Motorsport – 2005 British GT Championship - Silverstone International
– October 8-9
”After the weekend that we’ve had…”
Those were the words of Eclipse’s Steve Hyde on Sunday afternoon
at Silverstone. It was one of those.. character building weekends
for a race team.
It was the last event of the 2005 British GT season, and in an ideal
world, the team would have gone out on a high. But testing on Friday
saw the most unexpected occurrence on (in) a Mosler – a connecting
rod appeared through the block of the V8. That just doesn’t
happen – but unfortunately, it did.
Martin Short, the Mosler importer, managed to solve the problem:
“They borrowed my engine,” he explained. That was rushed
down from Breckland Technologies in Norfolk, and a late night from
John Griffiths and the crew saw the engine installed, ready for
the 75 minute session on Saturday morning.
It was a brand new V8, so times weren’t top of the priority
list – running it in came first: seventeenth fastest was completely
unrepresentative of the car’s potential. Chris Pollard would
have preferred more running (in) time before qualifying and Saturday’s
race, but the schedule demanded that both drivers set times in the
short qualifying sessions.
Hyde (above) was out in the first one, and he encountered gearchange
problems. ”A fatigue problem, easily fixed,” explained
Breckland’s Mike Rawlings.
Keen (left) proved that point by setting the third best time in
the second session (to set the grid for Sunday’s race), with
a 1:22.803. He was the only man remotely close to the times of the
Scuderia Ecosse cars, eight-tenths adrift of Tim Mullen in the #34
Ferrari 360. What an effective combination Keen and the Eclipse
Mosler have been this year.
Unfortunately, Phil didn’t get a chance behind the wheel on
Saturday – in the wet. The rain arrived midway between qualifying
and the race, and it just got wetter and wetter and wetter.
From 17th on the grid, Steve Hyde had aimed to take it gently early
on, stay out of any GT3 trouble, then work his way up the order.
he was in clutch trouble early on, and “the clutch pedal was
going up and down, with nothing happening – then it would
bite. I ended up with no drive.”
He was stranded out on the circuit, on his seventh lap, and that
was that for Saturday. Sunday had to be better than this, surely?
Yes, it was. A bright, sunny day – and a bright start to the
race from (third on the grid) Phil Keen. He went barreling up the
inside of those two Ferraris at Copse, the one on the outside (Mullen)
running out of road. Then he ran out of road at Becketts, and, like
the Irishman, slipped down the order. Now we had some real racing
though, as the Scottish Ferrari and the Eclipse Mosler fought back
through the GT3s, then the bulk of the GT2s.
They went at it as a pair, but as soon as they’d worked their
way up to the Embassy and Eurotech Porsches in second and third,
Phil Keen passed the Ferrari, and took up his role as the dominant
passed both of the Porsches, so by the completion of lap 15, the
Mosler was second, 22.5 seconds behind Kirkaldy in the #35 Scuderia
Ecosse Ferrari. That gap came down – to 21.7, then 21.5, then
20.9. This was looking very promising. Phil Keen took the lead when
the Ferrari pitted, and then the Mosler came in after 22 laps, for
Steve Hyde to take over.
Steve emerged in a strong fourth, content to let the pros. in those
two Porsches thrash away in their battle for second, but looking
good for a fourth at the flag.
I locked up on a downchange, into the Abbey hairpin,” explained
Steve Hyde, later. “It was one of those things that almost
never happens, but after the weekend that we’ve had…
“The marshals were superb: they wouldn’t give up, and
after losing a couple of laps, they got me out of the gravel. The
trouble was, I’d gone in backwards. I wanted to make sure
that some gravel hadn’t gone where it shouldn’t have
gone (we didn’t want to risk losing another engine), so I
pitted for John to check it over.”
No harm done (other than the lost time), but the Mosler came home
sixteenth on the road: in a one hour race, there’s no chance
to make up a deficit.
On a bright note, Phil Keen’s best lap was within half a second
of the best Ferrari lap, and half a second faster than either of
those Porsches. The Mosler is a very effective GT2 car – but
sometimes a team goes through ‘one of those weekends’.
This was one of them – but prospects are very bright for 2006.
Chris Pollard and John Griffiths will announce the team’s
plans in due course.