NSSCC Race Report Croft 10/11th September 2005
Car - 944 Turbo
The plan was that I would do some pre race testing on the Friday with both the 924 Carrera GT and the 944 turbo. While the morning was spent playing around in the damp with the GT, there was no opportunity to test the 944 as the car was delayed arriving from the rolling road. It wasn't a wasted day as the opportunity for wet weather testing in the Gt could well come in handy at the final round of the Porsche Club championship in two weeks time.
Saturday morning saw another damp track with further drizzle adding to the moisture level during the day. Following the recent test sessions at Croft and the damp running yesterday I adjusted the dampers to some settings I thought would work and drove down to the collecting area.
Recently there has been a bit of a competition going on between David Cox and John Parton to be first in the queue for practice. John Parton had won that event for this meeting but I noticed he had left a good sized car gap in front of his Honda. I joked with Coxy "Wouldn't it be good to see John's reaction if someone parked in front of him". Yes, you guessed correctly that's precisely what I did, in full view of John and David. As expected he took it in good humour as I joked about never leaving a gap !
Practice was straightforward, with the dampers working well and the tyres taking their time to get some heat into them. Initially I pulled out a good hundred yards on David Cox, but on laps 2-4 his car was working well with sticky tyres and he caught & passed me. I knew the track would come to me as the tyres warmed and so it proved. For the final 3 laps of qualifying I was giving chase to Stewart Whyte Coxy and Steven Ferguson who had passed me. That was a very revealing three laps as I found that under braking and cornering I was able to stay with the four wheel cars, but lost out hugely accelerating out of corners.
When the times came out I was in P4, with Tony Caig on pole followed by Whyte and Ferguson. There was now a 24 hours wait for the race.
There had been an improvement in the weather overnight so it was time to swap rims & prepare for a dry race. Lining up on the grid I was expecting that we would be given two green flag laps due to the change of conditions. but that was more a wish rather than Blue Book as the change was from wet to dry.
Recent race starts had shown me that I needed to be more brutal with the throttle to get a better start. I practiced as the green flag dropped and decided that another couple of hundred revs would be ideal. At issue was the difficulty in doing that with a turbo car which will want to rev higher if any boost builds against the drag being taken by the clutch. Conversely if the revs drop it takes more time to get them back up again.
This time I managed it, and though my real goal was to stay with Stewart Whyte the first task in hand was to edge ahead of Steven Ferguson who had the advantage of 4 wheel drive. I'm still not sure if it was a truly great start from me, or a bad one from Fergie, hindered by a misfire which would see him retire after a couple of laps, but I got the drop on him and leapt into third place by Clervaux. Whyte had taken the lead and immediately started to build a lead. Tony Caig tried to stay with him but saw the lead extend while Tony did the same to me. I knew I needed to be patient to give the tyres chance to get warm and that I could make time up as the race went on, but David Cox on his sticky tyres was hungry for third place and for the first couple of laps really nibbled at my heels, particularly in the last third of the lap. However on lap three I started to extend a lead over him by which time the gap to Tony Caig was not increasing. Time to get the hammer down.
I chased Tony but each time I passed the start line the lap time was well short of what I was expecting. Knowledge of the championship position must have been affecting my subconscious as I couldn't really identify a problem with the car so I decided at the halfway point to simply bring the car home for a safe third place. With three laps to go i was accelerating towards Tower and noticed smoke coming from the engine breather side of the car. More worryingly it was also visible from the left side of the car. I suspected a minor hose leak, or head gasket failure but checked the gauges and say water was 100 and oil 90, so no problems there.
On the next lap I was negotiating the entrance to Tower when the rear end started to rotate. I piled on the opposite lock carefully, trying to catch the car, and was just about to past the point of no return when a quick jab on the brakes rescued the car from the spin and i was able to continue to the Esses. Another check of the gauges showed the water was already up to 120 and it wouldn't get any higher as that was the maximum on the gauge.
With the points structure in the NSSCC I desperately needed to finish the race so decided to drive on even if it meant causing further engine damage. I was cautious through the corners and didn't go over 2500 rpm which gave David Cox the chance to take third with John Parton (yes, I left a gap for him) and Darren Flounders also coming through. I watched the mirrors carefully and on the approach to The Complex saw Paul Moss closing in too. I didn't want to get beaten by a Saxo so a mean streak came out in me and after taking a nice protective line at the hairpin I gave it just enough throttle to beat him across the line for 6th overall and second in class.....for which I apologised later.
That position was important as the points gained meant that save for a pure mathematical chance I had secured second in class from Andrew Morrison for the season, all I would need to do was score one more point at the final two rounds.
Upon return to the paddock the bonnet was lifted. Chris Dyer from Strasse was on a busmans holiday and after cranking the engine over it was disgnosed with a suspected cracked liner. Whoops, there goes another block.
It's looking likely I will finish the NSSCC season in the ever reliable 2.7RS. It is so good that after taking the 944 down to Leeds I went to the 911, turned on the battery cut off switch, cranked it over and the engine sprung into life on the first turn. The car has been garaged for over 12 months, you can't complain about that sort of reliability.
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