With the season drawing to a close, the team made there way back to Snetterton race circuit. With a slim opportunity to clinch the title from his main competitor, Steve Linton was looking to capitlaise on the the long straights the course had to offer. Previous outings had proven the Supra a front runner through the speed traps, with Paul Whiffin finishing in the top 5 for all classes the year before including the elite Pro runners. Armed with fresh tyres at the ready, both cars were delivered with the usual efficency the team have come to expect from Richard Turnbull of Triple T Services. The decision was made to start the day on the used tyres from the previous round, in order to save the fresh set for Qualifying and then the final. Both cars were running well and the conditions were good, except for the blinding glare of the winter sun, which would prove to be a disadvantage later in the day for both drivers.
The cars were readied in the usual manner with a wash down and polish in preparation for the long day ahead. Routine checks were made to all major areas of each car whilst the drivers attended their briefing.
With the warm up session called, both drivers readied themselves in the cars and made their way out on track to refamiliarise themselves with the circuit and ensure everything was working as it should. Steve Linton managed a time of 1min 18.469secs, whilst Paul Whiffin did a 1min 24.299sec best for this session. The Lotus Exige S1 of Jamie Wilson did a lap in 1min 17.464secs which saw him first in class, but it was far too early in the day to take much notice of these times, as more was definitely to come. The weather at this point was cloudy but dry, and the team were hoping the sun would break through at some point to
warm the track to give the tyres better grip.
The recently fitted OS Giken differentials were providing greater traction out of the
corners, and allowed both drivers to get on the power earlier, which was a definite improvement from the old units. Both drivers returned to the pits happy with their settings, and confident that they could begin working on their times in the Practice session.
The Practice session also took place with cloudy but dry conditions so some parts of the track remained slightly damp, where the sun hadn’t been able to break through to dry them out fully. Not to be put off, Steve Linton managed a great time of 1min 16.182secs on just his second lap which would prove to be the fastest lap of the session, and good enough to place him 1st in class and 6th fastest in the Pro group as a whole. Paul Whiffin managed a best of 1min 21.255secs following a minor technical issue, that saw him only complete two laps in total. By this point both cars tyres were the ones they have been using since the Brands Hatch round, they were
starting to struggle, and the decision was made to swap them over before the qualifying session later that afternoon. Tim Moore and Peter Payne started with
Steve Linton’s car jacking up one side at a time and removing the wheels to take
to the tyre fitters van to be changed over. Unfortunately, there was quite a queue when they got there, as we share the tyre guys with the drift taxis who spend the day entertaining spectators with passenger rides for a nominal fee, but do tend to go through quite a few tyres in the process! When their turn finally came around, one of the wheels wouldn’t balance properly so the fitter spent ages trying to add the weights needed, but kept putting them on and taking them off! By the time the guys got back to the pit garage, they didn’t have much time left and had to quickly refit the wheels on the drivers side, and get the passenger side jacked up and the
wheels off and over to the fitters. This time the new tyres went on relatively easily, but the delays mean’t Paul Whiffin wouldn’t be getting new tyres on his car as there simply wasn’t enough time.
Hopes were high as the Qualifying session started that the new tyres on Steve Linton’s car would give just enough extra grip to place him ahead of the nimble Lotus. He started with a warm up lap to scrub in the new tyres and get them ready for a quick time. If he was going to clench the title, he needed to out qualify Jamie Wilson so the pressure was really on at this point. Unfortunately, having just started his second lap the TyreSure monitor inside the car started to bleep and Steve noticed a loss of around 3-4 psi from the off-side rear wheel whilst he was doing around 140mph down the Revett Straight. Realising something wasn’t right, Steve backed off and nursed the car round into the pits where Peter Payne and Tim Moore were waiting for him. Explaining the situation, both the guys frantically began pumping air back into the tyre using the foot pump (not fun I can assure you!) to at least give Steve enough pressure to try for a fast lap. Returning to the circuit, Steve started with a gentle warm up lap to see how the tyre would hold out, but frustratingly the same thing happened and he had to make his way back to the pits yet again. Fearing all was lost in terms of the championship title, it was fortunate in some ways that a red flag came out following a car spinning off and Steve proceeded to get back to the pits as quickly as possible, to maximise the time available for remedying the tyre issue(much to the frustration of the Marshalls I might add!). Tension was running high when Steve got back to the garage and frantic discussions took place trying to work out a viable solution with such limited time to spare. In an act of extreme generosity and in the true spirit of competiton, Mike who was also competing in a Toyota Supra on the day in the Club RWD Class, offered Steve his rear wheels and tyres. With only 10mins of the session remaining the kind offer was accepted, and team quickly swapped over Steves rear wheels for Mikes, with Steve still strapped in the cockpit ready to go as soon as the wheels were on and checked and the session resumed. With the last wheel nut torqued up, the session resumed and Steve made his way back out with only 10mins to go and on older (and slightly smaller) tyres. Despite everyones valiant efforts, the best Steve could manage was a 1min 15.820sec time which was his best of the day but sadly not quite enough to qualify ahead of Jamie Wilson. Paul Whiffin had a less eventful session but the combination of the bright sunshine and the awkward neck brace support, meant he wasn’t able to perform to the cars true abilities, but still managed a great time of 1min 16.381secs which was his quickest time of the day so far.
Determined to finish the season on a high, both drivers went into the Final looking to at least claim the round win. The tyre issue had been traced to a loose valve in the Tyre Sure sensor on the OSR wheel, which had since been tightened and checked. Happy that it wasn’t losing pressure anymore, the team refitted Steve’s original rear wheels to give him the best opportunity in the Final showdown with the little Lotus. The cars took to the circuit in formation with Paul leading Steve which as well as making for quite a sight, gave Steve a chance to benefit from Pauls slipstream and positioning on the track. For several laps both drivers played a game of cat and mouse which saw them pushing each other faster and faster round the track. With confidence being gained each and every lap, the braking points became shorter and this would prove to be enough to see Steve Linton set his fastest time of the day being a 1min 14.787secs. This would also prove to be enough to win the round overall ahead of Jamie Wilson in the Lotus (Jamie managed a 1min 14.824sec best during this session so was just a few hundredths of a second behind). Paul Whiffin also achieved his best time of the day on the same lap as Steve Linton (lap 7), being a very respectable 1min 15.833secs. With both drivers back in the garages and the season at an end, the team were really pleased with the final results. Afterwards we also learnt the guys could probably have gone even faster but Paul backed off when the marshalls waived blue flags at him signalling a faster car was approaching (that car being his team mate Steve Linton!). Had the sun not been in his eyes as much, maybe an even faster time was there for the taking for both drivers, but we will never know! Both drivers did the team proud and in addition to the 1st and 3rd for the round, we finished 2nd and 3rd overall in class which when you consider all the issues we faced over the course of the season (mid season class change, no new tyres available, blown engine for Paul and other issues), is a great result both drivers should be proud of. 2011 will hopefully see the team returning with even more preparations in place including: HANS compatible helmets, GT style side exit exhausts and even more power! We have to thank all our sponsors for their support over the course of the season, and we truly hope to see them still onboard when we return to Oulton Park in April 2011. Rest assured both drivers will be looking to regain the title spot despite the possibility of new competitors and cars who would like to see otherwise! Hope you can join us at some of the rounds next year, as I don’t know about anybody else but I can’t wait!