A sunny Anglesey played host to Round 5 of the popular and exciting FunCup Championship, with Team Racelogic heading the points table by 21 points over Team O’Brien. We had a team meeting early on Friday before testing and decided that we would still aim for the highest place we could achieve at both remaining rounds rather than backing off and playing it safe. Where’s the fun in playing it safe?!
Qualifying was wet to begin with and slowly dried out, we held P1 for the start but slipped down to P5, until a last minute effort by Julian gave us P3.
However, yet again we had a poor grid draw, ending up second to last on the grid, with a lot of work to do in the race.
Saturday dawned dry and sunny but a bit blustery, and Joachim chose to start the race, as he had a plane to catch back to Switzerland. He managed to stay out of trouble, and slowly made his way up the grid into 6th place, although he was suffering a lot of understeer. He did three half hours stints in a row, but a small mistake at Church, the fast right hander on the back straight, meant that he heavily damaged the front splitter. This cost us a little time in the next pitstop, and a faulty fuel rig also cost us a little more. However, worse was to come when the safety car came out during a pit window. This is always the best opportunity to come into the pits, but Joachim’s radio was not working, so he sailed past the pit entrance as all of the other teams dived in to take a ‘free’ pitstop. He then got stuck behind the safety car, and by the time he came into the pits and out again we had lost a whole lap to the leaders, Team O’Brien who were absolutely flying.
When Joachim came in for his final pitstop to hand over to Nigel we were P13 and 1 lap and 20s behind the leaders. Joachim then jumped in his road car and headed for the airport! Nigel also struggled with understeer during his stint, but still managed to make up some time on the leaders. At the next driver change we found the front tyre pressures were high, so we dropped them down and Julian took over.
Julian caught Team O’Brien in his stint and managed to pass them to effectively un-lap ourselves. The car was now handling beautifully and Nigel and Julian set about whittling down the huge 1m 22s gap between us and the leaders, hoping that a safety car may intervene to make their jobs easier!
However, there were no other safety cars throughout the race, so it had to be done the hard way, and Nigel and Julian drove each lap like a qualifying lap, wringing every last bit of performance from the car which was taking quite some heavy abuse!
By Julian’s 3rd stint we had made our way up to 3rd place and were catching Team Scarab when his throttle stuck wide open coming down the corkscrew! He narrowly missed ending up in Parc Ferme prematurely, and drove the lap, de-clutching before each corner whilst pumping the throttle to release it. This happened on and off for a few laps, but then cleared and he caught right up again to the back of Team Scarab as they both came into the pits.
A fantastic pitstop by Scott and his crew got Nigel out ahead of Team Scarab putting us into 2nd place, and Nigel set about catching the leaders, which he managed to do about half way through his stint. He then passed them at the top of the hill and started to pull away. However, by now our rear tyres were completely shot, and needed to be changed in order to have some sort of tread for the scrutineers to measure at the end of the race! We certainly couldn’t afford a disqualification, so Scott made the decision to change them in the next stop.
Nigel came into the pits with a small lead over Team O’Brien, and Scott and the JPR crew managed to change both rear tyres in 13s! Julian left the pits just behind Team O’Brien who had managed to jump us in the pitstop. Julian then caught them and managed to catch a good slip stream up the back straight and pass them under braking into the left hander at the top of the hill. During the rest of his stint he pulled out a 10s gap and handed over to Nigel for the last stint in the ever decreasing daylight. Nigel said it was great fun driving in the fading light, but had to be told that he had taken the chequered flag over the radio as he couldn’t see it as he flashed over the start finish line to finish P1 with a lead of 11s.
It was an amazing race, with lots of very good close, clean racing. For the top three to be separated by only 20s at the end of 6 hours with only one safety car is a testament to how competitive the series really is.
The last and final round is at Oulton Park in two weeks, we can’t wait!