Porsche Club Race Report Snetterton 12/13th June 2004
Car - 924 Carrera GT
This was the second visit to the Norfolk circuit in 2004, and unusually there were two meetings, one each day and so two practice sessions.
Testing the previous day had been more productive than the visit 3 weeks earlier where I spent the whole day doing the head gasket. This time I decided to concentrate on suspension setup, having had the fronts revalved after I ran out of adjustment at the last meeting. After a good first setting I then started to try and tweak the settings, but frustratingly all I seemed to succeed in doing was make the car handle worse, to the point where it was almost undrivable around Coram. After making further changes by lunchtime I was almost back where I started. The afternoon session was spent in going completely the opposite way that I expected and the car improved. By the end of the day the lap times were reasonable, but somehow still short of the last visit.
Official practice was late on Saturday morning and I was grateful for the snap shower that brought cooler denser air into the area. The track dried almost instantly in the summer sun. After two laps to get some heat into the tyres I was immediately on the pace and seemed to be making good times. I say seemed, because the pit board had been left in the 944 and so I had none of the usual pit signals from Gill. I saw Rob Williams behind, catching me and decided to have a slow lap to allow the temperatures to fall and then give chase. It seemed to work as he did not pull away from me, and after one more lap I decided to call into the pits to make a minor engine adjustment. Chris Sargeant kindly made the tweak and I was about to set out for another lap when the chequered flag came out. The session ended after 15 minutes, not 20 as I thought. Oh sugar !
I was not too happy to discover that I was 6th in class, but more disappointed to learn that I was slower than the last meeting, there was also a little niggle at the back of my mind that the car was suffering from fuel surge coming out of Russell. At least that's what I hoped it was, it felt disconcertingly like a big end bearing just beginning to run and sieze......
Qualifying 13th (or 12A as they call it in the collecting area) meant that I was on the inside track, next to the pit wall. Alvaro Crego was just ahead of me with Ragdan Al-Akabi on the row behind. Driving a class 1 2.7RS I knew he would be quick off the line.
The lights changed, Ragdan shot past me in the middle and Alvaro, after initially starting well got away so slowly that I had to brake to avoid hitting him. By now the track had cleared which gave me a good view of the shuffling taking place through Riches. Alvaro sneaked through, and I was able to take advantage of this to pass him on the inside at Sears. Good, I was already up to fourth. I stayed close enough to the front to see a cloud of dust at the Esses. John Williams had been a little ambitious on cold tyres and took an off track excursion, almost all the way to Norwich. He came back on track in front of me and squirmed his way through the Bombhole and Coram before making another mistake at Russell and going off circuit again. Snetterton sand is obviously grippy stuff as he came back on circuit again. For the next lap I tried to stay with the lead cars but started to drop back, and the cars behind rapidly closed. Meanwhile Tom Segrue had retired and I was up to third. By the time the second lap was complete what had been an occasional splutter had turned into something much more serious. Two further slow laps saw me drop into the jaws of Fraser Robertson in his class 3 944 as he stayed with me down the straight and then pushed home his advantage round Coram. The remainder of the race consisted of me simply short shifting to reduce stress on the car and keep out of everyone's way. One highlight was getting lapped by the battling 968's of Morris and Eggington. At the front of the race they were battling hard, neck and neck all the way.
I finished 5th in class, 16th overall and determined to check the metering head and injectors ready for the next day, and also make some further suspension mods. The injectors proved to be fine, but as suspected the metering head had "gone off", so I swapped it for a new one I was carrying round , courtesy of Alvaro Crego.
After setting the mixture by ear my prime concern was to make sure that the car was not running lean and temperatures did not rise. Immediately the car felt better and I could feel the suspension changes had improved turn in. Somehow I managed to find clear trackspace and spent much of the session chasing Richard Lambert and Richard Harrison. Richard seemed quicker, but also outbraked himself at the end of the Revett straight. I remember thinking it would be nice if he would repeat that later in the day.
When the times came out I was slightly disappointed to be 5th with a time of 1:23.55 seconds. This was better than any lap I had done that weekend, but after looking at times from earlier years I struggled to understand why I was unable to match my time of 1:22.1 from 2002 which would have been good enough for second. I decided to make a radical change to the front suspension & see what happened !
Qualifying 13th (or 12A as they call it in the collecting area) meant that I was on the inside track, next to the pit wall. Mark Rogers was just ahead of me with Ragdan Al-Akabi on the row behind. Driving a class1 2.7RS I knew he would be quick off the line. He was, by the time I had got the car moving he was past and I tucked in behind Mark Lillington in the ex Tony Brown 968 as we rounded Riches with Richard Harrison on my outside. Mark Rogers meanwhile had decided to go ploughing and lost ground, coming back onto the circuit behind me . Sears was interesting. I stuck to the inside and Lillington got away, but Harrison was on the right as Rogers tried to get past on the left and as we exited the corner the road ahead simply narrowed. I realised I was going to end up with dented panels so thought I may as well keep my foot in and maintain the position. As it happened, although both cars came very close, no paint was swapped....thanks guys.
Now it was simply a drag down the straight. Rogers seemed to have an advantage as Richard suffered from a poorer exit from Sears and Rogers took the position at the Esses. He also dived down the inside of Mark Lillington. I'm not sure if that was a deliberate move, or driven by the position he found himself in, but I decided to have some of that and passed Lillington on the run to the Bomb Hole. Mark had passed Ragdan and approached Russell, behind Mike Clapham in his new 968 and Marcus Holden. Rogers was a little overambitious in his braking, took to the grass again, and completely cut out the corner. Clapham went off in sympathy, Ragdan went off on the exit and Holden had to take avoiding action. When the dust settled I passed Ragdan and Rogers was in front of all of us..........
For the next few laps I chased Clapham and Holden, eventually passing Holden on the exit of Sears. Suddenly, there was a three way battle in front of me with Clapham attempting to pass Rogers and Alvaro Crego. His greater power prevailed and I was now in a 3 car battle for third in class, and what a battle it was to be. Though the gap between the three of us ebbed and flowed much of the race was spent trying to find the extra tenths that would give an advantage. Initially Alvaro gave Mark quite a hard time, but he didn't have any sauce in getting past so I moved in After about 3 laps I tried to get past Alvaro at the Esses, but the torque of the S2 came in. On the next lap I pulled past him on the exit of Russell but although we closed up on Rogers I just didn't have enough power to retain the advantage. I was on the outside as we entered Riches. We went through, absolutely side by side at about 90 mph. On the exit Alvaro was still on the inside and pressed home the advantage at Sears, and then down the Revett straight. Alvaro almost passed Rogers under braking and I caught them both through the Esses again. Staying close through Coram I almost ran into the back of Alvaro at Russell and yet again up the straight he caught Rogers, Alvaro moved left, Rogers blocked left. Under braking for Riches Alvaro moved right, Rogers moved right and Alvaro had to brake. This was my chance and I carried the speed thorough the corner but his S2 simply picked it's heels up and stayed in front. Back on the Revett Straight Mark Lillington had caught back up and passed my before The Esses. Damn, this was going to spoil the race. Fortunately Lillington seemed to be getting to grips with the 968 and also passed Alvaro and Rogers within another lap and we were right back where we were. Fo the next 3 laps I crawled all over the back of Alvaro and eventually passed him through Sears. Great, as long as I could stay in front of him down the straight I should be able to pull away. Alas it was not to be for half way down the straight he seemed to get a surge of power and simply passed me, having 2 car lengths by the braking zone. I was well and truly fired up by now and tried again on the exit of the Bomb Hole and was lining up for an attack at Coram whn Richard Harrisons blue 911 appeared to my inside and he passed me. I was not pleased. Richard almost lost it on the exit of Russell so I was able to retake my place behind Alvaro as he retired with a puncture.
For the next four laps I relentlessly harried Alvaro, but just could not find a way past. The three of us took the chequered flag within one second as I took what I considered to be the best 5th place of the weekend. Roll on Oulton Park !
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