TLM glory at last race of the season
Team Lizard Motorsport (TLM) made a comeback at the last race of the Team Trophy championship at Brands Hatch.
Testing…testing…don’t blow the diff!
As the car…or drivers…hadn’t been out in over a year, the crusade started with two test sessions. Since its last outing, the car had a few shiny additions, such as a new diff and suspension that needed putting to the test. Lap times were progressively getting better and all seemed to be going well… until… when pushing hard Mark Gillam darted back into the pits with a cooked diff and an oil slick! A quick temperature check reveals it had reached a burning 180 degrees!
Fortunately, our sponsor and co-driver Abbey Motorsport is conveniently located up the road from Brands Hatch. So, after cooling the diff with a giant fan and cleaning up the mess, the car was quickly transported back to HQ.
The team were fantastic – they rebuilt the diff, designed and mounted a custom oil cooler in no time. It turned out the quality Motul oil the car was running had essentially saved the device. For a while there had been concern a new diff would be required.
Race day – the excitement begins!
So race day arrived and some of the team trekked an impressive 70 miles to be at the track for 7am. The car was unloaded and preparations were underway as friends, family and spectators began to flock around the team.
Carving the path to success
Excitement rose as qualifying began, although the track was damp and it seemed to catch a few people out. Between the sheer number, 32, of cars on the track, a few incidents and a safety car, it was hard to find clean air and put in a decent lap.
The team posted a 55.5 – good enough for 5th on the grid but surrounded by BMW M3s! As luck (for TLM) would have it, two cars retired before the start of the race, promoting the team to 3rd!
Spins, smashes and safety cars
Steve is first up to drive, he makes a steady start but the CS Porsche 968 launches like a complete beast from 4th and almost takes 1st before Paddock Hill. He spots where the Porsche is running wide and after a couple of laps rushes past him – now on to the next… a yellow BMW M3. Just on the corner where Steve can see a path by the M3, a Clio spins out resulting in yellow flags… no overtaking. As soon as the flags are in, Steve is past the M3 and running in 2nd place. The M3 isn’t happy and is all over the rear end of the TLM 350z – one mistake and he’ll be through!
The track is packed with various fights throughout the classes and then TLM get unwittingly caught up in one between a lower class M3 and a Porsche 944. Seemingly too busy with their own fight, a series of blue flags are ignored and the M3 is weaving about in front of Steve. Choices…hit him hard or go off on the grass? Steve wisely opted for the grass putting the team back to 5th place.The same M3 then loses control and finds himself in the barrier.
Safety car and a good time to swap drivers – the race is almost half way through now. Having only practiced the driver change once before, this looked like it could be interesting. However, the team worked together like clockwork – John dragged Steve from the car, Mark jumped in and the pit crew noted some stats and checked for damage from Steve’s excursion. Everything was good to go and on time!
On the home straight
Mark’s stint in the car gets off to a good start with him clinching 1st place briefly. A nippy Seat manages to push past him but he’s putting in consistently quick lap times. Another safety car comes out and there is hope of regaining 1st place but there just isn’t quite enough laps left.
The chequered flag comes out and the team are astonished – with dreams of a top ten finish, they land it on the podium on their first outing.
The team are now concentrating on preparations for the 2013 race season. They intend to run in the Team Trophy championship, which races across the UK. There is talk of potentially taking the car to Circuit Spa-Francorchamps too…but at this stage it may just be a pipe dream…although finishing their first endurance race on the podium was a pipe dream too before it came true!
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