Fiona Leggate - Latest News
17th September 2007
EERC 24 Hours Race Report
The third Britcar Silverstone 24 hour race was held over the past weekend. Fiona had originally planned to enter in her regular MG ZR which she had already won the 2007 EERC Class 3 PS1 Championship in. Unfortunately some last minute setbacks meant that this couldn’t happen. An alternative drive was sought and Fiona agreed a deal with Daniels Motorsport to drive one of their bright green Class 3 Honda Civic Type-Rs. Daniels had finished both previous Silverstone 24 hours and had won their class last year so they were an excellent choice for the race. Her Co drivers in the number 68 would be Malcolm Edeson, Michael Hartley and Dave Abbott. One of Fiona’s regular co drivers, Ben Jacques would drive in the number 67 Daniels Civic. 54 cars filled the large and diverse field with everything from Moslers to a Morgan Roadster entering. There was also a lot of interest in the team entered from the Top gear Television show with all the presenters as well as the mysterious Stig on the driving squad!
The first chance Fiona had to test the car was in Qualifying on Friday morning. She felt immediately at home in the car and set some good times in her stint in the session. The team finished up 4th in class and 38th overall. Night Qualifying took place that evening at 8pm and the team took 3rd in class during this session ahead of the sister car. The day qualifying times were the faster during the day session and so the team would start from 38th. Grid times are of little importance for a 24 hour race especially on a track like Silverstone and with Fiona getting faster all the time the team were feeling confident.
Saturday morning saw a warm up session take place and the team decided just to take the car out briefly with one driver to try and limit wear on the car, just checking that everything was okay. Fiona felt confident in her speed in the car so one of the other drivers did the warm up.
The race started at 4:30pm with Michael Hartley taking the first stint in the car. Fiona would take over at 6pm and she would also have stints at 1:30am and 6am.
“I’m not going to get much sleep tonight!” she joked while looking at the Schedule.
During the first hour the car struck trouble with the Alternator. This required a lengthy stop in the pits and by the time Fiona took over the car was a long way behind, being 5 laps behind the sister car. Fiona drove as fast as she could setting the fastest laps set so far during the race in the car and she managed to get an entire lap back on the 67 car. She then handed the car over to Dave Abbott. As the evening progressed the car continued to move up the order and was soon only couple of laps down on the class leaders. Malcolm Edeson took over at 10:30pm for a double stint. (This was due to him amazingly driving both Daniels cars during the race!)
At around 11:30pm the Duke video car driven by Peter Duke, (Whose team also included BTCC Supremo Alan Gow.) was coming up behind Malcolm in the Daniels car. The Duke video car had problems with it’s brakes and as it loomed up behind the Civic, Peter Duke found he was unable to slow down enough. He slammed into the rear of the Civic at over 100mph firing both cars off the circuit. The Duke car was out on the spot and things didn’t look good for the Daniels car.
It was recovered to the pit garage where the massive damage was revealed. The entire back of the car was caved in with the rear suspension and fuel tank also completely wrecked. Many teams at this point would give up and retire from the race but not Daniels Motorsport! The team set to work on the car replacing what they could and repairing things they couldn’t. 2 and a half hours later and after some amazing work by the team the car emerged from the garage, still looking a little worse for wear but ready to race once more.
After such a long stop the car was a huge distance behind but it was worth keeping going for a finish which is an excellent achievement in itself. The car raced through the rest of the night gradually reducing the huge distance to the rest of the class 3 cars. At around 5am the Fog descended as it had the previous year bringing out the safety car as with almost zero visibility it was impossible to race. Soon it was decided to suspend the race until the fog cleared. This meant all the cars would line up in race order in front of the pits in race order. The drivers had to remain in the cars and the teams couldn’t touch them. At around 7:30am the race was restarted and the number 68 Civic continued trying to close the gap.
Fiona took over the car again at 9:30am and again drove as fast as she could trying to close as much of the huge gap as possible. During her stint she flew past the Stig in the Top gear car which had also had a huge accident during the night while Richard Hammond was driving.
There were a couple of minor collisions between the Daniels Civic and some of the other cars during the morning as inexperienced drivers in faster cars made a mess of passing the civic. Fortunately only minor cosmetic damage was caused with very little time lost but it was something the team could do without.
Fiona’s final stint was at 2:30pm the team having fought their way up to fourth in class. Fiona drove the fastest she had all weekend passing cars in some of the faster classes above. She set the cars and the teams fastest lap of the race, a 2:13.869. This was also the fastest that any driver had ever driven a Daniels Honda Civic round the Silverstone GP circuit!
The sister Daniels car was by now in second place in class showing that without the shunt Fiona’s car would have had an excellent chance of winning class 3. During the final hour the Honda Integra of Team Thrush struck trouble, it’s retirement would have meant a class win for the 67 car with Fiona’s car finishing on the class podium. But with a few minutes left Team Thrush managed to get the car back out on track in time to finish the race but they had not been quite quick enough and the number 67 daniels car would win the class.
As the clock reached 4:30, Fiona and the rest of the team climbed onto the pit wall to welcome the Daniels cars home. They had managed to move into team formation during the last couple of laps and all the team cheered as both cars crossed the line together, 2nd and 4th in class.
On her third attempt Fiona had finally managed to finish the Silverstone 24 hours. Not only that, despite losing 2 and a half hours during the night fixing the accident damage they had only narrowly missed out on finishing on the class podium an excellent achievement by Fiona and the whole team.
Fiona’s next race will be the BTCC finale at Thruxton in Hampshire on 14th October, where she will be hoping for further good fortune to finish the BTCC season with some good results.
Report by Marc Waller
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