe was set to be a key point in the season. After 4 wins and a second place in 5 rounds, Jamie was holding a 7 point lead, but with a max of 7 points available in each race for a win and fastest lap, we couldn’t afford any slip ups.
With a fresh approach to qualifying, Jamie set off hard in the Golf TCR, but an early red flag halted the fun. Once underway again the times tumbled and the final two laps were our fastest ever at under 1:09.2 – almost a second clear of our nearest rival. Post qualifying data review by our race engineer from Zest showed a rolling lap of 1:08.9, boding well for the race and proving that we’re getting there with the geometry setup and the new Ohlins damper settings.
Track and car temperatures soared through the morning, so tyre management was going to be an issue in the race. A great rolling start generated an initial gap from the pack behind and put us in, what turned out to be, race-long contention with the immense Audi R8 V10 LMS car of Keith Butcher. The pace was high from the gun and Jamie broke the Class D lap record twice in succession while defending from Ilsa Cox in her hugely powerful Seat. Ilsa then took the record back on one final attacking lap, before settling back for second. The Seat dropped away as the heat once again took its toll, and the breathing space should have given us more pace, but this time the Yokohama slicks were crying “enough” and threatening to give up at every corner as we hounded the Audi to the finish. Lucky Kiera won the race in another great performance in his McLaren 650, once again getting the better of Kevin Jones’ Noble.
The second race was even hotter than the first, but we went to the grid with a fresh(ish) set of Dunlops, sun blinds for the car and a brolly for the driver! With Ilsa’s Seat not taking the grid we should have had a great run at some fast times, but an exploding Peugeot 205 in the preceding race put an oil slick down into Camp corner, and while the marshals made a great job of dressing it, lap times would be down for all (+2 seconds for some) as this approach is critical to maximising speed all the way to Quarry.
This was, however, the least of the worries for the front runners at the rolling start though, as the slightest of contacts with David Krayam in the first kink put Lucky Kiera into the barrier and back across the track. Jamie went to the right onto the grass to avoid the McLaren in time to see the Viper fly across in front too, but thankfully, he got between the two following when the red flag was called.
After an uncomfortable 10 minute wait in the car on the grid, and the loss of another few pounds in fluids while the crew extracted grass from the grills, the race was finally underway again. Even with grassy tyres we had another great start and had an overlap with Butcher’s Audi going into Folly on the first lap, but the risk was too high and Jamie had to tuck in behind. This was how the race stayed to the flag with the gap between the Audi and Golf fluctuating from 0.7 to 1.5-seconds. Kevin Jones took the win from Ollie Bull in his amazing spaceframe Tigra silhouette, and the pair are now tied in second for the championship.
Overall it was another pretty successful weekend for the Ramair Golf, and with two wins and a fastest lap, the Championship lead has grown to 11 points with three races to go. Massive thanks to Racetruck UK for providing the vehicles and logistics to get us to the circuit, made more challenging now by the decision to take the Seat along as a spare car to ensure that whatever happened we took the grid. The trusty Eurocup car sat there unused on the trailer like a bridesmaid at a wedding, but did its job of providing an insurance policy.
We’re off to Anglesey next with the Seat for the Classic Sports Car Club New Millennium races on 20/21st July, and then it’s the summer break before the last double-header of the Season at Combe on the August Bank Holiday 26th. You can follow our progress on race days on www.TSL-timing.com Just find the circuit we’re at, check the event timetable and then watch the live timing stream when the race starts.