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14-09-2007

Team Trimite finish 9th at the Croft Circuit

Saturday Warm-up

The weekend's meeting was to be a momentous one for the old hands in the Team Trimite squad, seeing the return of Neil Cunningham. Neil's career in sports car racing was started by Brookspeed back in 1997, in the Marcos Mantis Championship which we won together. We waited with baited breathe to see how Neil would settle down in the new car.

With an hour and a quarter practice session Neil quickly established the pace of the car. The main issue for the set-up was understeer, where the front wheels struggle for grip in a corner meaning the car won't turn in so well. With this issue resolved Neil posted a time of 1.26:17 to place us 11th fastest. Given that the car was the only one of the session to run on used tyres and that we were bedding in new brake discs and pads, we were all pleased with the morning's result.

Qualifying - Session One

By the time qualifying came around, things One:were really heating up. With a track temperature of 31 degrees, it was looking good for a quick time. Having previously only had 45 minutes in the car Neil set a 1.25:80 to place us 9th for the first race of the weekend.

Qualifying - Session Two

As Neil was our only nominated driver, he had to also run the second qualifying session. Traffic was a major issue on the narrow Croft circuit and Neil struggled to find the space to unleash our pace. Neil's time of 1.25:57 whilst faster than the previous session placed us 12th for race 2 against the faster "A" drivers.

Race One:

As we only had one driver, we had been given a 45 second penalty as it was deemed by the organisers that Neil would have an advantage over the other drivers by doing the entire hour alone. Anticipation filled the Team Trimite awning, Neil was eager to return to his winning ways with Brookspeed and we all felt the car had the pace to do well. We took up position in the pit lane and awaited the start. As the pack thundered past the pit wall Neil has missed a gear and fell to 11th at the first corner. However nothing was going to hold the car back, in twelve laps we had climbed to 7th place and were being significantly delayed by the Tech 9 Porsche. Neil was called in for his pit stop. The extra 45 second penalty felt like an eternity, finally the car was released to 17th place.

With all our hard work undone, it would have been easy to have given up the fight and bring the car home in 17th but we were determined to push on. Soon the car was moving back up the leader board when again we were being delayed by two Porsches. Neil made a move up the inside of the first car into a right-hand corner, being much later on the brakes Neil forced the Porsche to the outside of the track where it lost control and made contact with the front corner of the Viper causing minor cosmetic damage. The same situation occurred next lap with the second Porsche and more damage was sustained to the front corner. Once freed from the Porsches Neil was able to bring the car home 12th overall, Data analysis that afternoon showed that we could have finished 5th or higher had it not been for the pit stop penalty.

Sunday Warm-Up:


Sunday morning and salvation arrived in the form of Richard Hay, our driver from Thruxton. Richard had been racing in a 24 hour race at Silverstone, his car had retired and he had come up to Croft to oversee his production company. Richard was more than happy to fill the seat and the appropriate paperwork was drawn up. Immediately Aston Martin protested as they felt we would affect their chances of winning the championship. It was demanded that we start from the back of the grid, something we were not in the least bit concerned about. With two competent drivers and a car on the pace, we weren't going to be staying at the back.

Richard took to the track to acclimatise himself to the car and circuit and was quickly on the pace of the session.

Race Two:

Neil had to start the race as he had qualified the car, and duly took up his position in 21st. With a good start we were running 1 6th after three laps. Ironically, the car Aston Martin were concerned about us hampering, no.3, went off at the first corner and was now only two places ahead of us. Another three laps and the safety car was out after another Viper team had suffered a big accident. With the pack bunched up, Neil continued to move forward after the safety car period. By the time the pit stop window came around, Neil was running 12th and brought the car in to hand over to Richard. With a well drilled stop, the car was back out on circuit in 16th, once the pit stops were over our position was 14th, with the two very wide Porsches of race one ahead of us. Richard drove a solid stint and begun to pick of the cars head of him, with the Porsches cleanly out of the way he was chasing the Cadena Aston Martin which very kindly spun off in front of us. This was the first of a number of catastrophic mistakes from the well funded teams that meant Richard was able to pick his way through the carnage of the final 15 minutes and bring the car home a very well deserved 9th place.