Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Britcar 24 hours thoughts

What a great weekend at Silverstone! The Britcar 24 hours was indeed a very thrilling race and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to be part of the commentary team. In the overall scheme of things, I suppose that we were lucky that there was such a good battle for the lead – it certainly made it easy to maintain interest and avoided the set-in of boredom at any stage. Looking back on it now, and with the benefit of my notes and the lap chart from TSL (thanks, Tony), it is staggering to reflect on just how close it was for so long. By my reckoning, the no. 8 MJC Ferrari and the no. 22 JetAlliance Porsche were at it hammer and tongs from midnight through to the finish at 4:30 on Sunday afternoon.

Of course, the battle was assisted in no small part by three factors: the two penalties to the MJC Ferrari, one for speeding in the pit lane, and one for going through the red light at the pit lane exit; and then the fact that the Porsche was held (wrongly, it would seem) at the pit lane exit for a lap while the safety car was out. These 'external' influences ensured that the two cars seemed constantly to be battling with each other.

In my opinion, it looked like the JetAlliance crew held the upper hand most of the time, but from the moment that John Gaw got in the Ferrari with two and a half hours remaining, the prospects for Witt Gamski's team changed completely.

I may end up giving a full analysis article to dailysportscar.com, but as a reward to my loyal blog readers (however many of you there are), here are some highlights:

Time in pits:
  8   MJC Ferrari:               38mins 16.3secs (17 stops)
22   JetAlliance Porsche:    35mins 18.1secs (18 stops)
42   AZT Porsche:             38mins 35.9secs (17 stops)

Driving time:
8 MJC Ferrari:                 No of laps          Time
        Gamski                            41                1 hour 30 mins
        Robinson                       203                9 hours 33 mins
        Gaw                              241                9 hours 49 mins
        Dryburgh                         80                3 hours 08 mins

22 JetAlliance Porsche:    No of laps          Time
        Lichtner-Hoyer                83                 3 hours 44 mins
        Eckert                             86                 3 hours 31 mins
        Seefried                         130                 4 hours 33 mins
        Nykjaer                         168                 6 hours 56 mins
        Rich                               121                 5 hours 17 mins

(Note: For the purposes of this table I have excluded the penalty laps for the Ferrari. In fact Robinson and Dryburgh each completed one more lap than shown).

Which brings me to my contentious matter. I said on the commentary at the time, and I have done some further analysis since, and I am pretty sure that Martin Rich drove a stint of 3 hours and 7 minutes, in contravention of the regulation limiting drivers to three hours. The stint in question was from 22:42 (when the car exited the pits, starting its 161st lap), until it re-entered the pits at 01:48 (completing its 230th lap). In between, the car also stopped twice (during safety car periods), but as far as I know, there was no driver change during either of these stops.

If anyone reading this can confirm or deny this, then I would be happy to know. I am not about to mount a protest or anything, just wanting to establish the truth of the matter.

At the end of the race, there were rumours flying around that the Porsche would be credited with an extra lap, on the grounds that it was wrongly held at the pit lane exit at the end of its 16th pit stop (at 12:56, Sunday lunchtime), thus giving it the win. It struck me that this would have been ironic, since the Ferrari had already been penalised two laps, one of which was for going through the light at the end of the pit lane when at red.

Fortunately, from the point of view of the credibility of the series, the result was allowed to stand, although I suspect that the JetAlliance crew might well have felt disgruntled. But surely there can be nothing worse than changing the result after the presentation ceremony? And in any case, without those two penalty laps that were applied to the MJC car, the race would have lost a good deal of its excitement.

Funny old business, isn’t it?

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