I got this report in from Swede Team Motor last night. I feel a little ashamed that I missed their first race meeting towards the end of last month.
It was with great expectations we arrived at Mantorp Park Racetrack on Saturday morning to participate in this year’s first Endurance Race on 29th April. This would be the time to find out if the efforts during the winter would be enough to keep up with the ever increasing competition in our class (Class 1). During Saturday’s time trial it was obvious that the Honda Civic Type R cars were even faster after the update of their chassis.
At 9 o’clock on Sunday morning the Swedish flag indicated the start of the first race of this year’s season and the grid was more crowded than ever. 26 cars were lined up and the organiser of the race series promise more teams to join later in the season.
*Extra comments in italics from Anders, race co-ordinator*
Just 10 minutes before the start I made a last check over the team radio with Peter Dahl, the driver in the drivers seat for the first ‘stint’, I approached the car and could see some fluid under the car.
Run and get a mechanic open the bonnet to check what can be wrong. We found a hose clamp not tight enough, however it was as tight as it could get and just 5 minutes to the start. Not much to do but to hope for the best. The hose clamp had to be checked during the first pit stop, I noted in my ‘race log’.
After about 40 minutes Peter reported that the car was losing power. As it was about time to do the first driver change and general check on tyres, hose clamps etc. Peter entered the pits. The team is lucky to have Peter, as he is working with engine management systems on diesel engines at GM (Saab)…
After saving all the data from the engine management system in a laptop, ignition was turned off and on and the second driver was out on the track again, reporting full power again!. We had lost about 2 laps, so victory in the 3 hour race was not possible without the competitors having problems. The hose clamp was dry as a desert when checking, apparently the metal part expanded due to the tempreture and the joint sealed?!
The rest of the 3 hour race was ‘standard procedure’ except that after 2.5 hours the driver reported that he had been hit from behind by a blue Porsche. Our ‘standard’ Saab 9-3 TiD was able to continue the race but the Porsche 993 RSR finished the race there and then, with a broken radiator and a broken front suspension!
The yellow flag was out and we used this opportunity to take the car into the pit for a check, the Porsche had hit the rear right door it did not look very nice but it would not influence the performance of the car.
We finished the 3 hour race as third in our class. A new ‘feature’ of this season is that the 3 hour race is a part of the 8 hour race, not as last year when there was a 3 hour race on Saturday and a 8 hour race on Sunday. So there was still 5 hours of racing ahead.
After 3.5 hours of racing we discovered that the left drive shaft (bellow) was leaking grease. To replace the drive shaft was judged too time consuming, the decision was to stay with the leaking bellow.
* Anders’ comments, again *
In spite of the low temperatures we could observe a significant tyre and brake pad wear. When two hours remained of the race we had to make a decision, should we replace the parts and be able to go full speed or should we go slower and be gentle on the brakes?
The Honda Civic Type R had retired some time ago, because of an exhausted gearbox, so we were leading our class. The decision was made to take it slow and we sent out the second last driver and started to check lap times.
The driver soon reported that the tyres were so bad that it was difficult to break without locking the wheels. After some more thinking we decided to replace brake pads and front tyres, we would not be able to keep our first position for another hour and 45 minutes in the current pace.
Of course (Murphy’s law) the front right caliper did not want to co-operate fully and the calipers were smoking hot so the pit stop including change of driver took some 15 minutes.
There is a regulation saying that no driver can drive for more than 90 minutes at a time. We sent out our last driver with 89 minutes left to go… So by now we were on third in our class, it was full throttle ahead to bring us back in first place… What we had forgot was that the others had to do some more driver changes and even re-fuelling.
With 30 minutes to go we were leading our class by 3 laps, a comfortable lead. That is until Peter reported that the front left drive shaft must be broken. He had to go slower, again we had to monitor every lap (time) to see how slow we could go and still win our class. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life and in the end we won the class by 51.3 seconds (2/3 of a lap)!
Unfortunately the handicap against the faster cars has been changed this year so a win in our class was just enough to be 5th overall :-(.
Anyhow, not a bad start of this year’s season after all.
The next race is 19-20 May, hopefully we will race two cars. The V6 Ethanol car was not finished after the crash last October…
By the way, Swede Team Motor will take part in the Saab Festival in June (at the Saab Museum I believe). Feel free to have a chat with anyone of us.