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LMES – Silverstone – Thursday Report
Zytek Quickest So Far

As already reported, 40 cars made it as far as scrutineering, but only 39 made it through the inspection. The non-arrivals were the Perspective and Denis Cohignac Porsches, and the MAC Racing Viper, while the TVR T-400R for Lawrence Tomlinson and Nigel Greensall didn’t make it through the ACO’s inspection, so these two drivers will have to be content with the two British GT races.

All available seats seem to have been taken up, John Christie regretting withdrawing his Tampolli late yesterday afternoon: having done so, he then had a selection of drivers available….

So 39 could have taken to the track at 17.00 this afternoon, and 38 set a time: the one not to do so was the AutoPalace Ferrari. There have been driver changes / additions, although not all seem to have been filed with the authorities yet. One that has is Richard Jones, joining Calum Lockie and Phil Andrews in the Taurus Caterpillar,

There were some damp patches lurking for the unwary at five o’clock, even though the scattered but heavy showers had all but finished at lunchtime – leaving a very bright and warm late afternoon. Oddly, we had a red flag within moments of the start of the session (reason unknown) and another at 17.25, as one of the LMP2s found a gravel trap. That led to one of the oddest sights of the session, the Goh Audi making it to the queue at the head of the pitlane, then failing to fire up when the lights changed to green. The mechanics pushed it all the way back down the pit lane, to the Goh pit, no. 1.

The mechanics were still working on it at 19.30, unable at that stage to find out why it wouldn’t ‘goh’. But although Dindo Capello only completed five timed laps, his best, a 1:41.315, was still good enough for fifth fastest – and it was the three Audis and two DBA / Zyteks occupying the first five lines on the time sheet.

The factory Zytek was fastest, Robbie Kerr setting the 1:38.104, half a second or so faster than the two Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx R8s. Team manager John Wickham explained that they’d filled the 04S up with fuel at the start of the session, and just run the hour and a quarter like a stint, with no change of rubber. Chris Dyson had his first try round Silverstone, reckoning it to be a “beautifully flowing circuit, an excellent track.”

Robbie Kerr is a completely relaxed character about his sudden progression to prototype racing, reckoning that ten laps was all it took last week to get used to the Zytek, and then he could go for times. With that experience behind him, it was no surprise to see him set the fastest time. The Zytek was almost completely troublefree, just a slight gear selection problem at one point, “but we knew what it was, and it was easily fixed,” commented John Wickham.

So a Zytek fastest, then the two Veloqx Audis. One of them made contact with the Sebah Porsche, Piers Masarati at the wheel, the white 911 returning to the pits on a truck. “He cut me up at the second part of Becketts,” said Masarati, “he just turned in too early. It smashed the right front suspension.” There didn’t seem to be any damage to the Audi.

The purple and silver cars looked as menacing and effective as ever. At the start of the session, Sam Li sauntered up to the Zytek pit to have a look at this chap Kerr – perhaps just to familiarise himself with his helmet.

Presumably he knows what Nic Minassian’s looks like. The Frenchman (with the home in Sussex) was reasonably happy with fourth best, but as ever it wasn’t a clear lap, his 1:38.8: “I had to pass one at Becketts and one at Bridge.” He was reasonably happy with the balance of the Creation DBA, but there was something not quite right with the set-up at the rear end, and investigations were going on after the session was over.

Sixth and seventh were the RML Lola and the Jota Zytek, the latter not seeming to run as much downforce as the other two, and the Lister and the Rollcentre Dallara completed the regular LMP1s. Joao Barbosa wasn’t at all happy with the Dallara’s handling, perhaps not helped by being virtually driven off the road by one of the LMP2s at Woodcote: he completed the pass on the grass.

The diesel-powered Lola was at the back, the Taurus team grappling with a wastegate problem, which stopped Phil Andrews getting in many laps. Lockie and Jones didn’t go out.

LMP2 was headed by the two Courages, but it was the Belmondo version that was fastest so far. Sam Hancock was first out in the factory C65, and was enjoying Becketts in a prototype, but found that the gearing of the car was all wrong.

Third quickest was Simon Pullan in the K2 Pilbeam. Ben Devlin was first out, but it was Pullan who set the 1:49.4, two seconds quicker than the next ‘conventional’ LMP2, the Randaccio Tampolli. “The car is good, it’s got a very nice balance,” said Devlin.

The Vitaphone Saleen was two seconds faster than the Larbre Ferrari 550, with Biagi in one of the Barron Connor Ferraris third. GNM was running in a fresh engine in their Saleen, so fourth was the A-Level Engineering Porsche. Eric van de Poele last raced here in 1994, in the BTCC, and it was very common to find drivers with little or no experience of the full Grand Prix track. vdP and Wolfgang Kaufmann had a reliable, grey Porsche underneath them, and “we have now got a lot of data to look at so we can improve the car,” said the German.

GT was the closest class of all, the Freisinger and JWR RSRs separated by just 12 thousandths. Johnny Mowlem and Mike Jordan were in the midst of set-up discussions, but the new team seems to have a very competitive car here.

The Cirtek Porsche was an unsurprising third fastest, with fourth (and no surprise to us) the Chamberlain-Synergy TVR. Jonny Kane and Warren Hughes admitted that they’ve got some dialling in to do with the TVR, but the purple car is looking very competitive already. “At the end of the Snetterton test it felt really good,” said Kane, “so we’ve just got to work away at it to get it as good as that here.” Warren Hughes was first out, for his first ever laps in the car – and came away very impressed. Bob Berridge was feeling very good about his driver choices and progress with the car.

Robin Liddell was exploring the performance of the T2M Porsche – and it’s sequential shift, with an H-pattern gearbox. “It’s a really interesting system: Ikeya Formula in Japan have developed it, and it works very well. It’s like a slow sequential, but you can flat shift with it, and it stops a clumsy driver going from, say, fifth to second by mistake. It’s beautifully engineered.” The T2M Porsche had “masses of understeer” but the Scot was expecting to find at least a second and a half of the two and a half that separated him from the Freisinger and JWR cars.

The Choroq Porsche was in trouble with a misfire, but otherwise cars seemed to be in more or less their expected positions.

Apologies for the late posting of this report: we’ve had to rush to Stansted and back (well, Lordy has), and it was a late session anyway.

Last comment from day 1 at Silverstone. Taurus Sports has struck up a partnership with Hartridge, a company which manufactures fuelling and test equipment for companies such as Caterpillar. Hartridge will begin looking at the V10 diesel next week, focusing on mapping at low speeds, the kind of work that can’t be carried out on a dyno., because the engine speeds are too slow. Expect Lola diesel progress to be identifiable by Spa next month.

 

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