Mans Endurance Series – Nurburgring – September 4
Pace – But No Rewards
So Onto The Next Challenge
There was a sense of the inevitable about the team’s weekend
in Germany, for the fourth of the season’s five LMES races.
By the end of the meeting – in fact, before the end of the
race – Lawrence Tomlinson, Alan Mugglestone and Rod Farrell
were eagerly anticipating the team’s next challenge. In effect,
2006 will begin at Istanbul in November, for the final race of the
second year of the LMES.
Apart from the opening round at Spa in April, the series hasn’t
been kind to the two colourful TVRs. That stunning 1-2, in the fog,
was followed by engine dramas at Monza and Silverstone – but
at least Round 4 wasn't a repeat of two and three.
In fact, there was much to be optimistic about, by the end of qualifying
early on Saturday afternoon. Jonny Kane had qualified the #81 car
(partnering Warren Hughes, as usual) and Marc Hynes the #82 (with
Lawrence Tomlinson and Pat Pearce). The two cars had set the fifth
and seventh best times in the sunny sessions on Friday, and more
good weather arrived on Saturday (and Sunday). Although the TVRs
weren’t right on the pace of the two, very quick Ferraris
(from GPC and Scuderia Ecosse), all five drivers had been banging
in well-matched times.
Fifth and seventh on Friday became superb third and fourth in qualifying,
Kane marginally quicker than Hynes. Only the two Ferraris were faster
– but by some margin (approximately 2.0 and 1.7 seconds).
But the two Italian cars had each had their dramas this year (and
would do so again in the race) – so perhaps the significant
fact was that the two TVRs were faster than all of the Porsches.
Best of the 911s was the Sebah car of Lieb and Pompidou, the car
that had won the other two races this year.
Now if the TVRs were faster than the white Porsche, and if one of
the T400Rs had a perfect run in the 1000 kilomter race….
a downforce circuit,” explained Jonny Kane, “and the
Ferraris have got loads of downforce.”
But the Irishman had set “three or four laps at almost qualifying
pace”, so there’s the consistency of the TVR. “And
it’s nice to have all of the Porsches behind us.”
#81 was using the same engine that had run for three and a half
hours at Silverstone, so all that drama seems to be a thing of the
past, at last.
Hynes’ performance – best lap just over a tenth slower
than #81 – was all the more remarkable because he drove through
the session with the fire extinguisher spraying fluid at his feet!
Slippery pedals? No problem… or none that we know of. Just
keeping the car on the track must have been a challenge.
So Babini and Kirkaldy ahead on the grid, but the two marvellously-liveried
TVRs lined up behind them. Kane and Pearce to start – and
they were prepared to give it everything during the opening stints.
Marc Lieb split them on the opening lap, and with the second tour
behind the Safety Car, that’s how it stayed until lap four,
when Lieb got past Jonny Kane, for third in class. Fourth and fifth
at this stage was fine though. Except that the two Ferraris had
raced off into the distance.
Fourth and fifth became fifth and sixth when the Autorlando Porsche
muscled by, but Luigi Moccia made a mess of things and dropped behind
#81 – for a while at least. Poor old Pat Pearce had been having
'fire extinguisher trouble' too, just like his team-mate in qualifying.
“The on-board fire extinguisher went off by itself at the
first corner,” he explained. “I couldn’t see a
thing. Thank goodness the safety car came out, because that gave
me a chance to clear my visor and try to dry my boots off a bit.”
An hour into the race it was the two Ferraris, by now 45 seconds
ahead of Lieb, then Jonny Kane (-18 seconds), the Italian Porsche,
Palttala in a Belgian Porsche, then Pat Pearce, almost right on
But Pat was in trouble, with a flapping diffuser at the back of
the car. “He’d been hit three times up the back, and
we were preparing to replace the diffuser at the first stop,”
explained Rod Farrell. “But then it fell off.”
When you’re short of downforce, you can’t afford to
lose some of what you’ve got.
Sadly, the first pit stop was just about ‘time’ for
#82. The differential failed after 32 laps, race over - Marc Hynes
having barely got going.
“I finished my stint and handed
the car over to Marc, but then the differential blew itself to pieces
just after he had taken over,” explained Pat Pearce. No doubt
those impacts contributed to the failure.
Things were looking good for #81 though, Jonny Kane rushing along
in third place, after all the GT2s had stopped once. The Scuderia
Ecosse Ferrari had trouble restarting, the Autorlando Porsche had
a slower driver at the wheel, so the only cars ahead were the GPC
Ferrari and that ever-present #90 Porsche.
how it stayed through the two hour mark, the Ferrari 80 seconds
ahead, the Porsche about a minute.
Kane was briefly second when the Porsche made its second stop before
the TVR, then third again after the stops unravelled. Warren Hughes
was into the car by now, but he pitted after just ten laps.
“That cost us two laps, with a gear selection problem,”
explained the ever-helpful Farrell.
The TVR was still running sixth though, with every prospect of a
But the gallant TVR didn’t complete the fourth hour. Broken
front suspension after 104 laps meant game over.
“It’s fantastic to be running these TVRs (pause),
for the last time,” summed up race engineer Alan Mugglestone.
Next time out, at Istanbul in November, Team LNT should be running
a pair of Panoz Esperantes.