David Bartrum's Blog
24th August 2013
The Snetterton race weekend went really, really well. Free practice was okay but in qualifying Aron had a fairly sizeable shunt, the worst we've had in a while. It was our worst NGTC shunt, certainly.
It stopped qualifying with a red flag and they spent time bringing the car back and fixing barriers. That messed Mat up as well, because he hadn't done his run at that point. Snetterton is a very peculiar circuit and the times just went away and when they re-started the session it was impossible to go faster.
No one went faster and Mat was stuck in P13, but Aron had done a good job before the shunt and got P6. Aron had a badly hurt car, but a night's work on Saturday night got it fixed. It was a proper hit but we had everything we needed. The good thing about NGTC is that the parts truck is there on hand and GPRM are quite good at what they do. They carried the bits we needed. The team did well and got done by about midnight. It was a sterling effort from the guys and the car looked like new.
We knew we had a good car and even Mat wasn't downbeat with P13 because he knew the car would have been much better. If Aron hadn't had a bit of a moment on one lap he did and lifted at Coram, that would have put him fourth and Mat's ideal lap showed up as one position better than that. So it showed that the work we'd done recently had worked.
We went into race day full of apprehension and race one is always the same, keep out of trouble, stay on the track and move forward for race two. In race two, you do your work for race three. They both raced very, very well. Mat got himself up to eighth from 13th with some good battling and Aron stayed in sixth and showed good pace.
That put us in good stead for race two and they got up to third and fourth, with Aron in third to get our first podium of the year, which was very good. We were very happy with that and it all felt very good. I think we ended up with fifth and sixth for race three, which wasn't bad. Off we went and all got racing, and once again a Honda hit a BMW, which was quite fortuitous for us and we ended up second and third.
But that wasn't the whole story. Mat took second and got us an Independent win, which was really, really nice. Then the little surprise for me was when Dan Mayo came along and said we'd won the Teams Trophy as well. We'd out-scored all the other teams, so we were over the moon. I came away from Snetterton really happy.
Then we went GT racing at Brands Hatch, my home circuit. I'm always happy to go racing at Brands because I can sleep in my own bed! We had quite a few senior guests for Ahmad Al Harthy and well as the usual stalkers for Michael Caine! We had about 20 guests from Oman including Ahmad's brother, which was quite nice, as well as some important sponsors looking at us for next year.
We've still got the weight penalty we are carrying and we can't do anything about that. We qualified 20th and I think we could have been better than that: I think we should have been aiming at 15th, which sounds terrible. But in the race, as usual, the boys got their heads down. Ahmad drove an absolute stormer of a first stint and made up some places. He finished his stint with the rear corner of the car on fire!
Believe it or not, that was under control. We saw it going past the pits and I ran up to the other end of the pits to watch it going on to the Grand Prix circuit. I was able to have a good look at the left rear corner of the car to see what it was. Ahmad had reported contact at the start of the race: he'd been hit in the bumper, which pushed the bumper into the exhaust so it was only a matter of time before it was going to start burning.
The bumper is carbon, so the fire wasn't going to go past it. We knew that, but the marshals didn't. I radioed to Ahmad not to stop and to keep going. We were into the pit window. So I watched it come off the Grand Prix circuit and was able to tell the boys how to deal with it. They were ready and waiting and put it out with water literally as he stopped.
They repaired the bumper, carried out the stop for fuel and tyres and we were bang on the time. So Michael took the car over and out he went. The boys once again did a really good job in the pit stop. They've been first class all season. Michael went out and put in a storming drive, but about half way into his stint he was getting fumes into the cockpit from the damage to the exhaust.
He radioed in and said he was alright at that stage. I said I'd go and watch his sector times, because if his time dropped off but he said he was okay I'd bring him in. But he finished the race and kept the points: it maintained our 100% scoring record and we're the only team in British GT to do that.
Michael was a bit woozy when he got out of the car and he spent the week tasting exhaust fumes and had a headache. I don't think it affected his car selling ability! He did a really good job in the race and to get seventh place was some achievement. I was very, very pleased with that as we came out of Brands still in fourth place in the championship.
We then switched back into touring car mode for the long trip north to Scotland and Knockhill.