Race 5: Troubling Times at Silverstone

On 23rd August, 750 Motor Club competitors battled on the International Circuit at Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, in the Cartek Roadsports Endurance Series for the penultimate round of the season. Rebecca and the Quinntech Racing Team arrived the day before, along with many of the other racers, so the team could test the Turtle Porsche. 

It was the first time Rebecca had raced on this particular circuit layout despite having competed at Silverstone several times previously. Therefore the four allocated sessions were very useful. After a few laps for familiarisation and some adjustment to the suspension and geometry set-up, the pace was exactly where they needed to be.

The usual timetable for the Cartek Roadsports Endurance Series is a morning qualifying session with the 45-minute race taking place at lunchtime. This particular round saw the race at the end of the day, which was something the team needed to adapt to, ensuring the focus of everyone was maintained throughout the day. Qualifying started off well, however a BMW M3 braked unexpectedly in the middle of a bend, which caught Rebecca by surprise. Her choice was to either continue and make contact or take action to avoid, the latter resulting in sliding the rear of the Boxster into a moment of over steer – which felt like it lasted longer than it actually did, a prime illustration of how everything feels much slower to the racer versus real life speed. The result of qualifying was that despite having only two Class A cars in front out of the 33 strong grid, the Turtle Porsche was 5th in class.

Rebecca invited some guests to the weekend’s racing antics, rehabilitating service men from Headley Court. The Surrey based hospital and recuperation house is where men and women who have been injured either whilst in service or during their time off are entitled to the same level of care. Whilst trying to stay focused for racing, she was able to persuade the Clerk of the Course to take two of the guests around the circuit in the Safety Car. It was a wonderful opportunity for them to enjoy an open track and feel some of the sensation of speed that every racer relishes. Rebecca met the rehabilitating service people when she taught a salsa class for them with Richard Marcel, Choreographer for Strictly Come Dancing and the blockbuster move, Cuban Fury, which Rebecca was one of the extra dancers for. Coops, a double amputee with hand and vision impairment said it “made his year”.

After the fun, it was time to get serious and discuss team tactics for the race. Due to the DNF (did not finish) from the last round, the success penalty from the previous completed round was halved, and so 5 seconds were added to the pit stop. The team members also discussed how they would achieve a podium finish.

Rebecca normally gets a fantastic start, as she seems poised with her foot ready for the correct amount of throttle in a bid to avoid the rear wheels spinning. Unfortunately, her start for this race was not as good as usual and she did not replicate the outstanding one at Rockingham. A good start is just as important as the race itself. Despite this, she managed to regain some positions and move her way up the field. It was going fantastically well until there was an unfortunate incident with the Lotus Elise, car 101. Sadly, despite being in front on entering the corner, the pair made contact, the yellow Lotus spinning and Rebecca suffering damage to the Boxster’s off side wing and bumper. She continued for two laps, monitoring the car and engine, but the damage was severe enough that she needed to come in to the pits and address it. The Quinntech Racing engineers taped the bumper and pulled the damaged wing out, so that she could continue to race and attempt to claw back the lost positions after spending more than 3 minutes in the pits. It was tense for the team as it looked like any hope for a podium had fallen completely out of reach.

The time out of the race meant that the Turtle Porsche had dropped down to 25th overall. It was tough and Rebecca’s relentless fighting spirit shone through as she let the competitive racing edge push her up the field. After some strong overtakes, and despite racing with a far from perfect car, she managed to finish 6th in class and 10th overall. Part of the damage not only included disruption to the aero but also a dislodged pipe on the radiator, which meant some coolant vapour was being released. Rebecca kept an eye on the temperature gauge whilst she battled her way up the field, ensuring her precious JMG built engine did not get too hot. Lap after lap she delivered times good enough to place her P2 in class, beating several Class A cars, boasting much more power to their weight. It was a blow for Rebecca not finishing on the podium, but the team members were delighted with her consistency and pace, never giving up despite such a set back. It showed that she has what it takes to be an endurance racer: grit, ability and determination.  

The winner in her class, Steve Brown, hands at the wheel of a BRSCC full race spec Porsche Boxster was a worthy one, as a former Champion of the Porsche 924 Championship, in Rebecca’s debut year, he is a very capable driver. The fellow champions discussed their similar vehicles and identified there was still more that could be done to develop the Turtle Porsche.

The team has got to work straight away to repair the cosmetics and rectify any mechanical issues. It will be ready for the next and final race of the season, October 4th at Donington Park.

Special thanks to Quinntech Racing, Turtle Wax, Michelin, JMG Porsche, Mintex, HiSpec Motorsport, BTB Exhausts, ITG, Valet Magic, Quantum Racing Suspension, Spraytech, Design 911, RACELOGIC, Rimstock and Ravenol who all play vital roles in Project Le Mans.