With rounds seven and eight of the Green Flag Motoring Assistance MSA British Touring Car Championship being held as part of the ^Ã‘Super Weekend^Ã’ over the long Bank Holiday weekend, a party atmosphere was always going to be very much apparent;...
With rounds seven and eight of the Green Flag Motoring Assistance MSA British Touring Car Championship being held as part of the ^ÑSuper Weekend^Ò over the long Bank Holiday weekend, a party atmosphere was always going to be very much apparent; England had opened their world cup campaign on the Sunday and the Queen^Òs Golden Jubilee fell on the Monday and, to celebrate these events, there were many house parties and public celebrations up and down the country to celebrate both events. As it turned out though, the firework display held just along the road on Sunday night was somewhat overshadowed by the fireworks on that took place on the track the following day.
After fixing a split water hose, discovered during free practice, team newcomer Peter Cate suffered an eventful qualifying session. A crack was discovered in his exhaust manifold just prior to the first session and, being too late to replace it before the cars left pitlane, he was sent out with the damaged manifold hastily repaired. This meant an instant reduction in power and, being forced to push hard to keep up with the pacesetters, he ran wide at Copse kicking up dust and causing the marshals quite a fright!
In the first session Jim qualified in ninth place with a best time of 1:34.603 whilst Peter was four places behind in thirteen with a time of 1:35.736. In the second session Peter qualifying ahead of Jim after a major oil leak forced Jim to curtail his session after just three laps. Further investigation back in the pit garage indicated the engine was beyond repair and, aided by the long gap until the start of racing, the mechanics set about replacing the engine.
A heavy downpour as the cars were forming up on the grid ensured team managers and drivers faced a decision whether to start the race on slick or wet weather tyres. The lead Team B&Q Jet York City Racing entry, driven by Jim Edwards Jnr, decided to use wets but Peter Cate, starting further back on the grid, decided to gamble on the track drying quickly and dived into the pits after a lap of the circuit to change to slicks. It turned out in the end that Jim had made the right decision but, as Peter was starting so far back on the grid, it was worth a gamble for him to choose slicks. "We set the fastest lap by five seconds and, if it had been a feature race, or if the safety car had come out, the gamble would have paid off and we could have won the race by a country mile", vsaid Peter.
With the track being extremely slippery, caution was the word of the day and the usual rough and tumble of a production race never materialised. Jim Edwards Jnr bought his Honda Accord home in fifth place, behind Norman Simon, Rob Collard, Kelvin Burt and James Kaye. However, with Kelvin Burt being a stand-in for the banned Gavin Pyper, he was not eligible to score points and Jim was awarded points for a fourth place finish, moving him up to second in the championship, ahead of the Honda Accords of rivals Beacon Motorsport for the first time.
A quick start for the two Team B&Q Jet York City Racing Honda Accords saw Peter jump up into fifth place before the end of the first lap with his teammate, Jim Edwards Jnr, close behind in sixth, Jim unfortunately having been held up by slow starting touring class cars. As the pair approached Luffield for the first time there was contact between the two and both cars were slowed slightly, dropping them down a couple of places, with Jim now leading Peter. With the track now completely dry the team had finally discovered the outright pace they had been lacking earlier in the day, and Jim took full advantage, moving quickly up the leader board.
With Kelvin Burt in the Alfa and James Kaye in the Honda Civic pulling out a good lead, Jim quickly made his way up to third place on the track -- second in the points -- passing the Beacon Motorsport Honda Accord of Spencer Marsh, and a third consecutive visit to the podium looked likely. However luck proved not to be on his side and with a handful of laps to go he was forced to retire from the event when a gear linkage broke as he entered The Complex. Pulling onto the grass he was greeted with cheers of, 'there's only one Jimmy E, there's only one Jimmy E!' from the large contingent of York City football fans that team boss, John Batchelor, had brought to the event.
Peter Cate was in the thick of the action, suffering with a troublesome gear change. When he was unable to shift out of second gear as he exited the hairpin at Abbey, the Alfa of Alan Blencowe and the Honda Civic of Dave Allan passed him. Whilst he held on to the rear of these two cars, his car now suffering from a broken exhaust after being hit from behind, he became involved in an epic battle with the similar Honda Accord of Beacon Motorsports Mark Thomas, with whom he traded places and body panels. The battle between the two was probably a little too intense and both drivers were eventually shown warning flags, and called to see the race stewards after the race. Despite all of this Peter managed to bring the car home for a solid fifth place points finish.
COMMENTS AND QUOTES
Jim Edwards Jnr: "The team had been forced to replace my engine overnight after it had lost power in the middle of qualifying, but I seemed to struggle during the sprint race; I felt like I was doing everything I could but I just couldn't get the times out of the car. However a few changes before the feature race saw to it that we were as fast as we could be and, whilst the record books will show we didn't finish the race, it was gratifying to know we were running at the front on pure speed during the feature race. I was obviously disappointed that the gear linkage failed whilst I was in line to score a valuable 12 points, but that's racing."
Peter Cate: "I'm not sure where this result puts the team in the championship, but I can tell you that we are clearly leading the 'best supporting act' championship, with B&Q and York City flags all around the circuit! I am now looking ahead to the Donington test and the next race at Mondello, with new dampers fitted to my car. I will be doing my best to give the team and the B&Qsi the result we are all waiting for!"
John B&Q: "It turned out to be a bit of an eye opening weekend in more than one way. I felt sorry for Jim and for the rest of the team who all worked so hard to get a result, only to have it snatched away from them near the end. We have experienced the highs with two podiums in the past two meetings and to lose a second place finish with a mechanical failure is hard to swallow, but that is motorsport and that is life."
"However, and I'll never tire of saying this, our fans were again superb! When Jim parked the car he did it in front of a group of 40 York City fans and they all started chanting his name -- it's the first time that one of my drivers has retired from a race and came back to the paddock with a smile on his face! I'd like to thank them all for coming and lending their support and look forward to welcoming them back to another race meeting soon -- and to Bootham Crescent too, of course!"