After a little break through July, the car was back on track at Thruxton and this time it would be just Ryan behind the wheel, as Dave was up in Scotland doing the North Coast 500 in a motorhome! Competition for this race would be close, a number of cars have been getting increasingly close at the pointy end of the grid, so it was anyone’s guess who would be quickest.
Heading out in to qualifying and Ryan soon got up to speed at what he says is his favourite circuit. Previously, he had managed a 1:31 and so was chasing down a sub 1:30 in qualifying. He managed to pull it off, posting a cracking time of 1:29.3, to put himself 5th overall and significantly, ahead of that arch rival of ours, Tom Mensley in the other Class B Clio.
Of the 4 cars ahead on the grid, only the 206 of the Simpsons had already won a race, so it would be tough competing for the overall win this time. This was made a little easier when pole sitter Danny Cassar in his lightning fast Integra had to pull out before the start of the race. This meant that because we use a staggered 2×2 grid, the space in front of Ryan was clear. It was also a standing start, our favourite.
At the start of the race, Ryan really took advantage of the car’s ability to launch and rocketed in to 2nd place before the complex. He quickly went after the Simpson’s 206, following closely behind all the way through Church and to the final chicane. Then, at the end of the first lap, he dived up the inside on the brakes to take the lead of the race!
The following lap, the safety car came out and bunched the pack right up again, only to release the cars 3 laps later. It was Ryan’s duty to dictate the restart and he patiently waited until he was on the start finish straight before launching away. This had caught some drivers out, most notably Tom Mensley, who had overtaken a few cars before the start finish line and would later be disqualified from the race result because of it.
After the restart, Ryan lead the pack away, with the #6 Integra of Russ Hird following closely behind. He put in a handful of laps all within tenths of each other and was able to pull a small gap from the cars behind. Heading in to the pits, he had a small lead and if all went well, he would come back out in the lead.
Unfortunately, this is where it all unravelled…. He entered the pits, came to a stop, turned the engine off but as he got back in the car to restart, it was struggling to fire. Ten seconds passed and then it burst in to life, but not all was right. He exited the pits, only seconds behind Russ Hird who had now inherited the lead. As he made his way to the complex, he noticed temperatures had risen and it would not make it around a lap, he pulled the car neatly to the side of the track and to the nearest marshalls post at the exit, game over.
Steam poured from the bonnet, the car was no longer turning the water pump, as the belt had come off. A post mortem of the video and data revealed that the belt had come off as he shifted in to 2nd gear entering the pits. This was pretty devastating for the team, on track for what could’ve been a long-awaited hard-earned UK win, but it was simply not to be this year. The great run of form and reliability we had gone through was over. Our results for 2018 now read: 3rd, 4th, 2nd, 1st, DNF.
This isn’t the first time that belt has come off and we thought we had fixed it, but we will re-group, get the issue fixed properly and probably get the gearbox rebuilt whilst we’re at it. We’re not sure when we’ll be back on track, hopefully before the end of this year to end the season in some kind of style, but watch this space, we always come back and we will come back even stronger.