After a couple of disappointing meetings hopes were high in the York City Racing camp that we could rediscover our luck as we headed across the border to the wonderful circuit at Knockhill in Fife. As it turned out that luck was still missing but...
After a couple of disappointing meetings hopes were high in the York City Racing camp that we could rediscover our luck as we headed across the border to the wonderful circuit at Knockhill in Fife. As it turned out that luck was still missing but something that was on hand was a healthy dose of realism, as Jim Edwards Jnr explains, "We are still a very young team and, despite of a number of problems recently, we are doing exceptionally well and we would have been very happy at the start of the season to achieve what we have. We have enjoyed some tremendous results this season and we must work harder to turn things around and ensure that we do so again."
Qualifying After two fraught free practice sessions, which had seen 30 cars battling it out around the tight confines of Knockhill Circuit, TOCA took the decision to split the BTC-T and BTC-P classes and hold two qualifying sessions. So, in addition to the usual 43 minute qualifying session, there would be an additional 33 minute session exclusively for the production class cars. This decision pleased everyone as it ensured that all cars would have a fair opportunity to set a competitive time and it also presented the production class drivers with the opportunity to showcase some of the spectacular action that they regularly produce. The crowds were treated to a fine display and there were plenty of thrills as the drivers battled for top slot on the grid.
The niggling engine problems that have blighted our progress for the past few races were still causing us trouble. Whilst Jim battled round to pick up two starting slots, closer to the back of the grid than usual, Hyla was forced to sit out qualifying due to a further engine failure. Unbelievably this was the third such failure for Hyla in three meetings and, after the pistons and the valves came into contact, there was never any chance his car would be repaired in time for qualifying. With only 28 grid slots available and 30 cars wanting them, the rules prevented Hyla racing if he didn't run in the qualifying sessions and unfortunately, our entry was withdrawn.
Sprint Race Knockhill is notorious for it's adverse weather conditions and, after allowing us one glorious day of sunshine on the Saturday, the weather gods decided that we had been spoiled and dumped a rain storm on us as the cars were forming up on the grid. With the rest of the grid making the decision to change to wet weather tyres in the minutes available we were caught out by our small number of personnel. We ran out of time and were unable to change all the wheels prior to the five minute board being displayed and TOCA officials informed us that we were excluded from the race.
Feature Race The rain continued unabated and, with the previous race being red flagged due to poor visibility, the race organisers were forced to make a decision on how the touring car race would be run, if at all. After a meeting of all the team managers it was decided that the race would be started behind the safety car that would return to the pitlane after five laps and the race would start. The hope was that the field of cars would disperse the standing water on the track and make conditions safer to start the race. There was some debate whether or not this would be enough but, sure enough, after five laps the safety car left the track and the race proper got underway.
Jim made up a couple of places on the start but soon became embroiled in a fierce battle for eighth place with Tom Boardman and Alan Blencowe. This slowed all three cars down and ensured they dropped back from the leading pack that, in turn, had lost touch with local boy Gavin Pyper who was on a mission and who had driven off into the distance. Jim received a number of taps from behind and eventually Alan Blencowe was shown the driving standards flag after hitting Jim as they entered Taylor's Hairpin.
Jim continued to run in ninth place for most of the first half of the race until Spencer Marsh retired on lap 22, moving him up into eighth. Under intense pressure from behind, Jim ran wide at the final corner, allowing Alan Blencowe through but this ended up working in his favour when he later collided with Boardman, allowing Jim to squeeze past the pair of them. This moved him up into seventh place, where he remained until the chequered flag, despite being unable to see through a misted up windscreen and having to use his side windows to know when to brake and turn in to the corners.
Comments And Quotes
Jim Edwards Jnr: "At the start of the season we came out of the blocks faster than some of the others and reaped the benefits with a number of good results and a very good points position. However, as the season has gone on our competitors have been able to develop their cars and show their true speed, thus pulling ahead of us. We are still a very young team and, despite of a number of problems recently, we are doing exceptionally well. The team understand this and aren't getting carried away with those results earlier in the year and letting their heads drop. Every weekend we are learning something new - even if it is sometimes being learnt the hard way - and this will all stand us in good stead for next season where we will be looking to step up another gear. "
"I was bitterly disappointed not to take the start of the sprint race at Knockhill, but was determined to have a real charge in the feature race. The conditions were outrageous, particularly along the final part of the pit straight, and I felt I was at a disadvantage compared to the others who had at least had some experience of the conditions earlier in the day. It was impossible to see the first corner and therefore I had to peer out of the side window in order to pick a braking point, dangerous but bloody exhilarating!"
"My goal for the last two meetings is to carry on as I have been all year and to simply do the best that I can for the team. I would like to nick third place in the championship but with Gavin Pyper really coming on form now that could be tough. I do believe I can finish ahead of Spencer Marsh and be the top Honda Accord - that is something that would be of great personal satisfaction, especially as we turn up to each meeting 'blind' in as much as we have no data from previous seasons to help us set up the cars."
Hyla Breese: "Knockhill was a race I was really looking forward to, especially after the previous engine disasters at Croft and Snetterton. It's tight, twisty & undulating layout suits me a lot, but it was not to be. The worst part for me was going down to the chicane during qualifying and watching everyone - that part of the lap is amazing and only another race driver will understand what I mean. Watching the cars flick one way and the other over the curbs really got to me."
"The actual cause of each failure hasn't been confirmed as yet but it was a component failure inside the engine that caused them. I only completed two laps before the engine blew and I was still building up to full pace at the time so the engine wasn't under full pace stresses. Not only was I disappointed for me but for the whole team who worked very hard after Snetterton to prepare the car ready for Knockhill. But we are stronger as a team and I look back and see huge gains by the team in a really short space of time. We'll pick ourselves up, brush off the dirt and be back fighting hard at Brands and give it all we have to get some points back".
John B&Q: "On the surface there's not much that we can take as a positive from this weekend but when you scratch beneath that surface you realise that we are learning a hell in these tougher times and this will only make us stronger as a team. I am very proud of the team, and especially of Hyla, for the way they are managing these problems and working together as a team to overcome them."