GT

BGTC: Ryan Hooker Donington summary

Hooker's Dramatic British GT Debut Ryan Hooker (Upminster, Essex) had a dramatic debut in the British GT series which saw him overtaken...by his own wheel! Driving for the newly formed Jensen Motorsport GT Team at the season's opening round at...

Hooker's Dramatic British GT Debut

Ryan Hooker (Upminster, Essex) had a dramatic debut in the British GT series which saw him overtaken...by his own wheel!

Driving for the newly formed Jensen Motorsport GT Team at the season's opening round at Donington Park, this was Ryan's first chance to turn the wheel of the Corvette C5 powered by an impressive 5.8l V8 engine. Initial impressions were encouraging.

"Despite the team having only had the car for six weeks, the work they have put in on such a tight schedule has been tremendous" says Ryan. "As a benchmark the car handles very well, with very good corner speed and has a good amount of power."

As expected of this first meeting, practice was a time of discovery and finding minor problems that needed to be ironed out. In a qualifying session that saw changeable weather and red flags, Ryan and team-mate Dominic Lesniewski, found their runs severely hampered leaving them straggling the back of the back of the grid but given the steep learning curve they knew this weekend would be both were optimistic and determined.

Ryan was set to start the hour long Race One on Saturday evening and saw three tyre changes before leaving the pit for the grid in ever changing conditions. Eventually the decision was taken, along with around three quarters of the grid, to set out on slicks. "I made a reasonable start" says Ryan, "trying to stay out of trouble. The wind was helping the track to dry quickly and I soon settled into a nice rhythm. Towards the end of my stint I was the second quickest in our class which was encouraging. Then just before coming in to change driver, I went into Goddards, under braking as normal the rear left wheel at that point just felt as if all the studs had sheered and it sent me into a spin across the chicane and the rear left wheel overtook me!"

The disintegrating wheel left the team on their backfoot for Race Two on Sunday afternoon. The team, thanks to the co-operation of other teams, were able to borrow a new set of wheels, though an inch smaller than the original 17" rims, so new tyres were also borrowed, two new and two 20 laps old.

As Ryan explains "once the new wheels were bolted on and the car lowered the team realised they couldn't push the car, basically they were binding so they had to offset the wheels with spacers. There was one which was giving trouble as the brake calliper was offset differently to the other side so they adjusted that one spacer and the problem was solved but we had lost the first five laps of the race. Dominic went out and did a good 20 minute stint in dry conditions before coming in for the driver change which went reasonably when. As I went out I was radioed by Jensen (Lunn) who asked me to confirm Dominic's report that the car was suffering with bad vibrations. I was able to confirm this, the vibrations went through the whole car so I was called in after just one lap. The Dunlop guys found the rear left tyre had collapsed in the centre so unfortunately we had to retire as being on borrowed boots we had no fifth wheel."

Despite the trials and tribulations of their debut, Ryan remains philosophical and excited about the season ahead. "We knew we came to Donington blind and would have to work hard on the car but what it has shown us is given further testing we will have a car to contend with that will be able to mix it with the top of our class."

The next race is at Mondello Park, Ireland on 8th May and highlights of the first round will be aired on Channel 4 at 7.30am on April 17th.

-rh-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series GT
Drivers Ryan Hooker , Dominic Lesniewski