Pole position and fastest Lap for Kerr on LMES Debut
Robbie Kerr made a stunning sports prototype debut at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit this week. From the first timed practice on Thursday evening, until the first qualifying session, Robbie was the top of every time sheet in the Zytek 04S.
1st Qualifying: Robbie made one qualifying run and secured the pole position with a devastating time of 1:34.033, a full 1.691 seconds quicker than the No.8 Audi of Johnny Herbert.
The Zytek Engineering team used the free practice and second qualifying session to allow Silverstone debutant Chris Dyson enough seat time to learn the challenging circuit.
Race: From pole position Robbie controlled the rolling start to perfection and pulled cleanly away from the three Audi R8's and the other two Zytek's in the 38 car field. His opening stint was spectacular, setting the fastest race lap of 1:36.932 on his second flying lap. No other car would enter the 1:36 bracket for the whole 195 laps.
By the end of his first stint Robbie had built the lead to ten seconds before pitting. Unfortunately, the stop was slow due to a glitch when re-starting the engine and he lost this advantage. Returning to the circuit directly behind the Audi Sport UK R8 of Kaffer, who had also pitted. Robbie quickly re took the lead round the outside at club corner, having to use a liberal amount of kerb on the exit as Kaffer was reluctant to concede the position.
During his second stint Robbie had the misfortune of being turned in on by a back marker.
"I was coming up to lap one of the slower prototypes and was alongside him in the braking area and he simply turned in on me. He managed to spin himself off and damage our left front so we had to pit early to check for damage. We took that opportunity to put Chris in the car but of course we are now out of sequence with the Audi's on pits stops" Robbie commented
Chris jumped into the car and completed three stints which would set up a potential podium for the Zytek Team. Unfortunately he also befell the fate of trying to pass an unwilling back marker. Time was lost t with a spin when one of the GTS cars pushed him wide, dropping the Team a lap down from the third placed Audi.
Robbie returned to the wheel of the Zytek 04S to complete the final two stints. Immediately he set about trying to gain the lap back and put them into contention for a podium. At this late stage of the race it looked likely that all the leaders would have to make a splash and dash in the final moments of the 195 lap race, which unusually had not featured one safety car period.
Robbie pushed hard, setting lap after lap in the 1:38 to 1:39 second bracket. The gap was reduced in significant chunks until he had to run wide onto the grass, avoiding another prototype that decided not to notice a faster car coming up to lap him. This meant a quick pit visit to clear the radiator ducts of grass as the car started to overheat. After that, all chances of a podium finish had gone.
After a final pit stop for a splash and dash in the closing stages of the race, just like the second and third placed Audis, Robbie then bought the car home to complete his LMES debut in fourth place.
John Wickham was suitably impressed with Robbie's performance.
"Robbie has really impressed all of us in the team. He has worked very well with Chris in new circumstances for him - having to work on a compromise set-up with two drivers in one car. When we have asked Robbie to perform he has gone out and set phenomenal times. Both Robbie and Chris had some bad luck in the traffic, and that was the only thing that stopped us getting on the podium. Considering this was Robbie's first experience in this type of car, and that both the drivers had a pretty short amount of time in the car before this event, they have done a great job "
Robbie was unhappy to miss the podium slot, but enjoyed his experience in the Zytek
"It has been a very good weekend. My qualifying lap was good but even on that lap I had to overtake a couple of cars. I was quite surprised how much quicker we were than the Audis, but we knew it would be a lot closer in the race and that we had a tough job ahead of us. The trouble we had with back markers really ruined our race as a podium was definitely possible. But that is endurance racing. Working with Chris and everyone at Zytek has been a great experience. Doing double stints was the same as GP distance on this circuit and I have not had any problems physically so I am really pleased with that" Robbie Kerr .