Fiona Leggate - Latest News
Silverstone 24 hours race
The past weekend saw Fiona and the Janspeed Boston Bowl team entering the britcar Silverstone 24 hours. She was partnered in the event by team regular Rob Oldaker, Ben Jacques and Umberto Nacamuli. Umberto flew in especially from Italy to race with Fiona and Rob Oldaker for the second time. The event started on Thursday with testing. Things didn't go well with an engine failing during the day limiting the cars running. Friday was next with qualifying sessions being held both during the day and later on in the evening once darkness had fallen.
The Grid was determined by combining the two sessions times, leaving the team in 45h position on the grid, which was still a very good 8th in class.
Before the race on Saturday there was a warm up session the car again ran well and set the 28th fastest time overall and 4th in class out of a grid of 65 cars. The race got underway at 5pm on Saturday afternoon with Ben Jacques in the car.
Ben set a great for the team and moved the car well up the grid in the first 2 hours. Umberto and Rob were both second and third drivers in the car. Both had a sterling drives not dropping any positions. Fiona was to be the fourth driver to take over at around 12pm. Around this time the team were up to 24th position and 3rd in class.
Through the night problems struck and the car had to pit to have its clutch replaced, a feat which the teams mechanics managed in an amazing 22 minutes, possibly a new world record for an MG ZR Clutch change! Later on it also had to pit for some brake work and wheel bearing change.
As dawn started to break a thick blanket of fog descended on Silverstone. This led the organisers to scramble the safety car, which led the field for over 2 hours. During this time the car started suffering from electrical problems and soon the electrics completely failed. The car was towed into the pits. The Alternator was changed and a new battery fitted. This dropped the car down to 6th in class but due to cars in other classes having problems it was now actually up to 25th position overall. Once the sun had started to shine the fog quickly burnt off, allowing the cars to begin racing once more. The team were now more determined than ever to get the car to the end. The car continued to lap strongly but with all the drivers being careful not to over stress any of the components. The only worry now was the heat of the day causing temperatures in the car to rise to very high levels. If the car would hold together until the finish now it wasn't totally inconceivable that the car could even finish in a class podium position as many of the cars were encountering problems as well as several collisions.
The specially prepared Janspeed engine ran faultlessly and continued to work well all through the night and into Sunday morning, the team easily holding their 6th in class position and climbing up to 23rd place overall, which was well into the front half of the field, quite an achievement against the Various Porsches and BMW's.
Sadly more technical problems were to strike around 12pm with a front left hub failure. Fortunately this was relatively quick to fix and the car was soon on its way again. The team were now 6th in class and 24th overall. They were confident of at least holding this position as the car was lapping faster than several cars ahead of it. If anyone else struck problems they could move up the order. With the car and engine running so well and the finishing line getting ever closer with only 4hours to go, the Team TWC managers Chris Wright and Ian Tilsley planed to put in some quick laps to the flag using Rob Oldaker and Fiona. Everything was looking good for the car to make a last charge to the finish.
Suddenly at around 2:30pm as Rob was driving down the hanger straight there was a large bang from the engine coupled with a huge cloud of smoke. Rob quickly pulled the car over and jumped out in case there was a fire. This did not look good. The car was towed back to the pits, where the mechanics opened the bonnet to take a look. Sadly everyone’s worst fears were confirmed, the engine had suffered a catastrophic failure (Completely unrelated to the earlier failures) and the car was to go no further. Everyone was feeling hugely disappointed and deflated. Fiona came out of the pit garage where she had been waiting ready to take over for the final stint.
"I really thought we were going to get the car to the end. It might not have seemed so bad if it had been about 10 hours to go, but it is really gutting to go out so close to the finish. I feel disappointed for the Team, drivers and mechanics, we have all work so hard”. She said while looking at the remains of the engine with the rest of the team.
That was it, bad luck had struck once again and the car was out with only two and a half hours to go. After driving nearly 22 hours the Team used 34 tyres and 476 litres of fuel, 3 sets of brake shoes, 10 litres of oil and lots of coffee and tea. What made it even worse was that all the drivers had driven so well, that the car had absolutely no damage at all. They had avoided having a single collision, unlike most of the rest of the field! But all the team could do now was pack up and go home thinking about what might have been.
Boston Bowl Racing Ltd would like to thank Ben Jacques for a fine drive in what was his first 24 hours, Umberto Nacamuli a true professional who has completed many 24 hour races, Rob Oldaker for technical knowledge and smooth driving and Fiona Leggate for putting in the fastest lap. Not to be forgotten is Mrs Wright and Mrs Tilsley who supplied the continuous food and drink for 48 hours (essential to keeping the team happy), a big thank you to Mark Vaughn of Janspeed for the supply of the race engines and lastly The Target Newspapers for their support.
Fiona’s next race will be in Europe with more news to follow.
Race report and photos supplied by Mark Waller.
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