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Up in smoke - British GT Championship - Snetterton - Embassy Racing

Snetterton’s double header was reduced to a single race as far as Embassy’s interests were concerned. A slight drop in oil pressure just a few minutes before the end of the race was the only warning Paula Cook had that the engine was going to say goodbye. “It was so close to the finish that we thought we would just try to make it - it had been running on seven cylinders for the race anyway so it was pretty obvious something was wrong. The next thing I knew there were flames all around my feet and smoke everywhere”

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With only two and a half minutes of the race remaining the Corvette lay smouldering half way around the lap and it was all over.

A dismayed Jonathan France surveyed the extinguishant-coated car when it was returned to the paddock but it became obvious that the damage was too serious to be repaired overnight for Sunday’s race..

The intermittent misfire had plagued the Corvette throughout the day but had really crippled Paula’s stint as 1:10s became 1:13s and all she could do was keep pushing for the finish, defenceless to the advances of those behind. Seventh place would have at least netted them some points, but without the misfire fourth or fifth was definitely on the cards.

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“I had driven the nuts off the thing to keep it close to the front” summed up Neil Cunningham - obviously frustrated that his hard work had come to nothing. “It felt like it was on seven cylinders in qualifying as well - it was baggy rather than racey and I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough steam left in it to see us through the race.”

Neil’s seventh on the grid had made him the best of the non-Ferrari/Porsche runners, bar the fresh-for-2004 Ultima which had just pipped him by three-hundreths of a second right at the end of the session. The race pace was good before the engine problem really took hold with Neil keeping the car in a strong fourth place almost throughout, inheriting the lead briefly as the front-runners pitted earlier than the Kiwi. This is not a team to be content with fourth places though…

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It seems that on the remaining power circuits such as Thruxton and Silverstone the Corvette faces an unequal struggle on the straights despite the organisers allowing a marginal increase in the restrictor size. “It makes absolutely no difference at all” was the verdict of both drivers.

Lets hope on the tight and twisties of Castle Combe in a fortnight’s time the Corvette will be back out fighting fit and giving the Ferraris and Porsches something to worry about.
Paul Slinger

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