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Embassy Racing – British GT – Mondello Park – April 9

Embassy hoped to have learned from Saturday, when they had a race car that Paula Cook had not been completely happy with during her stint. Changes were made for Sunday, but they seemed to have gone too far the other way as this time it was Neil Cunningham who could not replicate his impressive race one charge.

Irish eyes seemed to be smiling down on Paula on the grid – “We had a clutch problem, but we only realised it as we tried to leave the pits so we knew getting off the grid was going to be difficult. It all turned into a mad panic on the grid but eventually the crew managed to push me on my way.” Indeed the organisers thankfully delayed the start until the Embassy Corvette was rolling, despite the fact that the pace-car had already done half a lap!

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The car still wasn’t quite where Embassy needed it to be pace-wise but Paula still enjoyed a tussle with Godfrey Jones in the quick JWR Porsche. She lost a place to the 911, but then fought back, taking the position back at MG Curve. For the next few laps Godfrey pushed hard but Paula did not make a mistake. “He banged against my mirror and pushed it flat so I couldn’t see where he was and had to drive defensively, so I fell back from the others in front.” But at least she was able to fight, in ways that she couldn’t on Saturday.

Going into turn three Jones tried to brake outrageously late: “He got it all wrong, he was wriggling everywhere and lost control, there was no way he was going to make the corner. I tried to move out of the way, but was going off too so I turned in and we made contact – the ironic thing is that he knocked my mirror back into exactly the right position!” The Yorkshire lass had pressured Jones into a mistake and he paid the price – he was out of the race, as Embassy raced on.

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dailysportscar.comPaula had lost ground on those ahead as a result of her scrap with the Porsche, but she had no real pressure from behind either. “The car wasn’t very happy, it was moving around a lot and especially on the down-changes with the clutch problem it was making it even more nervous.” So even with rear-vision restored, there was little Paula could do to gain on the leading pack. The plan was to bring Paula in as soon as possible because out of the driver pairing, she had not been as comfortable with the bumpy Mondello Park as Neil Cunningham.

Unfortunately, this time the car had been adapted away from Neil’s style and this time he was unable to match Paula’s pace. The drivers do not have radically different driving styles generally, but it may be that each driver was taking a different approach to this new circuit, meaning it was hard for the team to produce a car that suited both.

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“It wasn’t the gearbox problem that was slowing me much, I just couldn’t get comfortable with the car the way it was. It was a really boring race for me in the end.” Indeed Neil did not have to fight for a position – there was no defending to be done and the only place he made up was at the expense of the similar Xero car, which had been forced to make an unscheduled pitstop.

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So it was sixth again, the Ferraris and Porsches will take some catching, but the commitment Embassy are putting into their championship campaign can only really see them moving up. “There’s a lot in the pipeline for us and we will be coming back strong for Snetterton. There is still a lot for us to do with the car, and we don’t want to be down in the sixes and sevens, we need to be in the podiums,” were the encouraging words of team boss Jonathan France. He makes a convincing case: let’s get back to the familiar mainland circuits and see what Embassy can do in June. Snetterton should be much more suitable.
Paul Slinger

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