What an amazing weekend that was for the Pro Class drivers!
There were several high-profile One-Hit Wonders join us at Silvertone for Round 5, and the extra competition seemed to drive everyone on to reach new heights. We had new Time Attack Lap Records set in all three Pro classes!
In recent times SVA Imports have earned a reputation for saving their best until last. If you are familiar with the story of their wins at either the 2013 European Time Attack Masters or even the final round of last year’s UK Time Attack Championship at Brands Hatch, you’ll know what we mean. For those who aren’t, it basically means SVA Imports and Gareth Lloyd don’t always show us what they’re truly capable of until the Final.
And so it proved at Silverstone. Going into Round 5, the Pro Extreme Lap Record for Silverstone National circuit was the 58.444 second lap, set by Olly Clark in the RCM GSII Impreza at Round 1. While the outright Time Attack lap record was the 57.989 set in the Pro Class by the same team but in GSI back in 2009.
With some new aero on the SVA car for this round, Gareth went out in the Warm-Up session without his transponder in the car, so he didn’t even appear on the timing sheets. Tactical? Possibly, but the SVA Evo re-appeared on the timing sheets in the Practice session (57.534, 2nd in session), already faster than the old records. He then followed that up with a 55.618 in Qualifying, but was still in second place, just half a second off top spot.
Going into the final, it was starting to look like being Olly and RCM’s day. Let’s be blunt about this, Olly Clark had topped the timing sheets in every session, starting in the 56-second range and then consistently in the 55s. However, when the Final came around, SVA turned everything up to 11. They also switched on their nitrous oxide injection system, something that team principle Raef admits they hadn’t used all year, until now. Gareth went out, eyes focused on the high-speed apexes and the challenge of effectively driving a new car. His first flying lap stunned everyone. A 54.116, a lap that smashed the Pro Extreme and outright Time Attack lap records – proving to be over a second faster than his nearest rival! A stunning achievement and a fitting climax to the Pro Extreme competition.
It must have been a strange journey home for the Roger Clark Motorsport team. Having been beaten in the Final by Gareth and SVA must have been disappointing but it’s impossible for their day to have gone better up to that point; fastest in every session, breaking the old Pro Extreme and outright lap record in every session, qualifying in first place and finishing in second place in the final. That’s 140 points from a possible maximum of 150, and a huge step towards the 2014 Pro Extreme Championship!
Olly recorded a 56.006 in the Warm-Up, a 55.574 in Practice and a 55.195 in Qualifying. Stunning and consistent lap times, all without using GSII’s maximum tune, which includes nitrous oxide injection. That was saved for the Final, but a mixture of red flags, traffic and an intermittent gearbox ECU niggle that prevented gearchanges and forced Olly to keep re-setting the system, meant Olly never got the absolute maximum out of the car. Still, as RCM’s resident genius Matt Clark admits, it was a very positive day all round for the team leading the Championship: “At the start of the day I wanted a 55 second lap, so we have to be happy. Of course, when you get a 55 you then want a 54! We didn’t have a perfect final session but we can be very positive about the times we achieved and where it leaves us in the Championship. In general, it was a great day of Time Attack competition.”
Where to start with our fastest One-Hit Wonder Andy Forrest and his 6-cylinder Subaru Impreza? Making his Time Attack debut at Silverstone, this is a car that is well-known amongst tuning enthusiasts and recently became the 2014 Ten Of The Best Champion. How did he get on? Very well in terms of lap time – beating the old Time Attack lap record in the Warm-Up with his fastest time of the day (57.011)!
That was on old tyres and low boost (V-Power fuel, 1.2bar boost and around 720bhp). As the day progressed Andy went through the stages of increasing boost (hence horsepower), and fitting stickier tyres (from the old used BTCC-spec ones he started with, through to 3-year old sprint slicks before unwrapping a new set of slicks for the Final). However, Andy battled with a misfire after that first session, eventually replacing one of the turbochargers with help from the Time Attack paddock; Paul Blamire supplied the replacement turbo, and it was fitted to a hot engine bay (ouch!) by Andy, Steven Darley of SD Motorsport and Phil from RA Motorsport. Well done guys!
Unfortunately the misfire re-appeared, most likely a boost control issue that can be easily solved but working against the clock between sessions, the guys did amazingly well just to replace the turbo and keep going. So we never got to see the result of Andy’s maximum attack setting (new slicks, 2bar boost and around 1,000bhp!). Even so, Andy was very pleased to have beaten the old lap record on his first proper hot lap, on old tyres and low boost. An amazing achievement in itself.
A very special car and Andy is clearly no slouch behind the wheel. We hope to see Andy back at Time Attack very soon.
Another very special bespoke car that pushes the boundaries performance tuning. Simon Norris is a familiar name in Time Attack circles, and his unique Mitsubishi Evo features extreme modifications including a huge chunk missing from the middle, making it the only short-wheelbase Mitsubishi Evo we are aware of in the entire world!
Simon had just set a new UK drag racing record for Mitsubishi Evos at Santa Pod in the lead-up to the event (8.72 secs at 164.9mph!) So that shows you what this car is capable of in a straight line. With racing experience behind him too, Simon is able to come in and compete at the top table of UK Time Attack.
Unfortunately Simon had an intermittent misfire that plagued his day, but he was still able to put in some impressive lap times.
“Things didn’t quite go according to plan” – That’s how Ronnie Amis summed up Round 5. The Golf was understeering in the early sessions, which the team later discovered was due to a broken anti-roll bar. With that fixed, Ronnie headed out for qualifying, noting a strange noise from the starter motor. He took to the track and set the third fastest lap time, his fastest time of the day and 0.6 seconds faster than he went at Round 1. Showing that Ronnie is making progress in the left hand drive ex-BTCC Airtec Golf.
Sadly Ronnie never made it out for the final. when doing their pre-session checks a crack was discovered in the gearbox adapter plate. The decision was made to retire the car to prevent any further damage. The final round is at Brands Hatch, Ronnie’s home circuit. So expect him to have a stronger showing in November.
The sexy lines of Tim Hood’s TVR Sagaris were a very welcome addition to the predominantly Japanese competition at Silverstone. A hardcore version of Blackpool’s finest, it was clear from the outset that Tim wasn’t messing about. He was immediately in the 58 second range from the outset, recording a 58.909 and the third-fastest time in the Warm-Up session!
Tim went quicker all day, eventually setting his fastest lap in the final (58.449). This is a ‘proper job’ by the way. Under the bonnet is a 7-litre V8 Chevy LS7 engine mated to a sequential gearbox. It’s powerful, light and sounded absolutely awesome all day!
Huge Congratulations to Andrew Barbour and his NR Autosport Mitsubishi Evo for the perfect weekend; Maximum points, a new lap record and enough total points to be crowned 2014 Club Pro Champion with one event to spare!
Andrew admits he was praying for it stay dry all day so that he could really push the limits of the track and the car. he couldn’t have wished for better weather and the car was equally helpful, feeling really strong during the morning warm-up.
Andrew broke the existing Club Pro record of 1:00.26 for the first time during qualifying (59.671), before going out and absolutely smashing it in the final with a 58.935! This makes Andrew the fastest ever Time Attack competitor around Silverstone National in a car wearing treaded 1B “semi-slick” tyres.
An absolutely amazing achievement by Andrew and the NR Autosport team.
The final round of the 2014 UK Time Attack Championship takes place at Brands Hatch on Saturday 8th November.