Fiona Leggate - Latest News
4th June 2007
Fiona was hoping the 4th BTCC meeting of the year at Croft in North Yorkshire would finally signal a change in fortune for her BTCC season, especially after her success in her previous race meeting in the EERC PS1 Championship at Snetterton. The first session on Saturday got underway at just after 9:30am. Straight away things took a turn for the worst, when a hose blew off Fiona’s engine after just a few laps. The car had major mechanical work after the previous round and this appeared to be a side effect of this. The team refitted it and Fiona was on her way again. Sadly the car then struck problems again and stopped out on the circuit. This was not the start to the weekend that Fiona needed, she had only completed seven laps, robbing her of vital track time. The second session started just before 12, Fiona this time managing to do 15 laps, but part of the time was taken up bedding in some new brakes. With the loss of so much track time Fiona knew she would be up against it in Qualifying.
As soon as Fiona took to the track in Qualifying she found she had yet more problems with the brake pedal going almost to the floor every time she tried to brake. It wasn’t something the team could fix during the session so Fiona just had to try and make the best of what she had. This meant she could have no confidence in the car going into corners having to brake far earlier than usual, losing huge amounts of time in the process. By the end of the session, she ended up 21st on the grid of 23 with a time 1.29:639. She was very frustrated by this, as she knew with working brakes she could have set a much faster time and been far higher up the grid. It was clearly going to be a tough race on Sunday starting from near the back.
The first race on Sunday didn’t get underway until 12pm, so conditions were already extremely hot. Fiona got a good start, but the BMW’s of Martyn Bell and Jim Pocklington who were just behind her, got a far better one, Their superior rear wheel drive traction launching them off the line. Fiona was soon all over the back of Jim Pocklington as she was far faster round the circuit. He put up an extremely robust defence, closing the door violently on her several times nearly pushing her off the track. Eventually he had no more left to give and Fiona shot through. She had lost so much time behind him however that by now Martyn Bell was a long way up the road. Fiona decided that it wasn’t possible to catch him in the laps that were left and concentrated on getting the car home, saving the car for the next two races. With several incidents and retirements happening in that race, Fiona got a 15th place finish, giving her a much better grid position for race 2.
Fiona made an even better start this time and was right in the pack going into the first corner. Several of the front running cars were behind her after going out of race 1 and these were looking for a way past. This proved to be a disaster for Fiona as she was nudged from side to side, having to fight to keep the car on track. Matt Alison dived up the inside through the chicane, giving the rear of Fiona’s car a big whack. This pushed her sideways and she had to make one of her amazing saves, retrieving the car from an angle where it seemed it was about to leave the track! Then about halfway through the race John George hit the tyres going through the chicane knocking them into the centre of the track. Fiona, following in the wheel tracks of Matt Neal was unsighted and with the draft caused by Matt’s car the tyres rolled straight in front of her MG, racing at 110mph Fiona had no time to react and hit the tyres with a massive bang, which caused the crowd to gasp. The tyres are filled with concrete and the huge impact launched the front of her car about a metre into the air. Fiona regained control and tried to continue, but there was massive damage to the car. To continue would have meant certain engine failure so she brought the car into the pit garage. The Kartworld team would have a massive job to fix the car for race 3. The mechanics launched into the car with their usual enthusiasm, replacing the front bodywork and radiator, amongst other parts. It was a race against time, but with minutes to spare the car was fired up ready for race 3.
After the start Fiona yet again found herself stuck behind Jim Pocklingtons BMW. He defended his position extremely robustly once more, making contact with Fiona’s car several times. But he soon had to give in to the inevitable and Fiona was through. Frustratingly for Fiona though, Pocklington then pitted with problems and re-emerged from the pits right in front of Fiona once more, this time a lap down! As he was now a lapped car he should move out of the way to let Fiona pass, but as she drew alongside going into Hawthorn he amazingly shut the door on Fiona! They made contact, scraping into each other but Fiona kept her foot in and powered past regardless. The crowd letting out a massive cheer. Sadly this had lost her loads of time and she was by now far behind the rest of the pack. She continued driving as hard as she could, putting in her fastest race laps of the weekend and she finished in 13th, her best finish of the day. It had not been a good weekend though and Fiona had again been beset with problems through no fault of her own. Fiona was left wondering when her BTCC fortunes would change;
“One day my luck has to change, but it certainly wasn’t going to be this weekend.”
This weekend also saw the launch of her 2007 Merchandise, with T-shirts and hats available for fans to buy at Croft. These proved popular with green and black being worn all around the circuit. More items will join the range soon. Keep an eye on the website for the launch.
Fiona’s next race will be the EERC Ps1 night race at Spa. With having won her class in every round so far this season Fiona will be hoping for further success at the recently revamped Belgian circuit. Her next BTCC race is at Oulton park and as usual you can catch the action on Setanta Sports or as a combination of highlights with a live race 3 on ITV.
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