Practice & Qualifying
Fit For Racing
back almost exactly a year to the opening race of the 2005 Le Mans
Endurance Series and, as Hugh Chamberlain put it at Istanbul today,
Saturday, after qualifying, “Who would have predicted that
we would have won LMP2 last April?”
the same drivers for 2006, so that’s Gareth Evans, Bob Berridge
and Peter Owen (right), and although the car looks similar, it’s
the brand new Lola B06/10 with AER’s also-new for 2006, 3.6
litre twin-turbo V8.
the car looks similar, Hugh Chamberlain looks similar, but the drivers
have all been getting stuck in to their fitness programmes since
April 2005. Gareth Evans and Peter Owen have been the most recent
to devote more time to fitness, and both look very well on it.
Berridge claimed his weight loss last summer. Peter Owen allegedly
has some new racing boots for this year, but some merciless ribbing
from the other two ensured that they stayed in their box.
sessions with the new car at Estoril and Paul Ricard had gone just
about perfectly, and new car and engine had displayed impeccable
reliability. Apart from one small problem in practice, that reliability
has continued at Istanbul.
first session on Friday, on a very dusty track, but under fairly
clear skies and in pleasantly warm temperatures, saw Peter Owen
out first, then Gareth Evans, with Bob Berridge having most time
in the car – because he didn’t race here last November.
turned out that the session was almost meaningless, in terms of
times, because of the dust, but it went so smoothly otherwise that
Gareth Evans (below) even got in the car again for another quick
blast at the end.
Berridge set the best time of the trio; a 1:46.209, sixth fastest
overall, and fifth in LMP1. A solid start – in fact, a very
good start, and the Lola was instantly highly competitive (fifth
morning and it was still dry, although more overcast and cooler,
and on a cleaner track (but still dirty off-line) Bob and Gareth
were both in the forty-sixes, but there was a small ‘but’.
had a fuel pick-up problem,” commented Bob Berridge (what
a distinguished pose, above!), “but they’d fixed it
in plenty of time for the second session.”
Evans (left, looking deadly serious / thoughtful) reckoned that
his new-found fitness came in handy when he was sent out with the
power steering set to the least assistance. “No-one told me
to put it in position four,” he said, “so I just muscled
ribbing, Gareth the victim this time: “Do we have to tell
this team takes its racing deadly seriously, there’s a real
sense of fun when they’re together: Istanbul may not have
been the ideal choice of track for the opening race, but Chamberlain-Synergy
is thoroughly enjoying itself, as ever.
good news was that the team was very pleased with the latest Dunlop
rubber and, with the castor adjusted, the only problem (referred
to by Peter Owen) was that “we were bottoming out in Turns
10 and 11, so we’ve raised the car by a couple of millimetres.
We’d also taken some aero off, and we would have had a better
top speed this morning, but it was masked by the fuel pressure problem.”
quips and wisecracks were flying around, as usual, and Bob Berridge
reckoned that even after along day at the track, they’d probably
still be out in the Istanbul night clubs until five am on race morning.
Perhaps that’s Bob’s version of fitness training? The
three of them had ‘ragged’ Warren Hughes (over at Team
LNT) about his new silver race boots, and Peter Owen’s similar
attire was noticeable by its sudden absence.
everything looked set up for the final session before qualifying,
and each of the drivers had had sufficient laps to feel comfortable
in the car around the sweeping Istanbul Park circuit, thanks to
the continuing reliability (Peter Owen, below)…
then some rain fell in the lunchtime session. Bob Berridge was still
into the 1:45s, but a misleading hour on the track saw Bob, the
usual qualifying man heading into qualifying at 3:30 with a car
that Hugh Chamberlain bluntly described as a bucket of … well,
doubt Julian Sole, the Lola’s designer, wouldn’t have
appreciated the term, but he knows what these Chamberlain-Synergy
boys are like.
‘technical’ terms are misleading, because there’s
such a small margin between a good qualifying car or not, and a
good race car or not.
Chamberlain: “We didn’t give Bob (getting in just
prior to the session, above - and looking very fit.. almost Coulthard-esque
in the botty department!) a good qualifying car at all, but
it is a good race car. I don’t care where we are in relation
to LMP2 cars, because we’re not racing them for points - we’re
racing the LMP1s. The weather hasn’t helped, and although
we went in the right direction, straight away, at Estoril and Paul
Ricard (with the car set-up) we haven’t got it right here
– at least, not for qualifying.”
drivers headed off for their 5am appointment with their beds, confident
that they’d got a reliable car, which Bob would start from
tenth on the grid, sixth in LMP1, after he set a late 1:44.976.
were high and, with the crafty Hugh Chamberlain and Dave Lampitt
overseeing race strategy, no doubt there’s a surprise in store
for the second running of the Istanbul 1000 kilometers for Chamberlain-Synergy
Motorsport. Last November, Evans, Owen and Guy Smith finished second
in class, sealing Gareth Evan’s LMP2 title by a single point
(Bob and Peter each having missed one race thanks to other commitments).
Another podium on Sunday?
Despite a damp/wet warm-up on Sunday, the pre-race mood is very
much more optimistic: "Did you see me whistle past the Pescarolo
past the pits?" asked Bob Berridge.
In general terms, the team had "reviewed certain
issues" and with less drag on the B06/10, it was very quick
again - third fastest overall.