Much Improved Performance For Green Fuel Team Second qualifying - First session The Nasamax team had something to prove on Thursday, having had gear ratio problems and a misfire to find in the Wednesday sessions. Fears about heavy rainstorms...
Much Improved Performance For Green Fuel Team
Second qualifying - First session
The Nasamax team had something to prove on Thursday, having had gear ratio problems and a misfire to find in the Wednesday sessions. Fears about heavy rainstorms proved to be unfounded, as after a couple of showers in the afternoon, the evening stayed dry.
The team was not really looking for fast times, just to get into the field and work on the race set up as usual on the second evening.
Robbie Stirling was first out at the green flag, eager to qualify. His first full lap was a 3:52.049 followed by a 3:52.741 and he was qualified for the race. He handed over to Kevin McGarrity at 19.25 at a fuel and tyre stop which also allowed a pit stop rehearsal. 'We have as much power as the faster cars down the straights,' said Robbie, beaming.
Kevin reported gear selection problems as he brought the car back in onto the weighbridge, now becoming a favourite haunt of the car. Kevin sought John McNeil's advice on the radio about gear selection to get the car back to the pit at the far end of the pitlane. With the paddle shift system, the driver cannot select neutral manually and then a gear.
The team removed the gear shift solenoid which was leaking and causing the selection problems. This repair allowed time for discussion between John, chief engineer Brian Ireland and the drivers about the balance of the car and the choice and pressures of the Dunlop tyres. A new set up was generated with the addition of the gurney flap on the rear wing to give more downforce. 'It's fine on the straights, but we've got to be OK with the balance as well,' said Robbie later. In the meantime, the car had dropped to 17th place on the timesheets.
At 20.25, David Brabham set fastest time in the Zytek, with 3:33.932, another chassis by Nasamax chassis man Kieron Salter. At 20.45, Kevin rejoined the track for 2 flying laps in the Nasamax Judd, and set 3:44.379 on the 31st lap for the car in the session, taking the car back to 14th place again and the team finished the session somewhat happier.
'We are on old race tyres,' said John McNeil, 'if only we can run undisturbed we can find more. It's already 6 seconds quicker than we were at the test weekend, which has got to be good.'
Kevin was also happier. 'It's our first proper run, and it's now going well, in the right direction. That's an OK time on old race rubber. There was a lot of traffic, but then it is Le Mans...' The team plan was to run a full second session and see what could be done.
SECOND QUALIFYING - SECOND SESSION
19 minutes of this session were lost waiting for the gear shift box to be returned from its rebuild. The car left the pits at 22.19 with Werner Lupberger at the wheel, setting a time of 3.43.597 six minutes later. The car returned for new tyres and again a couple of laps later for more new tyres and fuel, as the team worked on the balance for the car. A new fastest time of 3.42.429 was set at 22.57 by Werner as the team improved the setup, placing the car 14th. Werner: 'It's very dirty out there, lots of gravel where people have gone off. It's now getting cleaner. We knew we have more potential and so has the car, and I think we can do a 3 min 40. Kevin's been great, consistent and good with the set up, he's brought a lot to the team and we're all pushing each other which is good.'
At 23.00 Kevin took the wheel from Werner, the car was refuelled and left on a new set of tyres. At 23.16 a top speed of 308.50 was recorded past the pits.
Robbie Stirling was back in the car for the final stint at 23.38 with more fuel and new rubber, and reported on his return at the chequered flag that the car was much better balanced.
All in all, an evening of steady progress once the gremlins had gone. John McNeil's final remarks: 'We all agree there should be a 3.39 in the car, but it's not possible to do that in the dark. We're happy enough with the way it turned out and the car appears to be nicely set for the race.'