Porsche "4 Pot" Race Report Brands Hatch 29/30th August 2004
Car - 944 Turbo
I was fortunate that Oz, my bodyshop man in Leicester and Strasse had pulled out all the stops to get the car straight and back in one piece after the accident at Knockhill. Everyone including Gill and my dad had worked hard to get the car ready for the Brands Hatch Festival, could I deliver a good result.
Testing on the Saturday had been a mixed affair, with me making changes to each car and running half a session in each car. The 944 was not handling very well at all and I really struggled to get traction out of Clearways. The car was also grounding going along the pit straight, as well as through Paddock Hill. All was not well on the handling front.
Practice took place the next day and I seemed to have at least got a reasonable balance. The 4 pot race included the race for the class 4 944's from the Porsche Open as well as the GVR 968's, Tom McHugh in his 944 who having sat out the whole season was doing every event and my wing man Wayne Jackson in his 944T. Just before taking to the track Wayne pointed out the scoreboard above the Nigel Mansell centre which displays the six fastest competitors. As if I was going to have time to look at that.
Getting a clear lap was not too difficult, though on one particular lap I was hammering down to the braking area for Paddock Hill bend when a white 968 appeared from the pit lane exit. Let's just say that I had to brake a little more than normal otherwise the 968 would have been gravel collecting. I decided to drop back and took a look at the scoreboard. This showed cars 41 and 14 were in the top two positions, and I didn't even see my position.
I wasn't surprised as testing had showed that the 944 was no quicker than the 924GT. I decided that all I could do was keep plugging away in search of a faster time. In the end the faster time came but I'm not too sure where it came from. I thought I was about 4th on the grid but got back to the garages to be told i was on pole. The guys from Strasse were pleased, all i needed to do now was convert the pole position into a win.
The collecting area marshals waved me onto the track to start lining up on the grid. Somehow the instruction had been given early as there were still some of the other club members completing their 3 parade laps. I waited until the rear pace car had passed and set off for the grid. No one followed and i had dreams of being hauled up before the Clerk of the Course for taking to the circuit too soon. I then realised that the parade lap cars were going to have to drive into the pit lane, and the other competitors were being held in the collecting area. I don't suppose Strasse were too bothered as the whole crowd now only had one car to look at !
When the green flag dropped I led the cars round at a brisk pace before slowing for the approach to the grid. The red lights went out and I pressed on the loud pedal. Pete Morris in the 968 got a better start but as I selected second I started to make ground up and still had the inside line for Paddock. The turbo came in strongly and I felt the car start to rear end steer again. Nothing for it but to short shift into third which gave Chris Eggington the chance to move into second. It has to be said that this was not my plan.
At the end of the first lap I was still in third, but felt that I was holding up Wayne Jackson behind me. I decided to let him put some pressure on the GVR cars who were battling closely. Wayne drove closer to them and on lap 4 Chris Eggington slipped past Morris for the lead though Wayne could not find a way through. I waited for another couple of laps and then started to make my way to the front passing Wayne under braking for Druids. I watched the GVR antics for another couple of laps and weighed up where I would have the advantage. I initially tried to pass Pete Morris at Druids on lap 8 but he robustly defended the position and I ended up with two wheels off the circuit and the outside wheels just on the rumble strip. Hmm, I knew I would have to be more forcefull. Two laps later I repeated the move and got through clear. Next was Chris Eggington and I thought that I would be able to carry more speed towards paddock. For lap after lap I tried to pass in the braking area, apparently to much acclaim from the commentator, but never sufficiently to lay claim to the exit line. Eventually though I was past after tucking to the inside and staying to the right up to Druids. This gave Pete Morris the chance to sneak back into second.
I started to put in some solid consistent times, fast enough to stay ahead but not to extend a huge lead. The cars had different characteristics that resulted in similar laps times and both Pete Morris and Chris Eggington were chasing hard. With three minutes to go until the end of the race I went up to Druids and took the normal racing line as I had sufficient gap. Meanwhile Chris Eggington was determined to get the better of his teammate and went to the inside. He left his braking late, very late, so late in fact that he went straight on into my rear three quarters and spun me round. I got going again, but there was a scraping sound and I had to go into the pits. The rear wheel arch was fouling the tyre and it had to be levered clear. I rejoined the race and took the chequered flag in last place two laps down.
After the race Chris Eggington and I were called to the Clerk of the Course. After the interviews he decided to exclude Chris Eggington from the results. No good for him with the points put on his licence, but I took no no joy from that as I still didn't get the result I had earned.
Starting at the back for the second race was going to give me a challenge with so many class 4 944's to pass. I was on the pit lane side which was not going to be an advantage, and I had made further suspension changes to try and improve the car for the dash from the back.
At the race start I got away well, but was immediately baulked by the wall of 944's in front of me. I picked them off one by one, taking seven on the first lap, two on the second and three on the next lap. By now I was up to 5th, but Eggington had made a much better start on the outside and was already up to third. On lap 6 I passed Tom McHugh for fourth and was closing on the leading 3 cars but the suspension changes i had made were not working well and my pace started to drop at the half distance. In the light of my recent experiences I decided not to wring the neck of the car and risk having another off, so I settled for a comfortable if unspectacular 4th.
At the front of the field Wayne Jackson had taken the lead from the lights, and despite the attentions of Pete Morris held on to take the win. Well done Wayne on his first outright race win
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