Porsche Club Race Report Snetterton 12/13th June 2004
Car - 924 Carrera GT
Testing the previous day had been limited to say the least. We were there on time for the first session, and the car felt good, but after 3 laps there was tell tale white smoke from the exhaust. For the first time for a long time I suffered a head gasket failure, nothing else to do than to spend the whole day removing the head and replacing the gasket.
We finished at 11pm and had the luxury of Norfolk fish and chips at midnight. It filled a hole but confirmed my beliefs that decent fish & chips can only be found within 60 miles of Leeds.
The next morning I had to make an early morning phone call to Colin Ingram to ask if he had some tools & gaskets I needed. Three of the four wastegate studs had broken and I needed a new gasket for that joint as well. I judged it just right & called them after they had got up but before they left home.They brought me all the bits I needed and I was able to finish the car off in time for qualifying. Thanks again Janet & Colin, you are both very kind people, and I know you still have a soft spot for 924GTs.
The lack of running the previous day showed in practice as I struggled to set a decent time and found the very important Coram to be a complete nightmare. I qualified well down in 16th place overall behind Ragdan El-Akabi and Richard Harrison and alongside Alvaro Crego. My strategy was to finish the race and get a better position for the second race tomorrow.
Ragdan was very keen at the start, but I got an absolutely fabulous start losing no places at all to the 911s and getting in front of Alvaro. Entering Riches all was calm but Harrison started to rotate on the exit as he applied power and after 4 changes of direction, finally lost control and went to the outside of the circuit stopping a few cars without actually hitting any of them I lifted but went through and had an open track in front of me. So far so good.
I closed up on the leading pack through the Esses but lost ground through the Bomb Hole and Coram. Mark Rogers slowed along the pit straight so I passed him and took another step forward into 4th in class. Marcus Holden had a spin at the Esses and i passed him but within a couple of laps he retook the position and passed me down the Revett Straight. I now had a gaggle of cars behind me who were all closing at the end of the straight. This was just like Silverstone where the car was getting warm and losing power. I chased Colin but he just powered away from the Bomb Hole and the recovering Mark Rogers made a move on me at Russell and simply drove away. This was getting frustrating, it was clear that the only place i would be going now was backwards. Mark didn't finish the race though due to a mechanical problem.
Alvaro was next, passing me on the run to the Bomb Hole. I stayed with him all the way round to Sears but then he simply disappeared into the distance. Even though I was well off my normal pace I still lapped two cars on lap 10 and lapped Chris Berry on lap 11. I was really trying to stay with the cars in front and could see that Alvaro had caught Colin. If the car had been better on the last third of the lap I might have had a chance of joining the fun but the car just didn't have the speed in her that day. Alvaro passed Colin and for a couple of tantalising laps I thought Colin might fall into my grasp. He slowed on the exit of Russell on the final lap and I closed to within a car length. I couldn't get to him under braking and chased him for the rest of the lap planning to get him on the entrance to Russell.
Meanwhile the leaders had caught me at precisely that point and I had no choice but to let them through so that I didn't interfere in the race result. This meant that Chris Eggington was in front of me but he didn't pass Colin before the chequered flag. The video has to be bleeped at this point because that meant Colin had another lap to do and I didn't. My chance was over and I had to settle for 6th, never knowing if I would have made the extra place back.
Race 2 grid slots were determined by the finishing order on the Saturday, overnight I had changed the metering head, (thanks Alvaro) mixture and suspension settings in an attempt to gain some more pace.
I started 11th so to some extent yesterdays strategy of getting a better position for race two had worked well. More importantly I was also in and amongst all the other class two cars . The lights went out, Alvaro and I bogged down while Ragdan shot through from behind. By the time we were exiting Sears I had drawn level with Colin Ingram and took the place I wanted yesterday. Ragdan was next and I hustled him through Coram. The car was running and handling better. Craig Rapp came through from the back and passed Ragdan under braking for Sears. I was unable to follow through and the superior power of the RS showed down the straight. Nothing for it but to monster the kerbs at The Esses. I did and dived to the right to avoid hitting Ragdan. Yes I was past.........no I wasn't as third gear crunched and refused to go in. I had the inside line and forced my way through at the Bomb Hole. The time spent behind Ragdan had cost me track position but I relentlessly pushed to see if I could latch onto the leading pack.
With consistently decent laps I soon had no-one behind but didn't seem to be making an impact on the cars in front. , the only action being the lapping of some of the class 3 cars. On the 20 minute mark I came across a car at Russell. I thought it was Ian White as it looked red in colour when he rejoined. There were about 7 laps to go and it seemed that i didn't have a race on at all. How wrong I was. The car behind was in fact Richard Lambert and unbeknown to me I was actually up to third in class. Those last 5 minutes were very telling though. I was having to short shift again due to the high temperature and slowly but surely Richard caught me and I had to go defensive. I caught two class 3 cars at the Esses (again) and lost more time, Richard was really on my case now and one lap later he was able to get level with me under braking for The Esses and pass me on the outside just like Colin Broster had a couple of years ago. I closed back up with him at Sears but it was clear that I still had a straight line disadvantage. Meanwhile our battling had allowed Mark Rogers to catch us and he closed up as I overcooked it under braking for the second half of the Esses.
He drew alongside at Riches, but I wasn't concerned as I had the inside line. Mark left his braking really late and simply cut across me. I had to lift, but got straight back on the power. He was slow through Sears, but quick down the straight as my car struggled. Yet again I monstered The Esses and closed up as Mark almost left the circuit. I pushed him through The Bombhole, through Coram, under braking for Russell and on the exit. He was oh so close to the limit of adhesion but somehow kept it all together. Now it was simply a drag up to the chequered flag. I slipstreamed him and dived out as late as I could to the music of pinking from the engine as I held onto the gears thinking "sod it if I have to put another head gasket in". He kept 4th I had to settle for 5th, separated by less than 0.2 second.
It was so frustrating dropping from a podium finish, the car obviously still needed the fuelling setting up properly but there was hope again.
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