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Jul 28, 2014 - 04:23 PM
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Wheel Nut Costs Hampton Downs 6 Hour Win In TFM Ferrari
Posted by: newsla on Jul 28, 2014 - 04:14 PM
Sports Cars
Wheel Nut Costs Hampton Downs 6 Hour Win In TFM Ferrari


With horrible weather on Friday testing was distrupted often, but we made valuable gains with all three TFM drivers, Robin Gray - my 3 & 6 hour team mate, Team Principal Gerald Trass, and Reserve Driver Jason Friend. All three, and the TFM team as a whole, were all completely 'green' to motorsport before May.

 

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Of course in practice, there was a handful of laps for myself too, as this was the only time to get a feel for s characteristics before qualifying the following morning.

I was pleasantly surprised with the F430 Challenge, especially as it is built as a road-going race car with a few bits still more suited to supermarket car parks and city streets.

The car wasn't the quickest on the track by any means, but its amazing brakes and plenty of low-end torque were valuable assets come race time.

Saturday morning dawned cloudless but also calm and cold, meaning the morning dew sat for hours and the 40 minute qualifying session was a see-saw battle between a number of cars. This is always bloody exciting whether you're inside the car or watching from the stands!

Starting on wets like most in the lane, the first 25 minutes saw a 4-way between myself, John McIntyre and Simon McLennan (Porsche GT3s) and the McCarroll/Glasson Juno sportscar. All four were outdoing each other and lowering the benchmark lap for lap, finding more grip and thus more confidence with every turn.

I never anticipated a shot at pole but it was clear early on that we were in the genuine hunt. With 12 minutes to go the slick tyre call was made and the field fanned out on the 2.8km circuit for the final charge.

With John McIntyre sitting at the top and myself a few tenths behind, I finally found the clear lap I'd been hunting for in the very last minute of the session.

Head down, ass up was the attitude and we made our way through 80% of a mega lap when a red flag caution ended the session on the spot.

Though a little anticlimatic, starting on the front row was ideal and it was my 2012/2013 V8 SuperTourers team-mate John McIntyre who was alongside me.

Given neither of us ever enjoyed the unimpeded view in the V8s, I'm sure he was chuckling at the prospect of doing so this time around, as was I.

The Hampton Downs 3 Hour
1st in class & 2nd overall in the TFM Ferrari F430

The 3 hour is a 'race within a race', meaning Robin and I could run our 6 hour strategy, but be in contention for the 3 hour result as well.

The race got underway cleanly and I left for the the first few corners until the rejuvenated Juno sports car marched past and cleared off into the distance. We focussed right from lap one on a strict tyre and brake conservation plan as we had no data on the lifespan and characteristics of either in a long stint.

During the first hour I enjoyed a period battling with Nick Ross' New Generation NZV8, which was rapid early in its stints on fresh rubber. With Nick slipping by me during a restart period, I regained position soon after and we made a bit of contact exiting the turn 5 corkscrew, which triggered an immediate sensory overload as one feels and listens for any telltale signs of trouble.

With the all clear we continued in routine, circulating consistently and gapping the chasing pack. Both Robin and I completed a stint each to reach the 2.5hr mark, where we had to pit a second time due to the 430's small fuel tank. The extra stop on cost us the win as I chased down the V8 SuperTourer of DeVeth/Smith til the end, but all in 2nd place was a great prequel to what we hoped would be one better in another three more hours' time.

We also won the GT class honours, ahead of a gaggle of Porsche Cup Cars.

The Hampton Downs 6 Hour
Leading by over 3 laps, a wheel nut failure ruins our hopes of the win

By the 4.5hr mark, with both of us completing two stints each, we made our final driver change and I was back in the saddle to see out the final 90 minutes. Or so we thought.

With a lead of over 3 laps on the second place car, it was planned to drive in a clean but ultra conservative fashion to the flag, even if it meant losing a chunk of time to those behind.

Exiting the pits I resumed routine for the first four corners, until the fifth where there was a violent graunch as the right front wheel nut sheared off and disappeared into the runoff area.

I limped back to the pits with the wheel remaining attached only by the lip of the guard, and by the time the car was able to resume, half an hour had passed and we were out of contention for any result. It was a devastating blow for TFM as the new kids on the block looked set to get their first win.

We didn't packed it all in, electing to rejoin the field for the final laps in the dead of the night to be classified a race finisher, but it wasn't the 1st place we had our minds set on.

I find too many positives to call the weekend a failure, and it was rewarding to see the gains our new drivers made throughout the event.

TFM (Trass Family Motorsport) are a new team, but they are as hungry for success as anyone else in pit lane. With that in mind I know we will have plenty more opportunities to get that elusive win and I hope many more to add to it.

I must extend my thanks to Gerald Trass and TFM, and congratulate Robin on a brilliant first-up job without putting a foot wrong.

It's also pleasing to see the hard work of Dave & Karen Dovey (and entourage) who have worked tirelessly to revive endurance racing in the North Island to a professional level. I hope that this momentum combined with the South Island will see interest in a National title to fight for, in years to come.


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