Mans Endurance Series – Spa-Francorchamps – April 17
Remarkable Result For LNT
The third race
meeting of the season for Team LNT turned out to be by far the most
significant one in the team’s short history. Third race meeting
– third different series… from Sebring (ALMS) to Donington
Park (British GT) to Spa in Belgoium (LMES).
After the disappointment
of not receiving an entry (or two) at Le Mans, Lawrence Tomlinson’s
plan was a simple one. “We just want to show what we can do
on the track. We know how good the cars are.”
The two entries
were to be driven by:
#81 Lawrence Tomlinson / Warren Hughes / Jonny Kane
#82 Pat Pearce / Marc Hynes / Jason Templeman.
a 47 car entry at Spa, and 16 cars in GT, this was in most respects
about to become the biggest challenge yet. There aren’t any
‘factory’ Porsches in the LMES – so here was a
level playing field in the European series: privateer teams against
privateer teams. But there were ten Porsches and two Ferraris to
beat – plus another TVR, and a Dutch Spyker.
description was “the red Fiats and the Beetles”, for
the main opposition.
free practice sessions were run in bright, dry conditions –
and there they were at the end of the second, one hour session,
in third and fifth fastest positions, surrounded by the best of
the Ferraris and Porsches.
The day had
started with some lively humour at the expense of Pat Pearce (sporting
a black eye), and had ended with the two TVRs right with the serious
competition in the GT2 Class.
go for a run on new rubber, so we knew there was more pace in the
car,” commented Warren Hughes. "I’m sure we could
have set a 2:25…..”
And then it
rained… and that was the end of the fine weather for this
meeting. The two TVRs stayed on dry settings for the morning session,
and despite that were still quick. Pat Pearce: “We were still
setting good times. We know the car is good in the wet, and the
Dunlops are giving us good traction.” The #82 T400-R was fourth
fastest in GT2, the #81 fifth fastest.
This was looking
very promising. Qualifying involved a quick 20 minutes on track,
so only one driver would try for a time in each car – but
the weather had things to say about the session length. 20 minutes
became 14, as low cloud made visibility too limited. Frustration
all round, because the track was actually drying.
a bit annoying really,” said Pat Pearce in #82. “I went
out at the start of the session on normal wets and was badly baulked
by two really slow Porsches at Les Combes and couldn’t get
by them until Pouhon. There was no real time to improve after that.”
Pat was still
eighth fastest, only just over two seconds slower than the pole
qualified #81, and he was fourth fastest, a second away from pole
– behind two “Beetles” and a “red Fiat”.
The scene was
set for a classic 1000 kilometre race on Sunday. Unfortunately,
the weather was just as bad as on Saturday afternoon, and the whole
event would be run in the most miserable, overcast conditions. But
Team LNT, initially in the hands of Warren Hughes in #81 and Marc
Hynes in #82, put on a marvellous show throughout.
Not only did
the TVRs outlast the Porsches and Ferraris, they were right on the
pace of them too.
Hughes and Hynes
both started on intermediate Dunlops, and that proved to be the
right choice, especially as the track ‘dried out’ –
a loose term, because in the cold, perpetually damp conditions,
the water had nowhere to go.
The main rivals
turned out to be the Italian-entered GPC Ferrari, GruppeM’s
Porsche and Scuderia Ecosse’s Ferrari – and whatever
these three entries tried, they couldn’t escape from the attentions
of the two TVRs. Babini in the GPC Ferrari was the quickest early
on (after a brief, early lead for Michael Vergers in the IN2Racing
Porsche), the Italian using the 360’s excellent braking to
good effect, but there were Hughes and Hynes, always in the top
six – and about to improve on that.
Pat Pearce and Jonny Kane under the first safety car saw these two
running second and third in class, the former pounding round with
the latter just ahead, both cars setting their fastest laps on lap
43, just three tenths between them. The GPC Ferrari suffered once
Babini stopped driving, while the GruppeM Porsche went out with
engine failure – so that left one effective rival at the front,
the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari.
The #82 car
had Jason Templeman at the wheel for the third stint, and this was
a real baptism to international GT racing for the new man. “That
was harder than I expected: the key aim for me was to keep the car
on the track at the best pace I could safely manage and with the
visibility into Les Combes particularly bad and a track as slippery
as that was, I’m pleased to have brought it home.”
Great job, just
a slight hiccup to hand over to Marc Hynes, Jason overshooting the
LNT pit. That delay let another Porsche, the Autorlando version,
get closer to #82 – in a furious battle for what had become
second position, because…. Jonny Kane had got the better of
that Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari, even including a clash with a rude
Before the Scottish
Ferrari slid into a tyre wall and out of the race, Lawrence Tomlinson
had already taken a brave decision: he would leave the driving to
Kane and Hughes. “I didn’t want to compromise our result
– this event was so important to us.”
took over for the run to the flag, on slicks. “The circuit
was getting damper, and it was a nightmare, because the last safety
car period meant that I lost all the heat in the tyres.” But
the GT2 class had been well and truly seen off by the #81 car, and
Warren had a lap lead over – Marc Hynes in #82.
was to put me back in for the last stint,” explains Pat Pearce,
“but it was the right decision to leave Marc in. He knew the
Marc Hynes was
on intermediates, and although he looked to be in charge, there
was to be a late-race drama.
had a big problem at the rear end during my stint, possibly a broken
roll bar, which made it really tricky to drive. The boys warned
me that the (Autorlando) Porsche was catching me for position and
you’ve got to do all you can in that situation. I saw the
911 closing in fast and decided that the only way he was coming
past me was on the grass - and he tried that. The challenge certainly
helped my pace and I was really driving around quite a big (handling)
held off the Porsche – by a fraction under half a second,
after nearly 1000 kilometres around Spa. So that was it: not only
had the TVRs managed a first international win for the Blackpool
manufacturer, the cars were first and second at the flag.
just had a congratulatory text from the factory,” said Lawrence
Tomlinson after the race. “This is the biggest race win in
The team took
over a pizza restaurant in Malmedy on Sunday evening – when
the collective achievements really started to sink in. Team LNT
had done what the team owner wanted – they’d proved
themselves on the track, in emphatic style.
thanks to Muggo (Alan Mugglestone), Rocket (Rodney Farrell) and
all the boys," concluded the boss. "This is a great result
for all the effort that’s gone in building, developing and
testing the cars."