SWR QUARTET IMPRESS AT ROCKINGHAM Team SWR's four drivers all drove superb races in round six of the 2005 Formula BMW UK Championship at Rockingham, but sadly this event will be remembered as an opportunity missed, after an error led to all four...
SWR QUARTET IMPRESS AT ROCKINGHAM
Team SWR's four drivers all drove superb races in round six of the 2005 Formula BMW UK Championship at Rockingham, but sadly this event will be remembered as an opportunity missed, after an error led to all four running short of fuel in the final moments.
Team Principal Trevor Powell bravely shouldered the blame for the problem that took Oliver Turvey and Paul Rees right out of the race, severely delayed Matt Harris, and almost cost Lars Viljoen a career best seventh place.
"I have to put my hands up and take all the blame for this. It was entirely my error," said Powell. "All four drivers performed way beyond even our expectations, the team members did their job perfectly.
Unfortunately I made an error in the morning and carried the wrong baseline figure through to the second race, so although the calculations were correct, the error was already built in. In all the time I've worked in motorsport, I have never before allowed a car of mine to run out of fuel in qualifying or a race. I am truly sorry that it happened."
Prior to that last minute drama, this had been an exceptional race for the SWR drivers. Turvey, back with the team for his first races since the end of 2004, qualified eighth in Saturday afternoon's wet session, with team-mates Harris, Rees and Viljoen lining up 14th, 18th and 20th respectively. With dry conditions for the race, and no shortage of overtaking opportunities at Rockingham, all four were expecting to make progress in the race. The most dramatic gains were made by Viljoen, who climbed an astonishing eight places on the very first lap. His progress didn't stop there, as Lars proceeded to charge into the points scoring positions, eventually reaching seventh place. Although he was affected by the fuel problems, Viljoen did make it to the chequered flag to secure his points.
"Astounding -- that's the only way to describe the way that Lars was driving," said Powell. "His overtaking moves were incredible, he was diving past two, three cars at a time. It was tremendous to watch."
Also making a big impact was Turvey, who was far from rusty despite many months out of the cockpit. He jumped to sixth at the start, passed Felix da Costa for fifth soon afterwards, then reached a stunning third place on lap eight. Oliver was soon reeling in second placed Simon Walker-Hansell, but the fuel shortage would strike before he had the chance to take the position.
"Oliver was certain that he could have passed Walker-Hansell," said Powell. "His pace was so much faster. In fact, Oliver was the only person who could do the same sort of times as (race winner) Matt Howson."
Harris and Rees were also heading for points finishes before the fuel issues hit them, although Matt at least made it across the line. As his car faltered, Harris fell from ninth to 12th, although he was moved back up to tenth when some of the drivers ahead received time penalties.
Points for Rees would have been a superb achievement for Paul and Team SWR, as his car had sustained substantial damage when he was taken out during a full course yellow in race one.JJ"It was a struggle to get Paul's car back out," said Powell.
"We were still finishing the repairs in the pit lane before the race. In the circumstances, he drove really, really well. Matt was also extremely competitive and made a lot of progress in the race. He was coming through the field very well, and got himself into a strong position."
The team now heads to Brands Hatch for rounds seven and eight a fortnight from now. Having shown no lack of speed at Rockingham, Team SWR will be looking for a more straightforward race and a chance to score some points in Kent.