Round 6 of the 2009 Junior 1000 TAG Endurance season returned to Snetterton in Norfolk, the scene of GT Racings best result of the year, when they achieved 2nd place at round 2 back in April.
Snetterton luckily being the closest track to Team Manager Geordie’s home in Colchester, since the ‘old faithful’ race van was still scuppered from the breakdown returning from the last round at Pembrey, and Geordie had to use the car and trailer to transport the GSXR750 & ZX10R to the circuit for the trackday prior to the race, while Doné and Brad made their way up in another rental van (following the loss of ‘The Doctor’, the long standing team van/ambulance).
The weather again was kind, allowing near perfect temperatures and little cloud cover for the trackday and Saturdays race day. Friday saw our riders out on track to get dialed in for the weekend, with Brad only running for half the day due to waning tyre life and brake pads, and Geordie trying out his two bikes on the circuit that both riders generally run well at.
Luckily the team decided to get scrutineering out of the way on Friday, since Geordie’s leathers failed due to a small hole on the back (sustained at the last Snetterton round when his ZX10R met its demise), and Geordie was then able to get home and retrieve a set that would keep Race Control happy.
This weekend saw the welcome return of Pit Boss Sam Bonnet, and a new team addition of Chris the Submariner, who arrived on raceday with a van full of wheels, fuel, spares and tools Saturday morning looked a little worrying with drizzle threatening proceedings but not enough to trouble the track surface.
This soon became the last of everyones worries when, during the first free practice for Seniors and Nationals, Richard Slater was sadly killed on track at the end of the session.
The event was immediately postponed, with the riders lining up to get on track told to return to the garages until further notice, while 5 police cars and a helicopter arrived to deal with the tragedy.
Shortly before the scheduled lunchtime, and with no riders apart from the initial group having so much as seen the track, all riders were called to Race Control where HMRC boss Dave Mabbutt, after calling a minutes silence, advised the event would go ahead and we would all do it for Richard.
The new plan was for all riders to have 15 minutes timed practice, and then start a slightly shortened race structure. This being one of the race meetings where the Junior 3 hour race was tacked onto the second half of the Senior/National 6 hour, and so the Masters class completed their 3 hour in the first part with the 6 hour boys, abbreviated to just short of the full 3 hours, before proceedings stopped briefly and then reconvened almost immediately for the second part, for which GT Racing had qualified 5th on the Junior grid, but 3rd in class, and ended up 10th overall on the combined grid.
The brief qualifying session seeing Geordie’s ZX10R have its right crash bung fall off at the Bombhole, and so big thanks to the team in the next door pit who loaned a replacement. At around quarter to 4 the national flag dropped and over 30 riders ran across the track to their waiting machines, started, and tore away. Brad gained 3 places from the start and soon settled into a good rhythm, holding 3rd in class.
With around 10 minutes to run of the 35 minute first session the Safety Car was called out for a faller at the Esses. This turned out to be terrible luck for GT, who were only two bikes behind the car, meaning nearly every other team picked up a lap – this would eventually mean the end of any podium hopes for our apparently luckless team.
Pitting shortly after the Safety Car pulled in, Brad rode up to a perfect transponder change by Sam and Chris. Geordie then rode off for his first session to put in some good consistent laps, before settling in behind Claire Bowyer of TM172 Juniors due to the fuel light coming on 4 laps from the end of his stint (claims that he was simply trying to get a look at Claire’s behind were denied).
Another excellent changeover at the hands of our fine Pit Crew and both riders enjoyed productive second sessions, with Geordie stating that this was the first time he’d truly felt comfortable on the Kawasaki all year.
Hard luck to #44 Graphic UK racing who had to return to the pits due to a lost armband at pit exit (in Endurance both riders wear alternate coloured identification armbands), although this undoubtedly benefitted GT Racing since Graphic UK lead the championship.
With the slightly shortened race time of around 2h40m it was Brad who took the chequered flag for GT in 4th place, just ahead of #24 Spellfame Racing, and Graphic UK, who alternately occupy first and second in the championship standings, thus strengthening GT Racings 3rd position in their first season.
While disappointed not to make the podium here, the team were pleased that this event had been faultless on their part (a first all season), with only the Safety Car robbing them of a trophy, but that’s racing! Big thanks to Brads mum and sister Ann and Vicki, Robin, Merv and Paula, and Stuart and his son Ben for their most welcome support this weekend, as well as the essential and brilliant efforts of Sam and Chris, and ‘Cushion bunny’ Doné Schreiber, as well as Niel Chapman for website creation, updates and maintenance – Thanks guys!
We look ahead now to 19th September for the final round at Silverstone National circuit where we expect a big following and some great end of season results. Of course followed by a big party!
See you there! www.gt-racing49.com Sponsors needed!!