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Wet Masterclass at Silverstone

Chris Bassett had a testing race weekend at the washed-out Silverstone Track Attack round, but ended with another two class wins, along with a second and ninth overall.

Following one of the driest summers for nearly 30 years, it felt like a year’s worth of rain had dropped itself in Northamptonshire at Silverstone for rounds nine and ten of the Track Attack Championship. It was another new track to learn, but we came away from qualifying in ninth place overall – which was pleasing enough after still learning the circuit in extremely wet conditions with alot of standing water across many parts of the track.

Wet Masterclass at Silverstone

Race one begun with a good start off the line making up two places going into the first corner and up into seventh place. Over the next five laps we clawed our way through the pack and up into second place overal and in pursuit of Will Di Claudio’s very rapid Peugeot 106 GTi. 

I’ve always enjoyed racing in wet conditions since my karting days all those years ago and it’s these conditions that myself and the Peugeot package really excel in. Over the next five laps we closed the gap to Di Claudio down from what was over six seconds at one point to less than a second with just two laps remaining. With time running out, I made my move around the outside of Becketts. Unfortunately for us, Di Claudio understeered straight into me and as we entered Club Straight, I did a complete 360 degree spin. By the time that I had recovered, I found myself nearly four seconds behind. I tried in vain to claw back the gap, but with only one lap now remaining, time was too short – although we did get fastest lap by almost a clear two seconds which was very pleasing.

wet masterclass at Silverstone

We started the second race in second position, but too a gamble with our choice of tires. The circuit was still damp, but drying. It looked as though we might have another downpour, so I opted to go for an intermediate set-up which is something between wet and dry – with the hope that if it rained we would be perfectly placed to take full advantage of everyone else who opted for a dry set-up.

Unfortunately, the rain never came and we gradually slipped back through the grid and down to ninth place overall, which is where we finished. Ironically, the rain came just as our race had finished – had it came just ten minutes earlier, we probably would have been able to claw our way back up the standings.

Still, another two class wins, a second overall and fastest lap capped another good race weekend ahead of the trip to Snetterton in Norfolk and rounds eleven and twelve.

Our 2018 race partners are:

Etesia UK

Fusion Media

Spoox Motorsport

Tom Motorsport

Rock Oil

Sygnature Workwear

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A Win to End the Year on a High

A win to End the Year on a High. As the Track Attack Tricolore Trophy Championship ended at the end of September and with the car running well, we decided that we didn’t want the season to end and so entered the final round of the Classic Sports Car Club Open Championship at Brands Hatch in early November and a new race format – a one off 30 minute pitstop race.

We know the track so well, living less than two miles away, so we always class any race at Brands Hatch as out ‘home’ track. The car went into Tom Motorsport after the last race at Mallory Park for a ‘spanner and fluid check’ ahead of the race along with a set of new tyres.

The Saturday race morning began with a downpour which meant that qualifying would be wet along with the likelyhood of the race also being wet. Tom Motorsport set about making set-up changes to the car from a dry setup to wet setup and we headed out for qualifying.

I’ve always enjoyed racing in the wet since my karting days and I certainly know Brands Hatch well, so it was great to end the qualifying session in third place overall and first in class, ahead of some very quick cars, which in dry conditions we wouldn’t stand a chance against.

When we arrived back in parc ferme it turned out that three competitors had complained about the tyres we were using. We use Kuhmo tyres, following the recommendation to switch from Toyo by Spoox Motorsport last year. We have different compounds that we use depending on track conditions from medium, soft and super soft in very wet conditions. All this meant that we had to start the race on our dry tyres, which hadn’t been ‘scrubbed in’ and at the back of the grid in 24th position – yet more racing politics to deal with!

A Win to End the Year on a High

We’ve become accustomed to politics since we’ve been winning races and it’s all part of the fun  – turning up in our ‘little old Peugeot’, ruffling some feathers and beating some much quicker cars (on paper) and this was no different. While it wasn’t ideal starting on brand new tyres which hadn’t gone through a heat cycle or weren’t ideal for wet weather, I was still confident on having a strong finish in the race, having seen how much quicker we were in qualifying than the other cars in our class.

I was looking forward to a new race format in the one off 30 minute pitstop race and so we started the ‘rolling grid’ in 24th and last position. By the end of the second lap, we had managed to get up to 14th place and first in class, without really pushing too hard. By the time the race had reached the half way mark, we had managed to progress through the field and into 10th place overall before the mandatory pitstop. As it was only me driving the car, this involved driving into the pits, getting out of the car, closing the door and getting back into the car and strapped back in before being able to leave for the track.

A slick pitstop by Tom and Terry enabled me to make up another place in the pits. Over the remaining ten minutes of the race, we managed to get up to 6th place overall while maintaining class lead – in fact I managed to lap everyone else in class by at least two laps!

And so the racing season finished on a high with a win. After all the problems we suffered throughout this year, it’s always nice to return ‘home’ with another win which gives everyone a lift going into the winter ahead of the 2018 season.

A massive thanks to my race sponsors and in particular to Tom Burgess of Tom Motorsport, who without help and assitance from, racing would not be possible along with Spoox Motorsport.

2018 will once again see us complete in the Tricolore Trophy along with some appearances in the CSCC Open Series.

Our 2017 race partners are:

Etesia UK

Fusion Media

Spoox Motorsport

Tom Motorsport

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The Highs and Lows of Motorsport

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport. Rounds seven and eight of the BARC SE Quaife Cannons Tin Tops saw us visit the Brands Hatch Indy circuit once again which also marked the half-way point in the season.

The first half couldn’t really have gone much better. A third, three second’s and two wins saw us sitting in 1st position in the championship standings (Class T2) and third overall. But as someone once said, there is about 90% pain and 10% enjoyment in motorsport and so it proved.

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

 

We began qualifying in high spirits on a very wet track – the wet weather suits our Peugeot package and I am always confident in these conditions. The track was wet for the start of qualifying, but then the really hard rain began to fall half way the session which was probably the worst weather I’ve driven in.

Lots of standing water could be seen on various points of the circuit and you always felt that there could be an accident just waiting to happen.

We had an altercation with a Citroen Saxo coming out of Paddock Hill Bend when Chris Bicknell span in front of me and I had nowhere to go. Luckily it was only very minor contact and we were able to carry on. Two laps later, we were pushed on to the grass when lapping the Ford Puma of Adrian Matthews.

When the session finished, it was pleasing to see another pole. We ended up nearly four tenths of a second ahead of Rod Birley in the Honda Integra and then almost three seconds ahead of Terry Searles and Chris Whiteman (MG ZR 190 and Honda Civic Type R respectively).The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

The first race was the next day on the Sunday and with it, a dry track. The rain dance the night before obviously hadn’t worked! It was expected that some drivers might gain whereas others would lose out from the previous day’s wet qualifying. From the rolling start we just held the lead as both Birley and Whiteman pressured. Whiteman powered past to lead at the end of lap one, but then slipped wide at Paddock bend on lap three, allowing both us and Birley back through.

There then followed a titanic battle between the three of us as we began to pull clear of the chasing pack but were less than a second apart, until Birley had a misfire causing him to fall back. Whiteman then powered clear on the main straight and continued to lead until someone dropped oil pretty much all of the way around the track.

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

 

While starting to pass the back-makers, I made my move down the inside of the Honda going into Clearways, forcing Whiteman wide in the process.  The Honda then hit some oil towards the outside and spun, allowing us to regain the lead . At one point we had a ten second lead, but with one eye on the rear view mirror decided to take it easy to ensure the win and strengthen our position in the championship taking no risks when lapping the slower cars.

Another top step of the podium beckoned and we cruised to our third outright win of the season. After a hectic first half of the race, which saw us swap the lead with Chris Whiteman four times, it was nice to take a leisurely drive to the chequered flag.The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport

Race two saw us once again start the race in pole position, but that is about as good as it got. As we powered down to the short run into Paddock Hill Bend, Chris Whiteman pulled slightly ahead, but on the outside line.

We braked into the first corner, still side by side, and all of a sudden the back of the car stepped out before a massive slide. I was able to hold it all together, thinking I had pushed too hard too early on cold tyres, but as we entered Druids, the same happened again – another big slide, but again, I was able to collect it.

As I was coming out of the corner and down the hill, a big spray of fluid came up from the bonnet and over the windscreen. I then slowed down and ended up coming into the pits.

The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk The Highs and Lows of Motorsport www.chrisbassett.co.uk

 

A quick inspection under the bonnet from Tom Motorsport and it was game over for the day – a split water hose (probably the cheapest part on the car) caused fluid to leak on to our tyres and causing the spin before our first DNF of the season.

Later during the race, David Packham had a nasty looking accident, but it was pleasing to see him walk away before an overnight stay in hospital.

And so it ended. We’ve reached the half-way point in the season and after some consistent finishes which saw us gain three outright wins, a DNF has hampered our season. We headed in to these rounds leading the class championship, but now we find ourselves in second position behind Chris Whiteman’s Honda Civic Type R, albeit it just 17 points adrift.

Both myself as the driver and Tom Motorsport who prepare the Peugeot; have come a long way in two seasons. When we started out, we were hoping for top six positions and reliability and now we’re fighting for race wins each race.

So, as we head into the second half of the season, what are our future hopes? A few more highs, not many lows – much of the same please!

A big thank you to my race sponsors Complete Ice Control, Complete Weed Control, Etesia UK, Fusion Media and Tom Motorsport who prepares the car.

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SPOOX TOM MOTORSPORTS Fusion Media
Chris Bassett