Derbyshire Reaches Hour 20 in Round the Clock Marathon
Northamptonshire sportscar driver Jamie Derbyshire failed to finish in his first attempt at a 24-hour race, in the latest round of the FIA GT Championship at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium at the weekend.
The Spirit Volkswagen Fleet Sales backed racer was looking forward to his first major endurance event in the 600-horsepower Creation Autosportif Lister Storm. However, a difficult race for the squad, with a list of problems, caused the retirement for the four-driver team on Sunday morning.
Hot temperatures meant that Derbyshire and the rest of the 40-car grid - including exotic machinery such as Ferraris, Saleens, Porsches and even a Lotus Elise - had to work hard in the opening part of the race. Derbyshire's driving partner Jamie Campbell-Walter ran as high 13th overall before a power-steering problem became the first of many, forcing the team to play catch-up with the rest of the field.
The initial problem caused the team a lengthy pit-stop and when fellow driver Bobby Verdon-Roe was hit by a Ferrari 550 Maranello later in the race, the team lost over an hour while fixing the damage.
The Lister Storm suffered from two punctures, the resultant damage from one causing the car's eventual retirement. The team also lost the bonnet from the car twice and had to send one of the team out into the Ardennes forest to locate one of them while the car sat in the pits.
The car was eventually retired after Verdon-Roe had a trip through one of the gravel traps around the track, flicking an oil belt off the engine. The damage caused to the engine was too much after the team's previous bad-luck and the car was wheeled into the garage.
However, the ups and downs of the weekend did nothing to dampen Derbyshire's enthusiasm and he was full of praise for the team and can't wait to get behind the wheel in the longer events again.
"I am absolutely exhausted, my arms and legs feel like lead but despite all the problems we have had this weekend I have loved the experience," said Jamie. "I had some scary moments, the lights going out on me in the middle of my night-time stint was interesting! But driving on the track in the pitch black with 600 horsepower under your right foot was incredible," he added.
"I was asked to do the day-break stint too, which was fantastic, the whole track was amazing at that time of the morning. We have had some problems this weekend but the guys in the team have worked so hard to keep us in the race. Bobby finished on the podium with this car before, but this year just wasn't to be, but that's racing."
The drive during the night and the strategy of the longer races has also fired Derbyshire's will to take place in the biggest race of them all in the future, the Le Mans 24-hours.
"I definitely want to go and race at Le Mans after this experience," he added.
Jamie's next race in the FIA GT Championship will be at the Grand Prix venue of Imola in San Marino, Italy, on September 5th.