The final round has been and gone and it’s now time to start preparation on both cars for the 2017 race season. Croft showed us that the Golf’s reliability, or lack of, played a major role in losing championship points. Since the car has such a bespoke engine set-up it is very difficult to source spare parts for the engine and we often have to make another part at Labman. The main problem is that we are simply unable to predict what will go wrong with the car next and because of this we struggle to carry enough spares with us to the races.
Croft started with high hopes – both cars in the pit lane the day before and an early night for the whole team – sounds too good to be true! The morning went smoothly. With the extra hands from Labman present we were able to get the cars ready in plenty of time for practice. Although we didn’t get the chance to walk the track due to practise starting early, we knew the loose sections were wet – very wet! These wet conditions usually work well with the front wheel drive cars when racing as they have less difficulty keeping straight lines in the wet conditions. Practice proved this theory – going out on track behind Stewart, I was able to keep up with the light Mini on the loose and I would still have the power to overtake on the tar-mac.
After practise we inspected both cars, double checking everything was safe for the first race. Sadly this is where the Golf took a turn for the worse. Upon inspecting the turbo’s oil feed, the very brittle aluminium fitting sheared off when we tried to tighten it up. We worked tirelessly to try and get the Golf out for the first race. Although we thought we had done enough, our fix came apart on the start line, when the oil got up to temperature and was thin enough to leak out of the new fitting and onto the hot turbo. This produced a lot of smoke which filled the cockpit of the car with me still inside. After pulling out of the first race we tried to fix the leak countless times but were unable to succeed in fixing the car to a suitable standard, so we had to call it a day for the Golf. This was a hard decision to make, after all of the Labman staff that were there helping to try and get the car out but we didn’t feel comfortable with the risk, knowing what the consequences could be.
Stewart went on in the Mini to have an excellent days racing, from very impressive overtakes where needed to conservative driving to keep the tyres prime for the final, it all worked out in the end for him. After a small collision in the first corner of the final put him in last place, Stewart went on to claim 2nd position in the final, hunting down the 4-wheel drive 6R4 of Mark Flaherty. All of Labman were cheering Stewart on all the way to the finish line during one of the most eventful races of the season.
Overall Stewart ended up 2nd in the final and winning his under 1600cc championship, a well-deserved trophy after the racing displayed that day. The Golf, although having such a disastrous day, was still able to secure 3rd place in the over 1600cc championship. This result is very impressive and we are very happy with the overall results. With this being the Golf’s first season, we knew that we were going to have issues and had to develop the car a lot over the year. We did not plan on the season being this eventful however.
Moving into next year we have a lot to work on to make sure the Golf is not only competitive, but also reliable. The increase in pace shown over the season is a sign of things to come, and next year we are determined to bring home more trophies and better results.
I’m looking forward to competing in another full championship and fighting for the top spot throughout next year. I hope that you have enjoyed reading these blogs and we are confident that next year will bring even more eventful and successful weekends.