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27-05-2008

First Victory for Team Trimite: Rockingham Race Report Rounds 5 & 6 of the 2008 Avon Tyres British GT Championship

Before we get to the excitement of last weekend, there are a few developments in the six weeks between Knockhill & Rockingham that you need to be updated on. Firstly, after the second race at Knockhill where James & Jon had finished 6th, there had been a number of appeals lodged against the finishers ahead of us for overtaking under yellow flags. It was announced at Rockingham that cars 22,23,42 & 1 had been excluded from the race meaning the Trimite car was promoted to 2nd place in that race as well, giving the team a massive points boost to 2nd in the championship. Secondly, the organisers had made an amendment to the equalisation of the GT3 cars which allowed the Viper teams to removed their 48mm air restrictor and lower the ride height of the car. Some frenetic negotiations with the Dodge Motorsports European agent in France got an updated ECU and fuel system delivered to the team on Thursday afternoon.



Saturday Testing:

With a new set-up to be applied to the car, the focus of the two sessions was to gather as much data as possible as to how the car had responded to the equalisation measures. For the first hour the car ran perfectly, James & Jon were able to post consistent times. In the afternoon session however, the car sheared a stub axel on the near side rear, James was at the wheel at the time and managed to limp the car back into the pit lane without losing the rear wheel. The incident put an end to testing.

Sunday Morning Free Practice:

As the rain decided to settle in for the weekend, the team focused on perfecting the wet set-up. The car had been suffering from significant understeer and a number of different approaches made subtle differences. Eventually we found one that worked for us and a time of 1:36.62 put us 11th at the end of the session. Not truly reflective of what was to come.

Qualifying One:

Rain was now falling heavier than ever, on a sodden track, James stayed out for the duration of the session bedding in the race tyres. A time of 1:36.74 put us 3rd. A fantastic position and ideally where we needed to be for turn 1. In a wet race the mid-field pack would struggle for visibility.

Qualifying Two:

With a fresh set of tyres, Jon settled into the damp seat for session two, a 1:37.42 put Jon 7th. In the busy session there was little chance to improve on the time so Jon brought the car back to the garage to dry out.

Race One:

Prior to the race start, the standing water on the circuit had deepened significantly. After discussions with many other drivers and teams, it was clear that most of the field were unhappy to race in the appalling conditions. It was agreed that the field would do two sighting laps behind the safety car and then a decision would be made whether to race or not. The Trimite Viper formed up on the grid in its best ever qualifying position with James at the wheel. With only two Lamborghinis ahead, things looked promising for main event. As the cars exited the last corner for the second time the safety car pulled in and the race was underway. The 1 st placed Lamborghini of Leo Machitski had stretched away from the chasing pack, with James all over the back of his team-mate Oliver Morley. James wasn't to be impeded for long and quickly dispatched the #8 car. Machitski started to develop a lead over James until a water related problem put the #9 Lamborghini out of contention. With the race now under his command, James settled down into a consistently quick pace and was building a significant lead over the 2nd place RPM Viper.

The pit window had opened and a number of cars behind James pitted for their faster "A" drivers to take over. The team left James out to continue building up his lead. From the pit wall the team spotted the safety car waiting to leave the pits and immediately called James in. Fortunately James was just approaching the pit

entrance and dived in. The hand-over to Jon was seamless as ever and Jon rejoined the race in the middle of the pack. It took a few laps for the order to settle down after pit stops and the safety car period, but Jon emerged still running in 1st place with 1 6 seconds between him and the 2nd place car. With roughly twenty minutes remaining, Jon was being caught at 0.5 second per lap for the first few laps of his stint. As traffic started to build ahead, the gap to second place was dwindling. With the assistance of blue flags and flashing headlights, Jon moved through the pack to put some space between his Viper and the chasing Lamborghini of Team Modena. From there, all that was needed was for Jon to maintain his pace and the win was there for the taking. As the seconds ticked away the chequered flag was waiting at the start line and the team were amassed on the pit wall. The Rockingham "bowl" seemed to fall silent until the blue & white car emerged at the exit of the last turn; a spontaneous cheer erupted from the wall as Team Trimite took their maiden victory and the lead of the championship!

Monday Warm-up:

In a slightly less damp session, Jon took the wheel for the ten minute warm-up to scrub in a set of slick tyres in case the weather cleared sufficiently for the race. On the third lap the car suffered from a fuel surge in turn one, being a banked corner the car develops a significant amount of g-force and being very lightly fuelled for the short session the forces on the car starved it of fuel. With tyres significantly run in, Jon brought the car back into the garage.

Race Two:

Jon took up 7th position for race two on a drying track with slick tyres fitted. As the race got underway Jon took advantage of the first banked corner to sweep underneath the slowing pack ahead, up to 5th place and things were looking very good. As the pack disappeared behind the garages the radio fell silent, the leaders emerged from the last corner onto the straight and Jon was nowhere to be seen. Over the radio came the message "I've had an off guys. I don't know how much

damaged there is but it was a big impact." An over excited Lamborghini had lunged inside Jon in a very damp corner, forcing the Trimite car to the outside of the circuit. As the Lamborghini lost control Jon took to the grass. Running on slick tyres he had little chance of holding onto the car and the rear corner collected the barrier. From our position on the infield we couldn't see the damage to the off-side rear quarter, but the Cummins guests in the hospitality suite relayed the details to the pit wall via mobile phone. The rear diffuser was broken, the rear quarter panel and the wing end plate all contributing to seriously depleted rear downforce, making the car very difficult to handle. Power however had not been affected and Jon battled onwards from the back of the field, fighting to keep the car in a straight line.

The driver change was the first opportunity for the team to see the extent of the damage. James took the wheel but was not allowed out until the scrutineers were satisfied that the car was safe to continue racing. The rear bodywork was impinging on the tyre which may have caused a puncture. A significant amount of duck tape resolved the problem and James screeched out of the pit lane. Over two minutes stationary had undone all Jon's work and James was now two laps down on the leader with a significant gap to the cars ahead. Despite this, James continued the fight back, consistently lapping faster than the pack ahead. As the weather became ever more unsettled a few teams decided to make an extra pit stop to change to wet tyres. With the handling of our car already severely compromised, wet tyres would have made little difference. A number of casualties ahead and James was able to bring the car home a very hard fought 1 3th. From this position we scored no points but were still able to hold on to our lead of the championship. The team now face a busy two weeks to get the Trimite Viper ready for Snetterton.

More details on Team Trimite's race victories are available on