With some great results so far and a long break to come until the final round, the team was looking to add to their points at their favorite circuit, Brands Hatch. Paul Whiffin would not be driving the deadly stealth bomber at this round due to suspected piston failure. This was a real shame as the car had performed well during a recent trackday managing to achieve a lap time of 54.4secs with minimal effort. Paul wouldn’t miss out entirely however, as he was fortunate enough to secure the use of Ben Weeks Supra for the weekend. Unfortunately, Paul arrived at the circuit feeling unwell which affected him throughout the day although the adrenalin rush did help when needed. Steve Linton’s car was running well and following a trackday earlier in the week, he was happy with the setup. The weather whilst overcast at times was warm and dry making for good race conditions and thanks to Richard at Triple T Services, both cars were in their garage, scrutineered and ready to go first thing Sunday morning as the transporter had arrived the night before.
Preparations began in earnest and whilst Paul and Steve signed on and had their driver briefing, the rest of the team got the cars dried off and polished for their busy day ahead. Because Ben’s car hadn’t competed this season, new stickers were needed and these were quickly applied in order to make the car compliant with the competition rules. With the transponders fixed in place, the fluid levels and tyre pressures checked, it was just a matter of waiting for the first warm up session which was scheduled to take place at just after 11 o’clock.
Being the warm up, drivers are allowed to take a passenger out so yours truly was fortunate enough to join Steve and I can’t begin to describe the heat when strapped in the car with long sleeved top, black combat trousers, boots and a helmet on!! How Steve and Paul manage to cope given they go out for a further three sessions and are wearing even more clothing than I did, I don’t know! Both cars were looking good and warm up ended with Steve doing a 56.255sec best and Paul close behind with a 57.414sec lap.
With just over two hours until the Club Challenge practice session was scheduled to begin, both drivers looked to find suitable shade and rehydrate their bodies. In addition to feeling unwell, Paul had returned to the pits and raised some concern over the brakes on Ben’s car so the team looked into it. The first thing we noticed was a large crack in the passenger side front disc and the pedal feel was also very wooden. Paul set about removing the Tilton bias valve as this was stuck but this didn’t remove the wooden feeling. The steering was also lifeless and devoid of all feel as to what was going on, but this couldn’t be rectified and would continue to be an issue throughout the day. The brakes were also bled and fresh fluid added, thanks to our sponsors Motul who supplied the necessary fluids needed.
The practice session was going well and both Steve and Paul were bettering their times throughout. The session finished with Steve doing a 54.541sec best giving him 2nd in class and 4th overall and Paul doing a 56.208sec best giving him 3rd in class and 11th overall.
The qualifying for the club class wasn’t due until just before 3pm so there was plenty of time for the team to get some lunch and enjoy some of the other events that were going on at the circuit. Paul had suffered a fuelling issue at the end of the practice session and had been unable to make it back to the pits so the car was transported back to us. Fortunately, the problem was minor and was soon rectified meaning both cars were still able to compete. Our main rival was a Lotus Elise driven by Jamie Reynolds who had joined Steve and Paul on the podium at Oulton Park and had managed a very quick 53.446sec best during practice giving him 1st place overall. The bar had been set and Steve was determined to better his previous personal best and get into the 53sec bracket.
Both cars began turning up the pace for qualifying and the times continued to improve. Steve was almost able to achieve his target setting a best time of 54.102secs qualifying himself a very impressive 3rd overall and 2nd in class whilst Paul managed a 56.419sec best putting him 17th overall and 4th in class despite the fanbelt snapping causing a significant loss of water, and him having to coast round the circuit and back into the pits.
It was looking decidedly like Paul Whiffin was out of the running’s as we didn’t have a spare fanbelt with us (ironically Paul has carried a spare religiously in the past but never needed one so hadn’t bothered this time!). Steve was running well despite losing the majority of his arch liner which tore off quite spectacularly (sorry for whoever was behind him at that point!) during qualifying, but this was removed when the car returned to the pits at the end of the session, eliminating any possibility of damage in the final. As the team sat waiting for the final session of the day, Paul’s brother Sean suggested that maybe the fanbelt on their Dad’s Soarer would fit as the 1JZ and 2JZ engines share a lot of the same components. In an extremely generous moment of madness, Alan (Paul’s Dad) decided to let the team loose on his pride and joy! (How many Dads’ do you know that would allow their son to butcher their car in the name of Time Attack?!). With the old belt removed and the belt off the Soarer in hand, Paul, Paul Tibbs and James Hawkins were able to fit the belt to Ben’s Supra. After a short test firing of the engine, it was decided that Paul would make it out for the final but would not be able to really push it as Alan would need the fanbelt back in order to get home!
The final began without incident and both Paul and Steve made their way on to the track. Steve was still determined to find that little bit extra and break into the 53sec bracket and I’m happy to report he did just that. With a best time of 53.962sec, Steve beat his previous personal best and was in 3rd place overall for the majority of the session, but was pushed into 4th overall on the closing lap. He did however manage 2nd place in class, extending his overall lead in the championship which was a great result. Paul managed 6 laps but was unwilling to push too hard given the issues with Ben’s car, and only managed a best lap time of 56.663sec putting him 19th overall and 4th in class. Given the problems he had experienced throughout the day, this was still a good result as it was looking decidedly like he wouldn’t make it to the final at all
After the award ceremony was finished, Paul returned to the garage to remove and refit the fanbelt he had borrowed from his Dad, whilst the team began the customary process of packing up the equipment and loading the cars back onto the Triple T transporter under the expert guidance of Richard.
After some careful calculations following yet another 2nd place finish for Steve Linton, it is with great pleasure that I can confirm he now has enough points overall to win the championship regardless of his result at Snetterton. Congratulations Steve and we look forward to the pool party to celebrate your success!
Paul Whiffin currently retains 2nd overall in the championship but by only a slim margin so it will be imperative that he has a good result in the final round if he is to give the team the overall 1-2 finish we have dreamt about! No pressure then Paul!
We now face a long break before the final round held at Snetterton race circuit near Norfolk on Sunday 11th October which should give Paul ample opportunity to fix the stealth bomber ready to challenge Steve for the top step of the podium. For anyone who came along and cheered us on including the ever helpful Andy and his wife from AET Turbos who popped in from time to time to check all was well (thanks again guys) a big thank you for your support.
Thanks also to all our sponsors for the part they played and the team look forward to seeing as many of you as possible for the grand finale at Snetterton in just over 3 months time.