Frustrating Finale for Jo and the Eurotech team at Snetterton

Jo in the sun in qualifying (Photo by Marc Waller)

Jo in the sun in qualifying (Photo by Marc Waller)Last weekend saw Jo Polley, Jeff Smith, Brett Smith and the rest of the Eurotech team head to Norfolk for the finale of the 2016 Mini Challenge at Snetterton.

As usual they had testing on Friday but there was an early setback for Jo when her driveshaft failed. This also caused a gearbox issue so she missed the rest of the test day while the Eurotech team fixed the problem.

The race weekend itself would consist of a qualifying session and a race on Saturday and two further races on Sunday.

The three drivers took different strategies for qualifying. Jo opted to stay out and do as many laps as possible, partly to get more track time, making up for losing a lot of time on the test day. Jeff and Brett came in to switch the tyres, touring car style to try and get more heat in them.

It seemed like this was the best strategy as Jeff took pole by nearly a second with Brett in fourth. Jo took twenty fifth but felt she’d be much stronger in the races.
Unfortunately there was a blow for Jeff after qualifying. A protest was put in about Jeff’s non standard rear view mirror. Jeff has this for safety reasons as the standard mirror leaves a lot of blind spots. Unfortunately the rules don’t specify the use of extra mirrors and so Jeff was told his car didn’t comply and would be excluded from qualifying. Jeff would have to start from the back with the addition of a ten second penalty despite the mirror not giving any kind of performance advantage.

This put Brett up to third and Jo up to twenty fourth but both of them would have preferred Jeff to keep his pole.

As the lights went out for race one on Saturday afternoon, Jo made a great start and had a strong first lap despite having to avoid spinning cars. Behind Jeff got away after his ten second penalty and set about catching the back while Brett got into a huge battle with the front running pack.

Jo managed to fight her way up to twenty second by the end of the race, allowing Jeff to pass as he caught her. Jeff fought his way up to fourteenth by the end, a great result in the circumstances. Brett took fourth after his battle, narrowly missing out on the podium. With Jeff’s engine becoming down on power the team did an engine change overnight.

Sunday dawned very foggy and conditions initially were too bad to race in and the mornings races had to be entirely cancelled. It appeared that conditions were not going to improve all day but by early afternoon, the fog thinned enough to allow racing. There was not time to fit in the two JCW class races and so just one Sunday race would be held lasting just fifteen minutes. The race would start under the safety car.

With a safety car start no one could make a move and for the first two laps of the race the field ran in formation one behind the other. The safety car then came in and the race could get underway. Unfortunately one car span and was stranded in the middle of the track. Jo narrowly missed them and the safety car had to come back out. The field completed another lap behind the safety car before being released once more. Unfortunately there was only enough time for one single racing lap. Jo remained in twenty second, having had no chance to do any kind of racing. Brett too was still in fourth although he came close to taking a podium on the final racing lap. Jeff made up an impressive three places to take eleventh at the flag.

The team discuss their races (Photo by Marc Waller) Jeff catches Jo (Photo by Marc Waller) Jo pushed hard (Photo by Marc Waller) Jeff flying through the field exhaust flaming (Photo by Marc Waller) The fog was thick (Photo by Marc Waller) The sun sets on the season (Photo by Marc Waller)




It had been a difficult and frustrating weekend for Jo and the whole Eurotech team;

“So that’s the season over with. I finished up 22nd in the championship out of 32 cars. My best finish was 11th and I think I may have the accolade of being the only JCW driver not to have had a DNF, I have finished every race I started this season!” said Jo after the final race. “I need to say a massive thank you to the Eurotech boys for looking after me so well and all their hard work putting a mega car under me all year. Jeff, Brett, Adam and Tom for patiently trying to help me go faster and understand the car and of course our great sponsors Empire RV and Smartcom.”

The team now head into the winter break and a well-earned rest. It’s not yet certain what the 2017 plans are but we’re sure to see Eurotech back out on track again.By Marc Waller

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