Round 6 of 10, Eindhoven 24hr. YES, 24 hours!
Some teams had gone over early to combine a mini break with the race. The weather was cool and breezy but improved all the way to race day and a temperature of 34c. The unremitting sunshine burnt the unwary. Race day, of course, was therefore WET!
Qualifying Top 5
43 MS SoCo Select 73.696 sec (Ayrton Senna Koolen)
111 MS JSR 74.765 (Adam Nicholls)
23 POT Racing 74.828 (Tristram Oman)
8 BRM Stretton 74.973 (Charlie Bingham)
98 Baron Racing 75.065 (Jeremy Gumbley)
From a Le Mans start Adam Nicholls (111 MS JSR 1) repeated his glorious start from IOM and swept into the lead. He was rapidly overtaken in the difficult conditions by 43 MS SoCo Select’s Ayrton Senna (not a lot of reporters have the chance to use those words). The front two were followed by 23 POT (Tristram Oman) and 98 Baron (Jeremy Gumbley) who had somehow found a way to get in front of 8 BRM Stretton (Charlie Bingham) ,
The conditions were drying out and we had lost 10sec from the lap time (but still 10 sec to go to a dry time). 98 Baron had just gone purple (62.05sec) and were reducing the gap to the leader to 5 sec. 11 had moved up to 8th and 77 OffLine Racing ( Kosta Kyritsis) were the leading Clubman in 10th.
43 MS SoCo Select had regained the lead and then “a racing incident” led to an unexpected pit visit to have the “big foot” secured to the front bumper and a return to the race of Ayrton Senna. 98 Baron Racing were leading again from 4 ALPHA with an 18 sec cushion and a lap plus 9 sec over 43 MS SoCo Select (Senna) . 33 Q Racing (Adam Willis) were now in 8th place and 97 GP United were 10th. We were now having a period of calm as the dry conditions reduced the number of off-track excursions and consequent damage. Then 98 Baron Racing came in with collapsed stub bearings and 23 POT Racing with an axle which was bent like a banana. And then it rained again.
43 MS SoCo Select ( Steven Welsh) in the lead with a lap plus 3 sec to 4 ALPHA (Chris Freeman) and 8 BRM Stretton (Ronnie Rowe) at a further 6 sec. Then 111 MS JSR(Mark Fothergill),44 MS JSR 2 (Karl North), 443 MS Lucas (Dan Crossley) ,98 Baron Racing ( Tom Campion) ,33 Q Racing (Mark Brown) ,58 DWS (Miles Murphy) ,77 Offline Racing (Chris Pedlingham) and 97 GP United.
The race continued, in the dry. The gaps increased and decreased as the drivers changed and the tyres were ready for changing. At 7hrs 99 Modave (Caprasse Kavim had stub bearings fail and 11 B&B returned in the pick up truck. From 10hrs onwards the teams began to change tyres, check oil and make any set up changes and it was fascinating to see the amount of co-operation in the pits between different teams as they pooled equipment and expertise to change quickly. One change I saw had all four wheels replaced and the oil checked simultaneously, not quite F1 speed but much faster than the hand rotated speed brace of my time.
12 hrs Halfway
43 ,4,8,98,111,44,33,77,97,99,115,443,888,58,66, 17, 1, 74, 5, 3
43 MS SoCo Select (Paul Wilkins) were improving their lead to 3 min 22 sec over 4 ALPHA (John Munday) who , in turn, had 3 min 44 over 8 BRM Stretton (Jonte Beswick) and 2 min 24s over 98 Baron Racing (Lewis Walters).
111 MS JSR ( Sam Tugwell) had been striving all the way to break into these 4 “usual suspects” for the podium as their number was the race number of Jamie Stubbs, our team mate who died suddenly last year. This was an especially poignant weekend as last year it was this weekend that he collapsed at work and his problem was discovered. Also he was a mainstay of 43 MS SoCo Select which was also trying to win for Jamie.
The top Clubman team was 77 Offline Racing Offline with 12 min lead from 97 GP United , a team from Belgium and 99 Modave (Baleem Cedin, ) another Belgian team and 3 sec was 115 Team Keane (Danny Keane). The top Hire team was 5 Ministry of Speed, 1 min 43 sec from 3 A la Kart, 6 Slam it on Pole.
The second half of the race was less frantic even though the pace was still at sprint/qualifying standard. The rain had gone away and looked like it would stay away and the red mist of overtaking (hence damage) seemed to have diminished.
Until 443 MS Lucas (Simon Ham) came in with the teeth stripped from their clutch drum and in their haste to get into the fray encountered an accident which resulted in another bent track rod. 20hrs ( 8 am) 43 MS SoCo Select (Daz) was coming in , panic in the team. Run out of brakes fresh pads needed. As the kart entered the pit lane, nerves quietened and the team moved like a well – oiled machine to replace the pads which had been using the backing material as friction pads. Since this was unexpected the brake draggers were being given a hard time until the other similarly equipped karts came in for pads and the punishing circuit was blamed for the wear.
43 MS SoCo Select (Senna) rejoined in 2nd and then set about regaining the lead. As well as giving the karts a hard time this twisty , high speed, bumpy circuit was also taking it’s toll on the drivers as they retired from their teams with bruised ribs or chest muscles in spasm. Truly an Endurance race.
The teams had developed strategies to maximise their stints and therefore reduce fuel stops and this had gone out of the window for some with their emergency stops. The final 2 sessions were therefore at frantic pace, again, as teams tried to compensate for the changing fuel stop scenarios, while everyone was knackered.
FINISH: 1483 laps
1st 43 MS SoCo Select, 2nd 8 BRM Stretton 3rd 4 ALPHA 4th 98 Baron Racing 5th 33 Q Racing
1st 77 Offline Racing 2nd 99 Modave 3rd 97 GP United 4th 888 Stretton BRM 5th 66 Lambo
1st 6 slam it on Pole 2nd 3 A la Kart 3rd 5 Ministry of Speed
4th 9 KOKS A 5th 55 Kart Attack
The organisers , Peter van Oord, were very helpful and co-operative. The burgers were the best I have tasted in an eating place – which was definitely, upmarket.
The whole place was tidy and well ordered until the British came but we did our bit at the end to leave it as we found it.
Many thanks to Bob Pope, Dave Redding, Paul Franklin, Martin Howells, Paul Beatty, Kelvin Nicholls, Bob Hutchinson and the marshals for working tirelessly to make the event happen.