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Embassy Racing – British GT – Silverstone - August 15 - Part 2
Massive Ill Fortune

Race 2
Paula Cook had qualified for race two and it did not all go to plan: “The car was terrible, the back brakes kept locking up and it just didn’t feel nice at all. I only had three shots at a quick lap but the time wasn’t good because the tyres weren’t up to temperature. We let it cool for a few minutes to see if it would sort the brakes out and then I went out again, but got stuck behind a Ferrari at Club: he kept alongside me for the next half lap, I was all over the kerbs and everything, I’ll get him back in the race!” Paula ended up doing a 1:58.956 and it was rather a disappointment to see the car in the middle of the pack in tenth place.

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Knowing she had some work to do Paula set off with best intentions but on a horrible greasy track - after the visiting French Lamborghini gifted Silverstone with liberal applications of engine oil within the first five minutes - it was hard enough staying on the track, never mind trying to move up the field.

The safety car came out and it started to rain as well - not pleasant at all. With racing underway (once dust had been swept into the oil patches) both Corvettes seemed to be struggling more than most with the greasy conditions.

Paula handed over to Neil as early as possible - his weekend had been going much better than the Yorkshire lass’s after all. Embassy then received a double whammy when only moments after Neil rejoined, the safety car was deployed to recover a car that had been sat in the gravel for several laps already - a car that everyone knew was there…

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dailysportscar.com“I thought we had called it right,” explained Jonathan France. “We had people at Stowe and Club watching the weather and staying on slicks was the right choice, because we wanted Neil in the car as soon as possible. We couldn’t have banked on another safety car period and starting from tenth we didn’t have much to lose so we had to do something different to everyone else.”

So now everyone else could pit (and they did) without losing as much time, as they could catch the train behind the safety car again within the same lap. Even harsher misfortune followed as the safety car delayed Cunningham unnecessarily, as everyone else lapped at pace to come up behind them, losing Embassy almost a lap and any prospect of a finish representative of their performance. “We hoped to get Neil out before the safety car came round, but it wouldn’t fire up and we lost fifteen seconds and ended up behind it. If we’d have been out in front of it, then Neil would have been leading by the time everyone else had pitted and it would have been looking very good for us indeed when the safety car pulled off,” is how Jonathan France explained what was in fact a triple whammy of bad luck – doubtless costing Embassy its first podium finish.

As it turned out Neil was left to battle with the similarly afflicted-by-safety-car-shenanigans Xero Corvette, for eighth place and fifth in class. At least these two were able to put on a good show – a very good show. It was slicks versus intermediates in the drying conditions and Neil put a move on Ricky Cole at Stowe with seven minutes to go, only to lose the place again on the infield. On the next lap Neil monstered Ricky on Hangar Straight and this time the inters. had no answer. Neil’s drive in the wet on slicks was stunning, he was the quickest on the track for several laps, the only two cars near his time being the Xero Corvette and the Gruppe M Porsche, both of which were on intermediates. He was four or five seconds faster than many of the slick-shod rivals. How were you able to do that Neil? “I’m a f****** good driver” was the Kiwi’s blunt but accurate response.

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The car came home eighth overall and fifth in class but would have been much better placed had it not been for the arbitrary decisions of the race officials. They had said in the driver briefing that in the event of a safety car they would allow the cars to pass until the leader had been picked up and then allow the rest of the cars to bunch up behind the pack before going racing again. In practice they held both Corvettes up as the pack raced away, then with a big gap to chase down (and nowhere is it bigger than on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit) they let racing recommence. Race over as far as the Corvettes were concerned.

Lets hope for better decisions, better racing and better luck for Embassy Racing in two weeks time at Thruxton.
Paul Slinger

 

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