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Tuscans win at Silverstone! International 90s GTs
A challenging weekend in many respects, but ultimately successful.
Terry and Tim had huge problems getting Steve Glynn's car ready, missing both Free Practice sessions. Darren lent them our spare gearbox which enabled them to get out for qualifying - but not until after 36 hours or so of endless grief.
In FP 1, and as a consequence of moving the seating position around to accomodate Darren in the car, I fluffed a downchange on my first time at speed through Copse (stretching for the pedals) and put a shock through the transmission, losing all drive. The drive shaft flange had pulled out of the side of the diff.
We changed the diff for FP2 only to have the ECU pack up mid way through the session. A sprint back to the awning for the spare got us back out again but only for a few laps. By qualifying Darren had done 3 laps, and I had done 5. Only a little better than Steve and Tim who had none at all. Tim and Darren raced on the full GP circuit in the Tuscan Challenge in 2003, but Steve and I have never raced on it - losing practice time was not good.
Qualifying went without a hitch, and the combined average of the two driver's times put us 5th on the grid, first in class and ahead of all the GT2s. Tim and Steve were in 9th, 3rd in GT3.
Come Saturday we decided Darren would start the race and hand over to me at around the 20 minute mark. He got a blinding start into 3rd and a three or four lap battle with the Stealth and then the two Porsche GT2s, before deciding to back off slightly to secure the GT3 win. With a very comfortable cushion of some 30 seconds or so, we signalled for him to pit for the driver change. Unfortunately at the end of the Hangar Straight the engine let go in a huge fashion, with a rod blowing a hole in the side of the block and through the bottom of the sump pan. Bitterly disappointing as third overall was on the cards, and the GT3 class win was in the bag. But as they say, to finish first, first you have to finish....
This left us with a lot of work to do, with Andy from APM Automotive and Charlie Barnard bearing the brunt of the work to fit the spare engine, working late into the night. Huge thanks to them both for their sterling efforts.
We would start 12th on the grid for race 2, and I did the first stint. The first lap and a half were good fun carving through the slower cars, but once I passed Steve on the Hangar Straight on Lap 2 it was a case of driving steadily, not making mistakes and short shifting to ensure we had no repeat of the previous day's engine issues.
We pitted on lap 12, leading GT3 with a buffer of about 29 seconds over Steve. Darren then drove a smooth and steady second stint to take third overall and the GT3 win by a huge 1 minute 43 second margin over the #68 Venturi, after Tim was forced to pit a second time for a mechanical issue in the other Tuscan.
Overall it was a great weekend. Very hard work, but hugely satisfying to pitch the Tuscan against international compatition and to do so well. The series should grow from the relatively small grid at Silverstone and SRO are hoping to have a race at Spa during the FIA GT 24 hour weekend in July. There is a confirmed round at Magny Cours in October.
There were a few teething problems which no doubt will get sorted - the pit lane entry was completely blocked during live qualifying by a course car and an FIA GT3 car, the first race was shortened without any of the teams being notified, the minimum pit stop duration was changed as we walked into the pitlane, and finally the podium arrangements were, erm, disarranged. Somewhat surprising for an FIA run event, but no doubt the GT90 team from SRO are on the case and I suspect it will all run perfectly when the boss (Stephan Ratel) is out in his F40 at the next round.
It did feel slightly surreal sitting on the dummy grid alongside a Lotus GT1, a Ferrari 550GT and F40 behind, with my view of Liz Hurley wandering up the grid slightly obscured by the (pert) bottom of my FIA GT brolly girl...
For the record Liz Hurley's husband was the last of the 10 finishers, and he seemed like a nice chap....
So there you go. In this new International series, it appears that if you want to win GT3, the car to have is a tvr Tuscan!
Andy Holdens Report for the TVRCC
Well Done Guys
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