Snetterton often has very variable weather and this year was no exception as practice one got underway in dry sunny weather but changed to wet weather by the end. The second session was back to dry running throughout. With both drivers getting time in the car they looked forward to qualifying and getting as far up the grid as possible.
On double race weekends such as this one, Qualifying is split into two 15 minute sessions. The first is driven by the driver starting the first race and the second 15 minutes is for the driver starting the second race. Zoe took over the car for session one as she would be starting race one. By now conditions were back to wet and with Zoe not having driven the car in the wet for many months she found the session a little daunting. Zoe took fourth in class in the end with Declan taking second in class on the grid for race two.
As race one got underway, Zoe made an excellent start and was soon challenging the Complete Racing Aston Martin of Steve Chaplin for third in class. As the cars entered Williams, Zoe made a move up the inside. With her car already fully alongside, the Aston Martin driver chose to pull over on her. It was a bit impact and as well as slowing Zoe, the crash did damage to her car’s suspension.
The car was now very tough to drive and Zoe had to fight the car to keep it on track. Despite the damage she managed to hold on to fourth and was still in this position when she came in to hand over to Declan. Sadly they were 0.25 seconds too quick out of the pitsmeaning they received a drive through penalty. It was a tough decision but the rules are the same for everyone. Declan did an excellent job for the remainder of the race and as the chequered flag fell at the end of the race, they were in third place. It was an excellent result in the circumstances. With their nearest rivals for the championship taking their first win of the year, it was important to get as many points as they could.
After the race, the car was found to be so damaged that the steering arm and other suspension parts were bent, almost time too tired with the suspension arms being very close to breakage.
Race two got underway just after 3pm and Declan stormed into an early class lead. Things were looking good until just before the first pitstop when a passing Ferrari 458 GT3 driven Rob Barff, hit the Ginetta. The incident damaged the front of the car and put the tracking seriously out. Declan returned to the pits as quickly as he could and the team set about the driver change while at the same time patching up the car as best they could.
Zoe was in the car and out of the pits surprisingly quickly as the team tried to salvage a result. Sadly within a lap or so it became clear that the bonnet was far more damaged then it initially appeared and it started to lift off the car blocking Zoe’s view. Zoe came staright back in the pits, doing well to keep it on the track given the lack of visibility. The team taped the bonnet down again as quickly as possible and the whole team, including Declan pushed the car out and Zoe sped off back into the race. She was determined to try and catch her rivals to try and salvage some more points. She lapped some two seconds quicker than her nearest rivals ahead of her despite the car’s damaged state but the gap was huge. The team realised it was impossible to move up any further in the time available and told Zoe just to make sure she got the car home. She did this and they took fifth in class for the second race. Unfortuntely their nearest rivals, Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jr won again and took the GT4 championship lead.
It was a disappointing weekend for the entire team, particularly as the problems were through no fault of either driver. Zoe tried to be as positive as possible;
“It was a disappointing weekend all round but I’d like to thank Declan and Century Motorsport for working hard despite it being our toughest weekend so far. A huge thanks to my sponsors Supagard Fadal CNC and Geometric Manufacturing for making the weekend possible and we will be back on the title hunt at Brands”
The next round at Brands Hatch is on the 10th of August giving the team plenty of time to regroup and get the car back into perfect condition to start the fight to regain their championship lead. By Marc Waller