Tech 9 – Four In A Row
Sean Edwards – Two In One Go

Perhaps that should read eight in a row (in four years) – because Phil Hindley’s Tech 9 Motorsport has earned an extraordinary reputation for winning championship titles since 2003.

“We won the teams in British GTs in 2003, 2004 and 2005,” confirms Phil Hindley, “and the drivers in 2003 and 2005 – with Pat Pearce and Matt Griffin in ’03 and Piers Masarati and Dimitris Deverikos in ’05. Adam Wilcox and Ni Amorim just pipped Adam Sharpe to the drivers in 2004.”

Last weekend, three more were added to the collection: the FIA European GT3 Drivers Champion is Sean Edwards, the FIA European GT3 Teams Champions are Tech 9 and in the Porsche Manufacturers Cup, Sean Edwards is the Champion.

It was in the last of these that Edwards’ points scoring was most remarkable. Only in the second and third races of the season was Edwards (initially partnered by Dimitris Deverikos, then by Phil Keen) not the highest scoring Porsche driver. So his sequence in the ten races reads 10, 4, 0, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10 and 10. In the opening race, Edwards and Deverikos, below, were second overall.

The last three events not only saw Sean Edwards as the leading Porsche driver, but he and Phil Keen were also first across the line overall – and it was these three wins that sealed the drivers’ title for the 19 year old.

Before the last three races, he trailed Patrick Bornhauser by 36 to 24, but at the end, it was 54 to 48 in favour of Edwards.

“Dimitris had a spin in the second Silverstone race, and that cost us 40 seconds,” explains the new champion, “while in the first Oschersleben race, he came into contact with Hector Lester’s Ferrari.”

So apart from those two races, it was a perfect Porsche score for Sean Edwards – but he and Phil Keen had to do far more than just beat the other Porsches.

“They were up against nine Vipers and six Corvettes,” comments Phil Hindley. “But Sean is mega. He’s 19 and it’s all happening for him. Keeny is the same.

“It’s worth mentioning that at Dijon, in the second race, their car set the tenth fastest race lap – but they still won. That’s all down to driver talent.”

But the Tech 9 touch is part of the recipe too. How do you manage to win titles so often Phil Hindley?

“There’s a lot of work going on here behind the scenes. The cars have hours and hours spent on them – and then we spend a lot of time deliberating over set-ups. Typically we’re fast out of the box and don’t have to make changes to the cars at the track.

“No one had been to Mugello, but looking at the track, we felt it should have been a Spa-type set-up – and our Spa wet set-up worked very well.”

Going back to August last year, Sean Edwards made his mark in the two hour British GT event at Silverstone, on the day following that epic wet-dry LMES race. He was racing a Porsche in the Invitation Class, which he and Stephen Warburton won, from pole position – ahead of all the GTC cars.

He then had an interesting weekend at the TAG Heuer event at Brands Hatch in September (left), finishing sixth in the first race – but being ‘biffed’ into the pit wall at a re-start in race 2, by none other than Phil Keen.

12 months later, and Edwards and Keen formed an excellent pairing, the latter helping the former to those European GT3 titles.

What happened in the first race at Dijon, Sean – the only one you two didn’t win?

“We were lying third after the pit stops, but we were 0.7 of a second too fast away from our pit stop, and the stop-go dropped us to 12th.”

But the win in the second Dijon race provided a chance at the titles at Mugello. Conditions in the first race in Italy were awful though.

“The worst conditions I’ve ever driven in,” says the champion. “The rain was torrential, and it was getting into everybody’s cars. The screen was misting up, I was loosening my belts on the straight to try and wipe the screen. But Phil charged up from ninth on the grid to second, we dropped to third after the stops – but the leaders were probably being a bit too cautious.”

And then the Edwards / Keen combination did it again on Sunday morning, and that was the titles sewn up.

Phil Hindley wasn’t the only entrant to have some real driving talent in his cars this year, but it seems likely that a driver grading system will be introduced in 2007, to prevent two top men like Keen and Edwards from winning it on ability – and a good car too of course.

“The Porsche isn’t very user-friendly at the moment for gentlemen drivers,” points out Phil Hindley, “so we’ve been invited to improve the effectiveness of the 997 in the hands of such drivers. I don’t think I’ll be able to have a pair like these two next year.”

The Tech 9 plan for 2007 is “three Porsches again in the European Championship, and we’re looking at two cars in British GTs, in the GT3 Class.”

For Sean Edwards, “it’s down to what offers and opportunities are available. I’m looking at GT1, GT2 and the Porsche Supercup. GTs seem to suit me.”

He has backing from SG Hambrose, a private bank, “and I put in some of my own money this year.”

Apparently Sean’s father Guy, a very famous racer in his time of course, reckons that his son has more natural ability than he had. It will be fascinating to see where that talent takes Sean Edwards in the future.

 

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