Fiona Leggate - Latest News
24th April 2005
Rockingham Race Report
Fiona was hoping for better luck at Rockingham for the second meeting of the BTCC last weekend. After Brands hatch the car was taken back to the workshop and put on a jig to straighten it up. It was found to be an amazing 1 inch out, making Fiona’s performance in race 3 all the more remarkable as this would have affected the cars handling.
Fiona has only raced at Rockingham once before, back in 2003 and on a slightly different layout. This coupled with her still getting used to her new car meant that she was uncertain what to expect from the weekend.
She took an approach of gradually building up through the first two sessions getting used to both the circuit and the car. She was also working on the set-up trying to get it handling in a way to suit her driving style. By qualifying she got her time down to a 1:27.917. This put her 21st on the grid, which then became 20th with the demotion down the grid of Colin Turkington. Fiona was not happy with this as a few more tenths would have moved her up a couple more places. She was having problems getting the right gear ratios which were limiting the acceleration and therefore straight-line speed out onto the fast oval section of the circuit. On top of this it was found after the session that some of the suspension components were badly worn, possibly as a result of the damage sustained at Brands Hatch. Fiona was however hopeful that she could have a good race the next day, having proved how good a racer she is during race 3 at Brands Hatch.
Sunday turned out dry and bright and the first race was away just after 11. The first start was aborted after problems for Darren Turner and so the grid reformed for a second attempt. The lights went on and they were held for what seemed like a huge amount of time. Obviously you can’t keep revving the engine while this is going on as the engine will get over stressed. Unfortunately Fiona lifted off just at the wrong moment as the lights finally changed and several cars passed her off the line. She was soon in the thick of the action though passing the tail-enders almost immediately. She was soon closing on Martyn Bell, a driver she had battled successfully against many times last season. But going into the final chicane something made Fiona run wide. Unknown to her at this stage, her engine was failing, leaking oil onto her tyres sending her across the grass. Then going onto the oval section the engine completely let go. The oil light came on letting Fiona know what had happened but by then she was already heading round the oval section where there are no safe places to stop. She drove round until the first safe opportunity she had to stop and pulled off.
Fortunately a second engine was available to her this weekend. (Unlike the situation at Techspeed last season where she only had access to a single engine.) The Kartworld team set to work removing the engine. Unfortunately there would not be time to fully complete the engine change before the second race, meaning for the second meeting running Fiona would not be racing in race 2. Her team mate Jason however kept up team morale with an excellent drive to 9th, meaning a second place start on the grid for him in race 3. Fiona however would have to start near the back.
By race 3 the car was finished and Fiona could take the start. This time Fiona timed everything perfectly and got an amazing start passing several cars off the line. Going into the infield section Fiona again found herself alongside the Techspeed/Arkas astra of Erkut Kizilirmak. They both joined the tangle between her team mate Jason Hughes, John George and David Pinkney. There was only a small gap and Erkut and Fiona again collided but Fiona managed to hold the car straight and continued. It looked like she could have another race like the one at Brands Hatch as she was soon passing cars everywhere! Then she came up to pass the BMW of Jim Pocklington and unfortunately he chose to close the door, the two cars collided and Fiona was off the circuit and out of the race. It had been an extremely hard weekend for Fiona and the team with little reward, Fiona was understandably very unhappy;
“I was having an excellent race but Jim Pocklington took me out, I’m gutted. Hopefully we can have a better time at Thruxton.”
Fiona’s next race will be the BTCC at Thruxton in two weeks time, shown live on Setanta Sports or as a combination of highlights with a live race 3 on ITV3.
Fiona and the team should have a new range of Merchandise out in time for Croft at the beginning of June, so keep an eye on the website for the launch!
By Marc Waller
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