Oliver Bryant Racing

07946 524 941 info@oliverbryant.com
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8th July 2012

Impressive Double Stints by Olly Bryant Help Team Tiger to Win Spa 24 Hours

Report by Ben Beighton, Team Tiger driver.

We arrived at Spa on Wednesday giving ourselves plenty of time for preparation in order for Fridays 3 hour qualifying session. The whole team performed exceptionally with Chloe clocking a 3:08:8, Ben a 3:06:7 and Oliver Bryant a 3:06:4. This placed us at the head of the petrol class just ahead of Racelogics 3:06:8 and 27th overall on the 80 car grid.

Saturday came and after waiting what seemed like an eternity race time finally rolled around. Cars, drivers and spectators filled the grid and at 5:30pm the lights went out for the start of the 24 hour race.
Ben started the race on ‘new’ tyres and immediately ran into problems. The grip from the tyres just wasn’t there, as it had been in qualifying, and lap times were down around 5 seconds. Furthermore the car was getting pad knock off and the clutch pedal was sticking to the floor which meant brake pumping and only one down-shift worth of engine braking for each corner. After an exhausting initial hour, the first Code 60 (mandatory 60kph speed limit) reared its head, giving the car a chance to cool down which alleviated the brake and clutch problems. Many teams used this opportunity to dive into the pits for fuel and a driver change, although we stayed on track, looking to run less pit stops over the duration of the race.

Chloe was out next and struggled equally with the tyres, lapping around 5 seconds off her qualifying pace, but held station. Nearing the very end of her session another Code 60 was called and Chloe made the great decision to quickly pit without being called. The car was wheeled into the garage for four genuinely new tyres and light pod fitting in order for the night stints, with the team completing all the work under the non racing conditions. This gained back any advantage we had lost on the first round of stops and back at the sharp end of the petrol class.

Olly set about his first stint and put the new rubber to work battling back up the order, although 80 minutes later was forced to pit with possible engine cutting. We decided to fuel in case that was the problem and kept Olly in the car with instruction to pit again if anything was still awry. Fortunately the problem cleared and Olly got his head down for another 90 minutes as the night began to fall. His double stint ended shortly after the heavens suddenly opened, mixing with oil at that had been spilled at Pouhon corner, sending a multitude of cars spinning off track (makes for some entertaining VBox footage!). Olly pitted as Petrol P1 for a much needed screen clean and driver change.

Chris began his midnight stint in the pouring rain. In the tricky conditions lap times were down to around 3:40 but he put his experience to good use and made some key passes. Around 30 minutes into the stint the right hand screen wiper decided it had had enough and gave up! the rain began to slow at this point, although the track stayed slippery and the spray from cars in front continued to be an issue. An hour later Chris entered the pits and after a driver change and a quick spanner on the misbehaving wiper, Ben began his second stint.

After a brief Code 60 the track began to dry at a rate of 2 seconds a lap and Ben began scything through the field, gaining a lap on petrol P2 Racelogic. By the end of the stint we were 12th overall and P1 petrol, with times back down to around 3:10 although many cars were still laping a deal slower in the changeable conditions. Another Code 60 popped up and Ben dove into the pits to hand over to Olly.

Olly enjoyed similar success and as the track dried further he threw in a couple of 3:08s, further building the gap to our rivals.

As the sun rose he handed over to Chloe who fueled up and completed her early morning stint without incident, lapping well in the dry conditions.
She handed over to Chris who got one dry lap before the rain greeted him once again and stayed with him for the duration. At some point the right hand wiper failed again and later the right hander, forcing Chris to finish his wet session with very low visibility.

Chris pulled into the pits for a driver change, and with the wipers unfixable, Ben headed back into the rain for another stint. Although the limited vision proved difficult things went well until an hour in when disaster struck. The alternator had died and the battery was losing charge, just as Ben passed the pit entrance. He killed all the extraneous electrical devices but it wasn’t quite enough to bring the car 7km back home. Power drained rapidly and the car rolled to a halt just outside Stavelot. The marshals did an excellent job in speedily recovering the car from a dangerous position and the team quickly set about repairs and replacements once back in the pits, whilst changing out the brakes and tyres (Big thanks to the help from everyone in garage 10). Soon enough Ben was back out for another stint with Racelogic and CCS Media now snapping at our heels. By this time the rain had stopped, although spray was still an issue without wipers, so drafting other cars was quite risky.

Ben finished his double stint, handing over to Olly who raced through his session on the dry circuit, pitting briefly to fix an wing mirror that had come loose and was hanging by a thread. Soon enough Ben was out again for a trouble free dry hour and a half before handing back to Olly for the finale.

Completing the final driver change, Olly headed out of the pits into the afternoon sun. Tracking the progress of our rivals, we knew that both ourselves and Racelogic wouldn’t quite make it on fuel and would have to ‘splash and dash’. Both teams left it as late as possible in case of a Code 60 that never came. Olly gave us the thumbs up as we waved him through the pitlane towards the fuel bay and an agonising final 30 minutes began.

As each lap fell away and the clock edged closer to zero, more and more people lined the pitwall. Mechanics, drivers and team personnel clung to the fences and spilled from the board slots.

The chequered flag fell and the race winners crossed the line, celebrating, almost causing a huge accident in the process! Then began the two minute wait until our car emerged from the Bus Stop. The whole team roared from the pit wall as Olly crossed the line, we had done it! 10th overall, 3rd British team and 1st Petrol Class!