Brands Hatch Race Report Handling Problems Hinder the UK Team Pippa Mann and Comtec Racing ventured out onto the Brands Hatch circuit on Saturday for their first qualifying session of the weekend. With rain pouring over the track during...
Brands Hatch Race Report Handling Problems Hinder the UK Team
Pippa Mann and Comtec Racing ventured out onto the Brands Hatch circuit on Saturday for their first qualifying session of the weekend. With rain pouring over the track during Friday's practice, this was the first time the Formula Renault 2.0 UK cars would take to a dry surface, and lap times reflected this. Mann struggled with the handling of the car as she felt it slide heavily through both the fast and slower corners, resulting in a 17th starting position for Race One. Feeling that the problems were set-up based, Comtec made some changes to the car and sent Mann back out for Qualifying Two. With the handling problems still apparent but less severe, Mann managed to put in some quick lap times to take a credible eleventh place on the grid for Race Two.
"In the first session, we had gone for our usual qualifying set-up and because it was such a short session there was no time to make any effective changes," said Mann, who was disappointed with their performance. "My initial reaction was that something was possibly broken on the car, but after looking at the data it seemed to be more of a set-up issue. The changes we made did help in the second session but the car was sliding in both the front and rear, which made my job incredibly difficult."
Returning on the Sunday Mann prepared for what would be a tough race, attempting to climb back from 17th position to hopefully get up into the points. The team had changed the car again, still trying to chase traction and some rear-end stability. Mann managed to get off the line well into the first corner but over the first few laps the handling was still hindering her performance, though to a lesser extent. Following a three-car accident at Druids, Mann was able to capitalise on her rivals' mistakes, and avoided the chaos to make it up to twelfth place. From then on, she was unable to get close to the car ahead, but kept track position to cross the line in a solid twelfth position.
"My rear tyres seemed to go off within the first few laps, and the team believe this was also when the rear damper failed causing me to lose all traction and rear-end stability in the corners. I was able to nurse the car home but it was disappointing all the same."
The team looked over the car before Race Two and replaced the rear dampers hoping to alleviate the problem. Mann made a reasonable start but got caught on the inside at Druids. Dean Smith (Coles Racing) came around the outside of the corner so they were running side-by-side coming through Graham Hill Bend, this time with Mann on the outside. Giving each other room, they raced down the straight towards Clearways with Mann about half a car in front but as they turned in, Smith's right front tagged her left rear and she was pitched into a spin, preventing her from taking any further part in the race.
"It wasn't deliberate either one of us could have backed out of it and let the other one go. I very nearly made the move stick but it wasn't to be, and this was just an unfortunate racing incident."
Mann will return to the FR 2.0 Eurocup Championship this coming weekend at Le Mans, where she hopes for some better luck in the penultimate European race of the year.