Fiona Leggate - Latest News
8th May 2007
Fiona was hoping to move further up the grid last weekend when she contested the third meeting of the 2007 BTCC at Thruxton. It had yielded her best results of the year in the BTCC last season and she had also gone well at the Hampshire circuit when she raced in the Mini Challenge last August. This included setting fastest lap, which was at the time a lap record for the Championship.
Her car had been fixed in the weeks that had passed since Rockingham and Fiona couldn’t wait to get started;
“I really want to do well this weekend after the bad start to the year I’ve had.” She said before first practice got underway.
She posted a best lap of 1:21.923, which put her in 16th place, just behind her team mate Jason Hughes. The car still wasn’t perfect so she discussed with the team what changes to make to improve the performance. The next session yielded an Improvement in lap time to a 1.21.394, although this still left her in 16th position.
Qualifying was the last BTCC session of the day and Fiona put in as many laps as she could, pushing the car as hard as possible. She set a best lap time of 1:21.091, this again putting her in 16th position. Fiona had felt she could go faster but later in the session her brakes overheated and threw her off the road going into Church, the fastest corner on the circuit at about 136mph. Fortunately Fiona managed to keep control of the car and avoid contact with the barriers, but she admitted it had been quite a scary moment!
The team made some modifications to the ventilation around the front splitter to let more airflow to the brakes. This would prevent the problem from re occurring during the races.
The first race on Sunday got underway just before 11. Fiona got quite a good start, but was unable to hold back the fast starting rear wheel drive BMW of Martyn Bell. This also let a few other cars through as well. Fiona quickly set regaining the places she lost off the line, quickly re-passing the Alfa 156 of Richard Marsh amongst others. Next she came up behind the Lexus of Chris Stockton. He left a gap open going into the Complex and so Fiona went for it. Chris decided to shut the door and the two cars made contact. Chris spun, but fortunately Fiona kept control and gained another place.
Very soon she was in 14th just behind the BMW of Martyn Bell once more. She caught right up to his tail and they battled for several laps. Martyn is a very experienced racer though and he drove as defensively as possible. Fiona was unable to find a way past and they crossed the line just 3 tenths of a second apart.
Fiona told the team that during the race, her car had been on the rev limiter very early on in the straights which was losing her speed, the last thing you need at Thruxton. The team decided the gear ratios were the problem and changed them ready for race 2.
Race 2 started at around 1:50pm. Fiona again got a reasonable start but soon found that the car was again hitting the rev limiter on the straights and was even more down on top speed. This left her unable to defend her position on Thruxton’s fast sections around the back and several drivers passed her in the first few laps. Never someone to give up, Fiona kept driving as hard as she could and managed to catch up to the back of former Turkish touring car champion Erkut Kizilirmak. Even with her car down on top speed she was all over the back of his car, hunting for an opportunity to pass. Either Erkut was getting tired or his tyres were wearing out as he was sliding around more and more on the corners. Fiona sensed an Opportunity and went for it. Erkut had nothing left to defend with and she was through. This netted her a 12th place, only 2 positions off overall championship points. If the team could get the right gear ratios on the car for race 3 it looked like Fiona may be able to score her first championship points of the season.
Everything was set as Fiona took to the track for race 3 late in the afternoon. The grid was soon waved off onto the parade lap. Then Fiona heard a nasty sounding metallic noise from the car, the clutch was failing. She radioed the team with the bad news and was told to bring the car in. There was very little chance of a finish and a strong possibility of damaging the engine. Fiona wasn’t even to make it round the lap however as she lost drive and had to pull off at the back of the circuit.
It had been yet another weekend with lots of effort from Fiona and the team but very little reward.
“I’m very disappointed,” Fiona said “But it’s just one of those things, there’s nothing we could do, I’d really hoped to get a good result here.”
Fiona’s next race is the second meeting of the EERC Production S1 championship at Snetterton next weekend 11th/12th May. After two class wins at the first meeting, Fiona will be hoping for more of the same at the Norfolk circuit.
Report supplied by Marc Waller
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