Silverstone Sep 2005
The Britcar Silverstone 24hr race was the first time in years that a 24hr race had been held in the UK. The entry list was a who's-who of Motorsport with a fantastic array of cars, and plenty of experienced 24hr race teams from Europe. Some 55 cars started the race. Although early in September, the weather was absolutely horrendous with torrential rain, forked lightning and very cold temperatures! Unusually for Silverstone, there was a noise issue for most cars. As the race was at the weekend, and running overnight, this was only possible if the cars were silenced to near road car levels! We had tested our car, and it met the requirements of the race. However, minutes before qualifying, we were retested and told we were over the limit! We had absolutely no time to find a sensible solution, and were forced to fit Supertrapp silencers on the end of the exhaust. Whilst these solved the noise problem, they also created a new problem by increasing exhaust gas temperatures to the point that within 4 laps of qualifying we lost the engine due to ring failure. This was the worst possible thing that could happen. Despite this, we still managed to qualify 23rd overall and 12th in class, with a time of 2:10.003 on the GP circuit. What a nightmare. The team worked all day to fit the spare engine in time for night qualifying. This was in itself an event as the weather was so bad, it had to be cancelled part way through! The next day, we prepared for the race itself. Ed Moore and Tony Rodriguez were joined by Jeff Wyatt and Matthew Truelove, both of whom had extensive experience of 24hr races at the Nurburgring and Spa. Tony had the dubious honour of starting in conditions that would make you think twice about driving if you were on the road! Each driver had to perform 2hr stints, which is no mean feat. Tony's first stint saw him bring the car in running 19th and posting lap times within the top-ten quickest cars. This was really encouraging as he handed over to Jeff Wyatt.
A 24hr race is such a race of attrition, and anything can happen - and it did. Part way into Jeff's stint, we suffered a driveshaft failure. He managed to return to the pits, and what should have taken 20 minutes to fix took nearly 1hr due to sheared bolts. Back out, we carried on the fight, rotating drivers every 2hrs. We had several other issues with drive shafts, visits to the gravel, contact from other cars, punctures. All-in-all we finished 25th overall and 6th in class. The whole event was great from our point-of-view as it was the first time the car really had extensive running, and at least we were able to prove the reliability of so many components. The best lap we posted was 2:04.740, just 0.9 seconds behind the class best. The car took such a beating in the 24hrs, which is the equivalent of a whole race season that it was back in the workshop for an almost complete rebuild! Bad luck again, but a satisfying overall result in the end. Tony did the last stint to get the chequered flag. He said he was more nervous in the last stint than the first one as the team had come so far, that he just wanted to make sure nothing broke and he didn't make any mistakes to be sure it finished!!