Thruxton – 28th July 2012 – Sebastien Bamsey
For the Thruxton Sports 2000 Championship endurance race weekend, we set off early on Friday morning in order to take advantage of two 55-minute testing sessions that afternoon. Weather for the testing sessions was perfect sunshine and, despite the interruption of two red flags, both Nick and I managed to complete more than 20 laps each as we got to grips with what is the UK’s fastest circuit (an average speed of over 105 mph in a Sports 2000). Shod with brand new slicks for the second testing session, navigating Goodwood, Village and Church corners in top gear at over 120 mph was a real adrenalin rush!
The format for the weekend was a 20-minute shared qualifying session early on Sunday morning, followed by a 1-hour endurance race in the afternoon, with Nick and I sharing the driving duties and a mandatory 4-minute pit stop for the driver change.
Qualifying was frantic, with only 20 minutes for both Nick and I to warm the tyres, set a quick lap and complete a driver change. We both struggled to find space in the traffic but I finally managed to set a time quick enough for 6th on the grid (out of 18).
The ever-changeable British summer weather then spiced up our final preparations for the race…while I sat in the assembly area waiting to join the circuit, a huge downpour passed over the circuit, ensuring a very slippery start to the race. Nevertheless, we were confident that the water would quickly evaporate and decided to keep our full dry setup with slick tyres. On the green flag lap, around the back of the circuit, I could see the spray being thrown up by the cars ahead of me and I knew it would be a challenging first few laps on cold slicks.
Fortunately, I made a good start and managed to snatch 5th place from the Gunn of Tom Stoten under braking for Campbell, the first slow corner of the lap. Despite the slippery conditions, I found that I had a good level of grip when braking for Club, the chicane at the end of the lap, and used that to my advantage on lap 3, darting up the inside of the MCR of Guy Woodward and Anders Fredricsson to take 4th place. It was then a question of gradually pushing harder through the quick corners at the back of the circuit as a dry line emerged.
Towards the end of my stint, one of the Pinto cars had a big off at Church, scattering bits of bodywork across the track, and the safety car was brought out. Unfortunately, we were slow to react and only pitted after two slow laps behind the safety car, while the majority of the leaders peeled into the pits almost immediately. Sadly, that compromised our track position for the rest of the race. Nevertheless, following a smooth driver change and very solid second stint from Nick, in the end we managed to finish 7th.
Overall, it was a fantastic weekend of endurance racing and we learned a lot, coping with the challenges of both changeable weather and safety cars.
Thank you to the whole MCR team for their help and advice, as well as John Owen and Mike Turner. Thank you also to Clinton for his help on race day and to my father for his support and the usual brilliant photography.