23rd June 2002
No Esprits on this trip to the British GT Championship at Castle Combe, Phil's company BMW 325i was used as we picked up a friend from Heathrow on the Saturday and then headed for the track down the M4. Phil's company sometimes sponsor Ferrari Driver Calum Lockie, so with Phil's boss over from America, I tagged along for the free entrance and paddock passes.
We reached the track around 4pm and headed for the competitors entrance, were we were met by Calum in full Ferrari gear. After a quick argument with security we were in and heading for the Ferrari camp. Qualifying was over and everybody was packing up for the night. No EB110 (see report from Silverstone) as the team owner had brought two BMW's this week. One X5 and one M3, both in white with black out windows and both looked to have had a lot of cash spent on them, with the X5 having a large TV screen with DVD installed. Matching Plates finished off the he's and her's look.
With no sign of anybody at the Johnson Motorsport camp, it was off for some grub with the Ferrari Team as a small pub close to the track where they were staying for the weekend. After getting a bit of a ribbing for the Lots Of Trouble Usually Serious joke, I managed to hit back with "Isn't it time you joined a boy band" after Calum was passed at Silverstone by former Boyzone member Shane Lynch in a TVR Tuscan R. Calum a decent bloke considering he drives a Dancing Donkey for a living.
Stayed in Bristol overnight, after a bit of motor racing of our own, consisting of 30 mins in a kart and a curry it was time to hit the sack. Within minutes it was time to get up, have breakfast and head for the track. After more problems we manage to get in as the GT were going out for practice. Two Porsche's and the Ultima all managed to spin coming on to the straight, which entertained the crowd before the race even started.
The Saleen and Ferrari head to the circuit for the start of the hour long GT race.
The Esprit waits wheel-less, while I'm in the Ferrari trailer talking to Calum Lockie about the race.
After a warm-up lap the cars grid-up before another lap and then the rolling start. 0-90mph in first and upto 700bhp doesn't scream standing start.
Not long into the race the drama started. Calum's Ferrari and a Porsche 911 GT car come together. Calum runs off to the left, the Porsche spins in the middle of the track. The second of two Saleen enters the straight at around 100mph and T-Bones the 911, pushing both cars of the track.
The 911 doesn't look to bad from where I was standing, the Saleen however looked in bad shape. With the Saleen driver out safely, but limping heavily, attention turn to the Porsche. Marshall's were quickly on the seen and with the safety car deployed the drivers were attended to.
Both drivers were injured, but none (to my knowledge) very seriously. The safety car remain out for 15 minute while the cars were cleared from the track.
Again from were I was standing the Porsche didn't seem to bad, but I'm sure from the impact there was plenty of damage.
The racing continue with the Esprit getting a full support, especially when the Ferrari retired with Gearbox problems, can't believe that. The Esprit had plenty of close racing with the TVR's, Morgan and Marcos.
Boy Band boy Shane Lynch chases down the Esprit before pulling out, maybe he shouldn't be doing dance routines while driving.
The surviving Saleen lead for half the race after the TVR speed 12 broke (again), but was eventually beaten into second place by the Lister Storm.
The Esprit finished 8th overall all, but was only sporting one exhaust pipe by the end of the race and that wasn't pointing where it should. The smashed up Saleen was put away for a rainy day, probably only good for parts now, but what do I know, you're probably see it racing next month!