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Bathurst 24 Hours – The Rollcentre Crew
We know quite a lot about Patrick Pearce, a little about Heather Spurle and - well, so far, hardly anything about Charles Lamb.

On Friday at Bathurst, let's fill in some of the gaps - and bring you up to date on Martin Short's dramatic and painful week.

Charles Lamb - Second Time At Bathurst
dailysportscar.com"I've known Martin for a few years, and I was talking to him when he first started in GTs, with his TVR Cerbera. Unfortunately, I sat on the fence too long, and Rob Barff got the drive. But we kept in touch, and when Martin went to Daytona in 2002, I was down to race with him in the silver Mosler, with Dilanthe Malagamuwa. Martin then backed out of that, and he signed up to drive in the Konrad Saleen, but I stayed with the team - at least long enough to driver it for about ten laps. That car had lots of power, but also very poor brakes, and it was very difficult to select gears. Imagine coming down off the banking, trying to stop the thing and find a gear: not funny.

"So I backed out of the drive too, and didn't get to race at all. But situations change, and Martin was sufficiently impressed with the Mosler that he became the European importer, and we did a deal to race here last year.

"And I haven't raced since! I'm here because I love endurance racing, and with my racing being funded through my company, I have to make the most of every opportunity. Taking part here will be like getting a season's sprint races in one event.

"My main business is Progressive Networks, an IT hosting and comunication networks design company. But we've just launched www.topletter.com, a free UK ISP, with the cusomer only paying for the cost of a local call. You'll see the logo on the wing of the Mosler.

"It's been a busy few months of course, and when Pat and Heather tested the Mosler at Donington Park in early October, I hadn't signed up to drive yet. So as of Friday morning at Bathurst, I haven't driven this Mosler yet. But it will all come together for the race.

"I'm sure Martin will set the qualifying time, but I'm also sure that we'll all be quicker than last year. Martin has done an awful lot to the car during the last 12 months: as I understand it, he's made a substantial difference at the back end, which had too much flex in it. The car is going to be easier to drive, and we'll have more grip.

"We'll get a real idea of our pace after qualifying, but maybe we'll set a 2:15 in qualifying, with a target of 2:20 race pace. Last year that was a 2:23 or 24 race pace: we'll still be conservative this year, but nothing like the 70% or so we ran last November."

Charles' predictions were just a little awary after first qualifying, the Mosler suffering from settings that were just too stiff for this track (see below).

Patrick Pearce - Very Excited (About This Week & Next Year)
"I hope to announce my 2004 plans before Christmas," says a bubbly Patrick Pearce. Any more than that, he cannot say for the moment, but it's certainly an exciting time for a young driver wishing to carve a career in our kind of racing. Pat let slip that his father really loves this country - he's not the only one - so perhaps Pearce Snr. might eventually settle out here.

dailysportscar.comSo what about Bathurst prospects, Pat (a hard question when the young man hasn't raced here before, and has only raced the Rollcentre Mosler in a Britcar race - in detuned form)? We'll find out if Friday's track action confirmed these 'predictions'.

"We should be able to set good times without driving too hard. I practised the other Rollcentre car at Spa, but unfortunately we didn't get very far in the race.

"Round The Mountain, it will be like threading a needle - going between the walls. This is a big car - and the length of it will mean we're going to pick up a front wheel and lose front end grip on a couple of the steeper, dropping away corners. We won't be hugely quick on the straights, but a figure of something over 425 bhp with 1000 kg should compare quite well with the Monaros' 1400 kg and . .oh, what do you think, about 670 bhp?

"We're also a more slippery shape. There's nothing trick added to the Mosler: no clever aero features to slow us on the straights. It's exactly as it runs in British GTs - but I think with a slightly larger restrictor.. But we should be very good under brakes. From the time I've had in the car, I know that we brake at the same point as a Cup Porsche, but from much higher speed.

"I can't wait to get out there, and I just hope Martin's eye trouble clears up."

Yes it is clearing up (see below). And after just three laps in the morning session - an out lap, one flier (a 2:26!) and and in lap, Pat's verdict was ... "It's a real eye opener!"

"From Skyline down it's really exciting - even on half throttle, and looking for the corners."

So Pat is happy to have lapped this great track at last.

Heather Spurle - Mrs. Level Headed
Actually she's Mrs. Brian Lawrence, her husband being the Special Events Manager here at Bathurst. Brian is also the Category Manager for the V8 Brutes and the Nations Cup, and is the brother of a famous racer - Graeme Lawrence, well known for racing and winning the Tasman Cup 30 years ago, in a 2.5 litre F1 Ferrari.

How do you end up driving the Mosler here this week, Heather?

dailysportscar.com"Martin, Brian and I just clicked last year. Brian helped Martin get here with the Mosler a year ago, and after the race I gave Martin my CV, and said I wanted to talk to him about doing the race here in 2003.

"Then I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March, and when Brian and Martin spoke on the 'phone, it really shook Martin up to know what I was going through. The next day a teddy bear and a bunch of flowers arrived, with the message 'Hang in there girl, the drive is there if you're up to it.'

"Martin gave me this opportunity, and for that I'll always be grateful. I did the test at Donington Park, just so that we could both be sure that I was 'up to it'. It was early enough that Martin could find another driver if necessary, but obviously the fact that I'm here now proves that it went pretty well. Actually, it was awe inspiring, driving the Mosler at Donington Park. I was learning a new car and a new circuit - and surrounded by about 30 youngsters in Formula Renaults.

"The car was superb to drive, well mannered, it didn't scare me at all - just a very, very effective car.

"But I only did two laps this morning (Friday) - because we had an issue with the shock absorbers. It's also a rather different circuit from the Mount Panorama I raced on 13 years ago: all the kerbs are different for example. And the car is very different from a TWR Group A Commodore V8."

Next year, Heather is hoping to secure a Production Car drive in a MINI Cooper S. We wish her well with that project - but more immediately at this weekend's event.

Martin Short - Eye Trouble
"I don't normally sleep for long on a plane, but I slept for six hours coming out here - and that was the start of my trouble."

Something as dull as going to sleep for six hours, but the consequences were eventually very worrying indeed.

"The dry air on the plane dried out my lenses, and a lens scratched my eye, and I picked up an infection."

It still doesn't sound too serious.

"I saw a doctor at 9 am on Wednesday, and he gave me some cream to try to heal up the scratch, but it was getting more and more painful.

"As soon as I arrived here I saw the circuit doctor, Dr. Anton, and he diagnosed an eye infection, and gave me some pills.

"But it was still getting worse. Dr. Anton arranged for me to see an eye specialist yesterday (Thursday), and he took some slices off my eye, and was really worried that I had an abscess developing. Meanwhile I was getting 'iller and iller'.

"By yesterday afternoon, I was in the local hospital, but I was so ill and tired and weak, I was virtually falling over. Next try was anaesthetic eye drops and codeine, but I had to stop taking the codeine last night because it contains a banned substance. Finally last night, Dr. Anton gave me a drug that is held in reserve to sort out the highly resistent bacteria that get into hospitals. That really started to cure me, within a few hours.

dailysportscar.com"My eye is massively better now, I'm just feeling very weak. The health service here has been brilliant though, absolutely brilliant."

Probably the last thing Martin needed today was a Mosler that was "too stiff. Look at the V8s racing here in the 1000 Km: they're set up very soft, and although we've made the Mosler better and better everywhere else in the last year, it was just too stiff this morning for the dips and swoops at the top of the hill. It'll be OK though, once we've revalved the shocks."

Will 'Shorty' though? We hope so, he's had it tough this week.

 

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