Last weekend, Fiona James joined the Intersport Racing team at Silverstone for a 24 Hour race alongside team members Kevin Clarke, Simon Atkinson and Ryan Lindsay.
None of the team are shy of a challenge, but this race threw more than a couple of curve balls their way. We spoke with Fiona after the race about what conditions in particular made it especially challenging:
“A new rule was introduced, limiting each driver’s maximum lap speed to 2 minutes 21. This was incredibly hard to stick to and a lot of drivers received penalties for speeding. Each time you were penalised you had to sit in the penalty box for 30 seconds. It also caused a few issues as people got to the last turn and realised that they were going to exceed this time limit, so would suddenly lift off, which can catch you by surprise if you’re right behind them.”
Why was this limit introduced?
“Apparently they’ve always done it with the pro class, which isn’t such a big issue when it’s one type of driver in amongst all the classes. Theoretically, it’s a way of evening things out but I don’t think it’s been very popular with drivers.”
The team also experienced a number of technical issues with the car, a #114 BMW M3, which included a snapped prop shaft and a hole in the radiator after one of the team had a small off.
“The radiator issue meant that qualification was a bit ropey, but the real fun started when the prop shaft snapped. Kev couldn’t believe it; he’d not seen it happen in over 30 years. Thankfully, Cor Euser had a spare and let us use it. If he hadn’t, it would’ve been game over for us quite early on.”
“We were hopeful of a podium early on as Kev got us up into 2nd in class and we’re all quite consistent drivers, but sadly with the mechanical problems the best we could do was 25th out of a total grid of 41 cars, and then 9th in class, which (all things considered) isn’t half bad! The team did a great job getting the car back out after each problem so big thanks go to them.”
Looking back on the events of the weekend, Fi concludes:
“24 hours of racing is a huge ask of the car and the driver. To win a 24hr race, first of all you have to finish and we managed that, which is a big achievement in itself. It was by far my most challenging race to date due to the very low visibility during the evening. I did end up in the gravel in the night stint, but thankfully there was no damage. The team worked incredibly hard to get us back out on track after a prop shaft failure and worked faultlessly as a team to repair the subsequent damage. I owe huge thanks to all of them and my teammates Simon Atkinson, Kevin Clarke and Ryan Lindsay. There were some challenges to deal with, but I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Finally, a big thank you goes to the marshals who work really hard in all weathers and still manage to stay cheerful despite the long hours in freezing cold, without who we couldn’t race.