Race day….. first morning warm-up. It was agreed to give Tim a little more seat time and a practice fuel stop (this would help reduce Tim’s nerves during his first race refuelling).
No dramas were reported and in preparation for the race, the car was given another mechanical check over. All that was left to do before the race was show various guests around the car and garage and for team pictures.
1pm and Richard sends Graham out of the pit and onto the track to form up on the grid. Ian had already headed out onto the grid to show Graham his grid spot, who arrived holding the seat adjuster bar in his hand. Ah, Richard…..
With that little issue fixed, the team could relax and soak in the atmosphere. There was a certain Black Falcons SLS GT3 car 2 rows behind Graham, so Ian had a chat with their driver (Adam Christodoulou) and said that our car would not change its lines so he could overtake on the outside if he wanted. Adam said thank you as he would be on a charge. These littles bits of communication are vital and save a very expensive crash.
13:48 The team left Graham to his own to gather his thoughts.
13:49 Graham starts the engine.
13:50 Warm-up lap 1 commences. Graham tries to warm his tyres and brakes the best he can.
13:55 Warm-up lap 2 with the cars lining up 2 by 2
14:00 Its green, green, green, the race is on.
14:15 Graham is hit by a Porsche. The car sustained no visible damage, however the 1st pit stop revealed that the Porsche had actually destroyed the wheel.
15:45 Graham is called into the pits for a change of driver, change of tyres and a refuel.
For the next 18 hours the team settled into a routine of each driver driving nearly 2 hour stints followed by a change of drivers, tyres and fuel. The team experienced a couple of minor issues such as a stuck throttle, a power steering hose blowing and a voltage spike causing the car to drop into limp mode. At each occasion, the team calmly identified the cause, fixed the problem and had the car back out on the track.
Of all of the drivers, Umair suffered the most bad luck as every one of his stints had periods of code 60 (60kph limit) running. So much so the team planned their drinks and eating breaks when Umair was in the car.
Day break saw the car starting to rise up the leader board as other cars started to hit serious issues and spend long periods in their respective garages. With 4½ hrs to go, Tim started his 3rd and final stint, when just after leaving the refuelling area when he reported that the car was spluttering. To be safe he pulled the car over and waited to be towed back to the garage.
The team quickly checked all of the leads and plugs and then started to check the spark plugs, to find one of the plugs was mostly missing. Richard then used his bore scope camera to confirm piston / valve interface and thus the engine was terminally damaged. With that, the race for ZRT MotorSport was over.
The team was naturally disappointed with the outcome but over the next few hours and especially at the end of the race, the team realised that the situation could have been much worse. There was only a couple of small bits bodywork damage, 1 destroyed wheel and another broken windscreen. This can be compared to the high number of cars that were written off during the race and an equally high number of cars that finished the race with substantial bodywork damage.
Despite this, the team has taken away a huge number of positives in that the car is very easy on its tyres, the breaks are powerful and consistent, the handling is well balanced and consistent, the car has good fuel consumption and the team gelled and worked very efficiently.
A sign of a good team is that it never lies down for long. In the case of ZRT MotorSport they have entered the 2hr mini endurance race that will be held at the Dubai Autodrome on April 1st 2016.
Pass by and say Hi. Motorsport fans are always welcome.