Rockingham, 18-19 July 2009
Still no good news to report. MBE Race Engines are progressing the engine rebuild and have asked us to source the gaskets and seals needed to reassemble it. So I guess the engine isn't too far away now - just need to sort some budget!
Round five of the 2009 LMA Euro Saloon and Sports Car Championship took place in cool, windy conditions, but the rain stayed away.
Angus Dawe was the early pacesetter in qualifying, setting the fastest first lap and lowering the mark to 1:31.424 on lap 2 in his Class C BMW M3 while others were still getting into the groove. Dawe pitted on lap 3 and despite a lengthy stop, was unable to improve on his early laps. Andy Harvey (Class A Subaru Impreza) was next to take up the cudgels lowering the pole time to 1:30.644 and then 1:29.365 on the third and fourth laps. Joss Ronchetti (Class C Talbot Sunbeam Lotus) eclipsed this almost immediately with 1:28.971 while Simon Blanckley (Class B Seat Leon) and Tony Soper (Harrier LR9) were getting closer and closer to the pole time. Blanckley set the final pole time on lap 5 with 1:27.850 but Soper looked to be on a fast final lap before coming up behind traffic late in the lap leaving the front two rows as Blanckley, Soper, Ronchetti and Harvey. Championship leader Brett Walter (Renault Clio) was fastest in Class E and 8th overall.
The first lap packed in more excitement than all the previous races together. Blanckley and Soper got a poor start from the front row, Ronchetti went inside the front pair while Andy Harvey went outside, leaving them 4 abreast coming into turn 1. Harvey won the race down to the hairpin at Deene and amazingly all cars got through unscathed. Angus Dawe was on the move, from 7th on the grid he moved up to 3rd (behind Harvey and Soper) passing Blanckley and Ronchetti along the school straight before disaster struck. Going into the chicane at the end of School Straight, Blanckley tapped Dawe into a spin leaving Dawe's BMW beached to the side of the track. Ronchetti was caught in the melee and came to a halt with nowhere to go and fell back to 9th. Harvey and Soper crossed the line 1 second apart with Blanckley a further 5 seconds behind, from Simon Deaton and Gary Furst (both Mitusbishi Evo) next up. Dawe's car was in a dangerous position so the safety car was brought out and the circuit placed under full course yellow in anticipation. Leader Harvey caught the safety car at the start of lap 3 and although Dawe's care seemed to be clear by then, the safety car continued round for 2 laps before the race went green again on lap 5.
With all cars bunched up again, Harvey just held off Soper and Blanckley going into Deene and looked to be in control until he went into the final chicane too hard allowing Soper and Blanckley to move past him. Soper's lead was shortlived, within a lap Blanckley's Seat had got the better of Soper's less wieldy Harrier on the infield section. Ronchetti was moving back up the field, up into 5th within a lap of the restart and separating the 2 Mitsubishi Evos before moving up into 4th on lap 7. Blanckley had a 2 second lead from Soper at this point with Harvey a second further back and Ronchetti 3 seconds behind Harvey, but Harvey was now struggling to maintain his early pace. Soper had visions of his first LMA Euro Saloons victory since 2005 and was gaining on Blanckley, especially around the outer oval section. Setting the two fastest laps of the race on laps 9 and 10, Soper brought the gap down to less than a second. Using his pace round the baking, Soper drew alongside Blanckley as they braked for Deene but Blanckley managed to exit the corner still in front and defended the line into Deene for the last two laps, finally crossing the finish line just 0.367 seconds in front of Soper. However, after the race Simon Blanckley was disqualified for "an avoidable race incident" (with Dawe) handing the win to Tony Soper. Another excursion off at the final chicane saw Harvey drop behind Ronchetti on lap 11, the pace of the leaders had taken then 15 seconds clear of the 3rd place battle. Brett Walter maintained his winning streak in Class E winning by 5 seconds from Matt Walton.
With second placed Kevin Wendt missing this round, Brett Walter extends his championship lead with 188 points against Andy Harvey (150), Kevin Wendt (148) and Peter Challis (128). Brett Walter also extended his Mark Fish Clio Cup lead with 178 points from Antony Sullivan (102) and Jason Tarling (88). Renault top-scored in the MSE-Performance.com cup for manufacturers with 56 points and now lead with 580 points from Ford (392) and Subaru (318). Seat's 38 point score moved them up to 4th with 284 points.
Visit the LMA site for details of the LMA Euro
Saloon and Sports Car championship and standings so far.
Check out the current points
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