Magny-Cours: Ryan Hooker race report

RYAN HOOKER CLAIMS FIRST INTERNATIONAL TROPHY! A weekend of intense highs and lows has seen Upminster's Ryan Hooker rewarded with his first International trophy as he came away G2 Class winner with team-mate, Matt...

RYAN HOOKER CLAIMS FIRST INTERNATIONAL TROPHY!

A weekend of intense highs and lows has seen Upminster's Ryan Hooker rewarded with his first International trophy as he came away G2 Class winner with team-mate, Matt Griffin in Sunday's FIA GT Race held at Magny- Cours, France.

Ryan only confirmed his drive in the Vauxhall Monaro, prepared by Surrey- based Emotional Engineering, the weekend before and within 48 hours was on his way to Magny Cours. "The opportunity to race at Magny-Cours, a track I haven't been to previously, is very exciting especially when you are going to be alongside the FIA class. It will certainly be a weekend where I will have to learn fast - new track, new car, new team but I am looking forward to the challenge and I will be trying my hardest for Emotional Engineering" Ryan commented before leaving.

This was to be the Monaro's first race outing of the year and somewhat in keeping with the team's name it proved to be an 'Emotional' start! A selection of problems befell the team meaning they lost vital practice time on the Friday, sessions which Ryan was hoping to utilise to the full to get himself up to speed with a car he had not even sat in prior to the weekend!

"It was very frustrating" said Ryan. "The team were working flat out but we lost a lot of track time. On Saturday for the qualifying sessions our luck didn't seem to improve any! Matt and myself qualified but I still had very few laps under my belt and we were at the back of the grid so we really had to psyche ourselves up for Sunday."

Qualifying in 31st, the team lined up at the back of a grid which saw the best of the World's Sportscars including Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini take to the front to battle out the GT1 class and a swathe of Porsches in the GT2 class. For this round, the FIA series was joined by the British GT2 series cars for whom the race was to count as the second round of the British Championship. Whilst the Vauxhall Monaro races in the GT2 class within the British series a number of regulation differences in the FIA event saw a third class implemented, G2, which included the Nissan 350Z and Mosler as well as the Monaro.

The three hour race started in the continuing, blistering heat of the weekend. Ryan took the wheel for the start of the race and put in an hour long stint before the safety car was called out, which the team took as an opportune time to refuel and change drivers.

"I cannot explain the blistering heat" said Ryan after his first hour. "It is boiling hot, stifling and the car has lost its power steering so it's extremely hard work, especially on the upper body. This is a new track to me though like many people I feel I know it very well as it is the venue for the French Formula One Grand Prix. Actually, once out there you realise the corners are far tighter than they appear on screen and you are really working the car through the bends. Hard work but a great challenge to drive."

Matt Griffin put in a solid middle hour before Ryan was called to complete the last third of the race, having cooled down considerably! However, the car was certainly showing signs of overheating and Ryan knew it would be a delicate job to nurse the car to the chequered flag.

"It was like driving an ever tightening, coiled spring!" laughed Ryan. "I knew I had to nurse the car as best as possible and she just kept going! Within the last 20 minutes I was beginning to think I hadn't seen the other cars from the G2 class but to be honest was so intent on ensuring we got home I didn't think much more about it. It was only when we finished the race and I pulled into parc ferme and the team greeted me that I realised we'd won the G2 class!"

With the Mosler and Nissan out, the Vauxhall Monaro took its first FIA class win! After what had seemed like a doomed weekend in some respects, Ryan and the team proved the very important lesson in motorsport, the first priority is to finish and with that came some very welcome and deserved spoils.

"In a three hour race anything can happen" said Ryan afterwards. "It was so special to be on the podium at Magny Cours, to look down and see your family and team. It was really, really special."

-www.ryanhooker-racing.co.uk

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About this article
Series Blancpain Sprint
Drivers Ryan Hooker , Matt Griffin
Teams Nissan Motorsport