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21 Septemebr 2008

The Britcar Weekend

Update 22nd September 2008: It became apparent today that Andy Neate's condition is very serious indeed and the family has requested that all pictures and video of the accident are removed from the internet where possible. We of course have complied immediately with their wishes.

Our thoughts are with Andy's family and friends at this time and we wish him a full recovery.

Well what a weekend that was. The weather was great, well over 300 tvr nuts attended to cheer the cars on…and the weather was great! If you’ve ever been before, you’ll get what a marked improvement the sunshine made to the weekend.

The first disappointment was that the GTF was missing. After 10 months of development, time and lots of money, the guys had to admit defeat, even though they were sure that the car was ready. Issues with the shear power of the car ripping the transmission out of its housings meant more development and so testing was delayed…and ya can’t run for 24hrs without A LOT of testing. Still, onto the weekend.

The Racesport Sagaris GTS was there and in fine form. The car has been pretty much on the pace all year, with several podiums and even a win a SPA, so things were looking good for Dennis Leech and Richard Stanton’s beautiful car….but disaster was looming. After qualifying third and with one of the two front running Moslers in the pit lane, the rolling start was underway and the Sagaris was well placed to attack when the remaining Mosler span under power and veered across the track. The hard accelerating Andy Neate had to take evasive action at well over 100mph on fresh cold rubber had to take to the grass. Hitting the wall, the stricken car flew back across the track in front of the field and into the pit wall lying across the track with the rear end smashed by the impact.

Things were soon to get much worse. The LNT G50 was unsighted and still accelerating hard down the straight and was hemmed in by a Porsche. It had nowhere to go and hit the Sagaris in the rear quarter. The data logger in the Ginetta recorded 130mph on impact and 5mph 0.5 seconds later. A hellish impact which destroyed both cars.

With all involved drivers unconscious, they race was held under the safety car for around an hour whilst the track was cleared. The Sagaris roof had to be cut open to extract Andy who was taken to the Medical Centre before attending hospital for a check up and scans. A big thanks too, to the Marshals of course from all the Teams.

Well, with all the direct tvr interest gone, we noted that our friend and fellow racer Owen O’Neill was the only tvr related runner, racing one of the Topcats Marcos’ in group B. He only found out that he’d be running the Friday before…and the next (last) Friday he was out testing in the car!!! Top man…that takes some big Cahoona’s!

Still in his Rookie year, Owen has been a big supporter of tvr racing for some years. He has several tvr’s and has sponsored Marc Hockin for a year or two already. He now races the car he used to sponsor (Marc’s Black Griffith) in Group B and all things being equal, should take third in the Championship at Oulton Park in what has been a very fast GroupB in 2008. With only this experience behind him, Warren at Topcats saw fit to trust him with one of his racecars in the biggest and busiest race of the year. Praise indeed. Warren is not known for suffering fools!

So in his baptism of fire, Owen must have drawn a very short straw as his first session was in the dark. With all the carnage, Owens car was placed P3 overall on his first stint…no pressure then! He texted me in the morning, very tired but very happy. Through most of the night they had been running in P1 due to failures in the other competitors. They built a 3-lap lead and were running well when a drive shaft went. The car was recovered to the pits, repaired and back out in time to take P10. Outstanding.

They held this until late morning with Owen putting in solid laps for the Team with a PB of 2:07. That’s pretty good in that traffic. But once again disaster struck. At around 12:15 the engine seized. Game over.

Now that’s what you call a busy weekend of racing. Hundreds of tvr fans, a TVRCC area and Hog Roast, even a live Band! Fantastic, and with all the drama on the track…a huge tvr weekend.

Big thanks to all those who put so much work in…whether they made it to the track or not. Team Sagaris, Team Racesport, Team Topcats. In particular. Here’s to next year!

Andy tvrMonster

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