Fiona Leggate - Latest News
15th October 2007
Thruxton BTCC 2007
Fiona went to the BTCC finale at Thruxton weekend hoping that she could finally have a good weekend to lay all the bad luck from the rest of the season to rest. Thruxton has produced some good results for Fiona in the past so she had good reason to be hopeful for the weekend.
The weather was very overcast and dull as first practice got underway at 9:30am. Both Kartworld cars were out quite early, but Fiona soon found her car wasn’t quite right.
“The car feels really sluggish and down on power.” She reported over the radio. “It really lags when I try to accelerate out of the corners.”
Fiona persevered to see if the problem would go as the car warmed up but if anything it just got worse. She came in the pits and the team diagnosed that the engine mapping was wrong. This was not letting the engine produce its full power especially on acceleration out of the corners, the last thing you want around Thruxton which is a power circuit.
The team worked on the car and adjusted the engine mapping between sessions and Fiona again took to the track.
“The power feels much better now; it’s much quicker out of the corners.” She reported over the radio.
Unfortunately she soon found another problem;
“The car is hitting the rev limiter on the fast section; I think top gear is too short.” She radioed in.
The team changed the ratios at the end of the session to the same as Jason’s car which had been performing well and the car was all set for qualifying.
Qualifying began just after 3pm. Fiona did an initial two laps, an out and an in lap to make sure all was okay and then came in for a change of tyres. The car was feeling much better and she was feeling confident of having her best qualifying of the year.
She left the pits to start her first qualifying run, warming her tyres as she went. But as she reached the extremely fast Church corner something had gone very wrong. The car slid all over the road and going at such high speed Fiona did an amazing job to keep it under control and on the circuit.
“Something’s gone wrong with the car coming through Church. It feels although one of my rear wheels is loose. I’m coming slowly back to the pits.”
As Fiona reached the Club chicane she was proved to be correct as her right rear wheel parted company with the car and bounced into the tyre wall.
“The wheels come off now; I’ll have to park it. I’m out of qualifying.” Said an obviously fed up and angry Fiona.
The team examined the car after the session and said that a stray piece of rubber had prevented the wheel nut from securing properly. Almost unbelievably Fiona’s bad luck had struck again putting her out of what promised to be one of her best qualifying sessions of the year before she could even set a time.
She would have to start race 1 from the back, it would be an uphill struggle to get a good result from there.
With Thruxton not able to start racing activities until 11am the pit walk was the first activity of the day. Fiona had a huge amount of autographs, with many fans commiserating her on her poor luck on Saturday and wishing her well for the day.
Then it was time for race 1. Fiona got an excellent start powering away from the line and was straight past both Rick Kerry and Alan Taylor and she set off after Martyn Bell’s BMW. She gained on him quickly and was soon swarming all over the back of him. Within another lap she was through and set off after the rest of the pack. Alan Taylor’s Honda Integra had followed her past Martyn Bell and was hanging on to the back of her car. As she braked and changed down for the complex on the next lap, Taylor misjudged his braking and hit the back of Fiona’s car punting her off the circuit. She soon recovered and was back in the race. The car however had not escaped damage and there was a vibration at the back. Worse than that the gearbox appeared to have been damaged as Fiona had been hit on a down change, she was struggling to get the car to go up and down the gears. It was worth carrying on though as there had been several retirements. Fiona crossed the line in 19th position; this would give her a slightly better starting position for race 2 and a greater chance of a good result.
The Kartworld team set about changing the gearbox as soon as the race was over. It usually takes about 20 minutes to change and with an hour and a half until race two there was plenty of time.
It soon became apparent there was a problem however; one of the parts they were removing had become jammed in the car, proving extremely difficult to free. They struggled on but time was fast running out. Eventually it was released but now they had almost no time left to rebuild the car. The time came for the cars to go out onto the grid and Fiona’s car was far from ready. She would have to miss race 2. This was a big blow for Fiona as on top of losing a race it would mean she would again have to start from the back for the final race of the day.
Race three got underway just before 4:30pm. Fiona again made a brilliant start and soon despatched Rick Kerry. She then set off in pursuit of Martyn Bell who was a much tougher opponent. It took her a few laps but eventually she found a way past and then set off after Alan Taylor. Mike Jordan had problems during this and had come into the pits for repairs. He emerged back on track not far behind Fiona and she was informed of this over the radio.
“Mike Jordan is behind you on the track and he’s going very quickly.” Her engineer told her.
With a much faster car Mike was able to slice past Fiona but she slotted in behind hoping to use the slipstream to gain more time on Alan Taylor. Then as they came through the Club chicane something appeared to fail on Jordan’s car and he went straight on into the tyre wall right in front of Fiona.
“Mike Jordan has just had a big off right in front of me” She told the team over the radio. The race continued with yellow flags being waved at the chicane, but it soon became clear that Mike would require further assistance and with it being such a dangerous position the race was stopped. Fortunately Mike sustained no serious injuries. As the race was only two laps from the end a result was declared leaving Fiona 18th position.
As she drove round to return to the pits she spoke to her team;
“Thanks for everything this year guys. It’s been fun.”
As has been the case the whole season the weekend had not gone how Fiona had hoped with her car again beset by problems all weekend. On the positive side Fiona had driven really well, not making any mistakes and bringing the car home to two finishes in both races she started. With the BTCC now finished for the season Fiona will now be looking to find the funding to compete again next season. She will be hoping to get a deal done early enabling her to do lots of winter testing. This should ensure she will be right on the pace at the beginning of the 2008 season. She will be hoping to leave all her bad luck of 2007 behind and have her best season of her career so far.
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