The Spirit Racing team had frustrating start to its attack on the European VdeV championship in Jarama in Spain at the weekend (March 17-18), with both cars being hampered by mechanical problems.

Rob Garofall got the team off to a flying start in qualifying, putting his and Simon Phillips’ car onto pole position for the three hour race. However, it wasn’t as easy in the other side of the team garage as Jamie and Adam Derbyshire’s car struggled with mechanical problems throughout the weekend.

A gearbox temperature issue hampered testing for the pair, before the team finally managed to find what they hope is a permanent fix for the problem. As the car went out for qualifying, though, it developed an engine misfire, leaving Adam and Jamie 20th out of the 38 car field.

In the race, the team managed to solve the problem on the Derbyshire car after changing some of the electronic sensors, which had been fooling the engine management to shut down the engine. When Adam and Jamie finally got a car that was running right, they started to set lap times equal to the leading squads - on the way to 16th place at the flag, proving that the Spirit cars have the pace to run at the front.

More drama was to follow for Garofall and Phillips however, as they too picked up an engine misfire just three laps into the three-hour race. Unfortunately the team was unable to trace the cause of the problem and the pair were forced to retire the car to avoid causing any damage to the engine.

“It’s definitely been a mixed weekend for us,” said Jamie Derbyshire. “The gearbox temperature problem was frustrating as we have been testing to get the cars reliable, instead of setting up for speed in the short time we’ve had. So to miss out on the testing with it made it hard work for us. Then to get a misfire too, put us back even further.”

“Once we got the car running properly we were pleased with the times we could do in the race though. Rob did a great job putting their car on pole and we couldn’t believe it when they picked up a misfire too,” he added.

“It was a nice start to the weekend and the season, taking pole position,” said Rob Garofall. “There are some first class drivers in the VdeV series and to be quickest straight out of the box was just what the team needed. It was really positive right up until the race, when it turned to frustration for us.

“But, we proved the quality of the team and the pace of the cars over the weekend, which was one of our main aims and we will be putting in plenty of testing miles between now and the next round, so we can get the cars fully sorted.”

The team will be back in action in five weeks time, at the French circuit of Val de Vienne for another three-hour race.


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