Motorsport – 2006 British GT Championship – Snetterton
Having missed the trip to Mondello Park in late June, Snetterton
on July 15-16 saw a first outing for the red, white and blue Eclipse
Moser since the event at Donington Park in May. It was certainly
a successful trip to Norfolk, with two third places… but not
altogether very satisfying.
Improvements to the Mosler were focused on the front uprights, which
hitherto have been standard Corvette parts. These haven’t
really got enough ‘meat’ on them for racing use, and
the rather narrow wheel bearing, plus a slight tendency to flex,
mean that the drivers have always been coping with a degree of pad
‘knock-off’, which requires them to settle the front
pads with a dab on the brakes, before every brake application.
Testing st Snetterton on Friday should have seen the Mosler running
in four, 45 minute sessions – with two drivers present. But
as it turned out, it became two 45 minute sessions, and one driver.
Lee Caroline was diagnosed with a bug, and Phil Keen would be taking
on all the driving duties.
“We only did the first and last sessions,” explained
team manager John Griffiths. “One of the uprights snapped
at the Bomb Hole, and Phil nudged into the tyre barrier, fortunately
without any serious damage. We got the car out again, with the original
uprights, for the last session.”
we were back to where we were at Donington Park two months ago,”
added Phil Keen. “With the standard uprights, we can’t
adjust the castor, and then there’s the pad knock-off back
again – which doesn’t actually cost us any time, it’s
Qualifying in the two sessions at lunchtime on Saturday went well
though, Phil Keen second fastest in each session – just nine-thousandths
behind the Panoz in the first session, and (a rather worrying) 1.7
seconds behind Tim Mullen in the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari in the
The Ferrari had some special tyres from Avon for this weekend –
and the Panoz and the Eclipse Mosler didn’t. That set up some
great competition between the two American cars, but the Ferrari
was out of reach of both of them.
A glimmer of hope appeared before the first of the two races, late
on Saturday afternoon, when, with the schedule brought forward by
a few minutes, the Ferrari wasn’t present to take up its grid
slot, and had to start from the pit lane. In didn’t really
make much difference, except that a fast car chasing through the
whole field is always entertaining.
Keen slotted into second from the lights, behind Tom Kimber-Smith
in the Panoz – but didn’t complete the first lap on
“It just went dead,” said the driver, “and the
car stopped. Something tripped a fuse for the main power, but I
managed to get it back to the pits.”
“It turned out to be a chafed wire to the lights,” said
John Griffiths. “We switched everything off except the essentials,
that is fuel pumps and the ignition, and sent him on his way, and
it seemed fine.”
“I came out a lap down on the Panoz, and soon got past, but
from a lap behind, the best we could hope for was third,”
summed up Phil Keen.
With just the one driver, there was also a 15 second penalty to
add at the pit stop, so third place it was. That was the third of
the season, after two at the opening event at Oulton Park.
was another to come on Sunday, but at least this time there was
a very good race (with the Panoz) – for half of the event
Phil Keen made a good start, but had Luke Hines pressuring him all
the way round the first two laps. Unfortunately, with Tim Mullen
starting the Ferrari, the 430 was more than two seconds ahead at
the end of lap 1, and almost four ahead after two.
Luke Hines grabbed second place at the end of the back straight,
under braking for the Esses, on lap three – but the next half
an hour of the race had a distinct highlight, as the two GT2 cars
raced nose to tail almost throughout. Here's Phil Keen and the Mosler
almost hidden behind the Panoz - twice - into and through Russell.
Phil Keen had to leave a slight gap, and move around to find some
clear air, when the water temperature rose, to 97 degrees, in the
‘dirty’ air behind the Panoz, but typically these two
circulated almost as one.
Keen was the first of the three leaders to pit, on lap 26, by which
time the Ferrari was almost 40 seconds ahead of the Panoz. But that
15 second penalty (for having one driver) meant that Tom Kimber-Smith
had a safe gap back to the Eclipse Mosler of nine seconds by the
time both cars were up to speed, and although Phil Keen cut that
to six by the flag, the Mosler was always destined for third place.
With the Ferrari’s tyre advantage, even starting from the
pit lane on Saturday didn’t disrupt the 1-2-3. The next event
is at Rockingham on August 12/13, by which time hopefully the leading
GT2 cars will all have the benefit of Avon’s latest rubber.