This weekend finally saw me complete races in the Cayman GT4 that I’ve trying to race in for nearly two years! A series of crashes had severely damaged the two cars my Canadian co-driver Fareed Ali owns so it was quite a relief to leave the Silverstone GP circuit on Saturday evening having completed two races, entirely unscathed – even though we didn’t get close to a podium.
I’d already had a chance to test the car after its most recent re-build as part of a shakedown day, accompanied by British young but talented LMP3 and GT driver Devon Modell, a week before. This was the first time I’d been in the car since preparation for the Creventic 24 Hour race earlier in the year and the car was now on different suspension. With both Fareed and I very much “gentlemen” drivers, the car was configured with Devon’s help to have a fairly neutral setup and I again found it very easy to drive, not showing any of the end-swapping tendancy that the Boxsters have. After three short sessions, I set a new personal lap record in the car around three seconds quicker than in warmup for the 24H.
Fareed took all of Friday (less time lost to numerous red flags) to test the car himself and with help from long-term Newbridge mechanic Marcus, together with Devon’s written notes (he was now racing in Asia), soon got back into the grove. After a long delay on the morning of race day, I then let Fareed take all of the 20-minute warmup session to maximise his time in the car.
Fareed took the car out on brand new Dunlops for four laps of qualifying and I managed the compulsory three before the flag dropped on the session, setting a time that put us a rather weedy 28th on a grid of 31. From the Britcar balance of performance system, we were classed with two other Caymans alongside two Aston Martin GT4s, three Ginetta G55s and a Porsche 997 Cup – so we knew that a sniff of a class podium would be unlikely.
Race 1 was to be 50 minutes and I was offered the first stint. My pace closely matched three of the lower order and we enjoyed a couple of great battles for the majority of my laps before being called in – in fact, both drivers later commented how much they’d enjoyed it, which I took as a great compliment on my driving. From 29 starters we finished a fairly respectable 21st, 6th in our very competitive class. I was quite please to learn from the TSL timesheets afterwards that I’d taken more than another second off my new lap record.
Race 2 took us properly into endurance territory with the final 2 hours of race time of the day and again I started the race. We were called early – unnecessarily as it turned out, leaving me to cook in the car in the assembly area for a good 20 minutes before we were released. The heat seemed to be getting to me this time and instead of improving on my times again, I was actually slower than race 1, posting my three fastest laps near my pitstop as I seemed to get a second wind. Fareed took over from me after taking on a single “dump churn” of finest Sunoco fuel and eventually took the flag 14th from 17 starters.
Britcar race next at Brands Hatch in July but Fareed cannot make that race, so we’re currently looking for drivers who would like to ‘arrive and drive’ – please contact Newbridge if you’re interested.
My thanks to Gary Harman and Sean Mulcahy for the race photos.