Tough weekend for Team ES Racing
Luton-based Team ES Racing endured a challenging weekend as the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship headed to the UK's fastest race circuit - Thruxton.
Heading in to the weekend Chris James knew it was going to be a testing weekend for the team in the normally aspirated Chevrolet Lacetti up against the turbo driven opposition.
Despite qualifying 21st James wasn't prepared to let his spirits drop and headed in to the first race with a clear goal of enjoying himself. Unfortunately it was to prove annoying after the aerodynamics of the car became unbalanced following the splitter breaking.
"A very frustrating race" admitted James. "Within 2 laps I felt something was wrong with the car, and little bits of carbon fibre floating around in the car didn't help! For some reason, without running any kerbs, the splitter dropped down on the car and split. The car was absolutely horrible to drive. It was under steering & over steering at different points, making it impossible to be competitive, hence why we were lapped down to about 12th place. The team suggested for me to come in & retire, but I wasn't having that - I wanted to finish the race!"
Following time to reflect on the first race and repairs to the car James went in to the second race in a more positive mood: "With a new splitter, 4 new tyres on for this race (we ran 2 qualifying tyres on the rear of race 1) & after looking at data I was confident for race 2. I was kicking myself as my line through the first tight complex wasn't right, and was costing me huge amounts of time. The race started well enough, and on my first flying lap I was over 2 seconds quicker than in race 1, huge!"
It was then that disaster would strike and bring James's 100% BTCC finishing record to an end: "On only lap 3, as I was feeling the car getting quicker & quicker, I rode a kerb in to the chicane and the right front suspension snapped! Obviously this was game over. This was just pure bad luck, as the angle of the wheel came down at the worst possible point against the kerb, with the full weight of the car on the right front wheel, which the suspension bracket could not withstand. I was very disappointed as within 2 laps, when the tyres were far from up to temperature, I was showing much greater pace."
For race 3 James looked to build on the initial progress made in the second race before the suspension failure. "After clearing my head from race 2, I was confident we could make some improvements in the final race. Again I got a reasonable start. I tried to gain a place or two in to the first complex, but in doing so I hugely out braked myself. I managed to avoid any contact and not to go off, but I did badly flat spot both front tyres, within 500 yards they were like 50 pence pieces. This was my own error which I was very annoyed about, and totally compromised the whole race. There was massive vibration from then on which seriously compromised performance & handling. I did enjoy a good battle with John George for the first few laps, but knowing the state of my tyres, I knew once he got past he would be quicker - as there was no doubt I was holding him up."
Summing up the weekend James remained upbeat: "Whilst I like the circuit, overall I am glad to put Thruxton behind me. The fastest circuit in the UK full of Turbo cars was never going to be easy. Whilst it was far from a disastrous weekend, it was very disappointing. I suppose eventually we had to have a DNF & a few issues, I just hope now that they are gone for a long time to come! I know a lot more about Oulton Park, and don't think the Turbos will have such an influence there, so I am hopeful that we can be more successful next time out!"
-source: team es racing