Abra back on the podium at Donington

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Disappointed with forth last time out at Snetterton, the JCAM backed pairing of Richard Abra and Mark Poole came to Donington with their sights firmly set on getting back on the podium.

Saturday’s 3 hour race saw Richard Abra partnered with James Appleby and Anthony Scragg due to Richards normal team mate, Mark Poole, being unavailable due to family commitments. Richard Abra gives us an insight to new team mates, wet sessions and the strange world of motorsport.

“Mark still wanted the car out there for the 3 hour race on the Saturday, so he let James Appleby, Ant Scragg and myself drive the car. We were all very excited about this. It was good to team up with these guys, they have a lot of experience in these cars and are currently racing in the FIA European GT4 Cup with Generation AMR, so I couldn’t wait for the race to get underway!”

“Qualifying turned out to be wet and my first immediate thoughts was that Stuart Hall or Michael Mallock would easily take pole position in these conditions so I was a little apprehensive to start with. Neither James or Ant had ever driven our car, so the team sent them out first to put a few familiarisation laps in and to make sure they did the 3 laps required to qualify for the race. As I’d been testing the car two days previous it was decided that I would qualify the car. I waited in the pit garage until Jez Doncaster (Team Manager) gave me the nod. It was time to get in the car and I went out in horrible conditions and set a bench mark time. It was pole at the time but the rain then started to stop so we pitted and waited to see what everyone else would do. Vantage Racing, Stratton, Mallock and NMR all topped the time sheets at one time or another, but we waited until 10 minutes to go. I was dying to get out there, it seemed like the clock was stood still. With 5 minutes to go I went to start the engine and nothing happened, it wouldn’t start! We couldn’t believe it, we pushed the car back in the garage and the guys set about trying to fix it, I looked at the clock which seemed to be falling a lot quicker now and just thought there was no chance of getting out to do a flying lap, I almost took my helmet off. Jez just told me to sit tight, then “Big Dave” worked his magic and seconds later it burst into life. It turns out we had an air lock in the system and once it was released she started straight up!”

“I ripped it up down the pit lane and just concentrated on the job, unusually I was silent on the radio until I got to the straight, I saw the chequered flag so knew there wasn’t a chance of another attempt. I just said to the boys ‘please tell me that was enough... please!’ They screamed down the radio POLEEEE!!!! I went bonkers! 3 pole positions in a row and against the likes of Stuart Hall and Michael Mallock, I was absolutely over the moon, I knew this was only qualifying but I couldn’t help but have the biggest grin on my face!”

Ant Scragg started first in the car for the three hour endure race. After initially dropping to third in the opening laps, as he worked hard to get the tyres up to pressure and temperature, it didn’t take long before he retook the lead before and built a gap to second before handing over to Abra at the first round of pitstops.

“Ant came in the team did a fantastic job in the pits as always. The car was back on the ground with 25seconds to go! I was released just in front of the AM07 car and quickly got up to speed, with the team telling me we had now built a huge margin. The car felt great and it was game on for me in what was to be the first of 2 stints I would do in the race. Then all of a sudden one of the Stratton cars had a huge accident going down the Craner curves, breaking the concrete barrier! For safety reasons the race was cancelled and I had done all of half a lap and James didn’t even get in the car! Thankfully the Stratton driver was ok and walked away which is the main thing.”

With Saturdays race declared void the decision was made to extend the 90 minute race the following morning to a 120 minute race to try and recover some of the lost track time from round three. There would be no qualifying session for round four and the grid for the race would be taken from the qualifying session from round three.

“Mark was back with me and it was decided that I would start the race; I was excited but nervous. It was my first time starting and normally I maintain or chase a pace, this time I just had to get the best start and gain the most distance on the field as I could! “

“I got a great start and set the fastest lap on lap 3 which was great but I pushed just a little too hard on my tyres and they were losing grip rapidly. I had a 13 second lead until the rear tyres gave up on me going in to McLean’s and I had a little trip in the gravel trap! Luckily I kept my foot in and came back on the track just in front of Tiff in the Number 91 car, my tyres were dirty and I could feel the gravel stuck in them. The next couple laps I knew I had to take it easy but also make sure I didn’t let Tiff past, then I saw some traffic and used it to my advantage, pushing as hard as I could get the gap on the P2 car.”

“I finished my stint with a 47 second lead and handed over to Mark who did a much better job of managing his tyres than I did and he set about doing his best to fend off Stuart Hall who was rapidly chasing the field and had looked after his tyres perfectly. We were stunned to see him consistently do 1.13’s and worked out that this was going to be very close at the end. Jez was on the pit wall pushing Mark on the radios, who was doing a great in the car, but unfortunately Mark just couldn’t quite hold onto the lead and Stuart passed him with only 4 minutes to go and won by 8 seconds in the end. Overall, we were still over the moon with 2nd place against International standard drivers, seeing as we’re both amateurs! Lesson learnt on how to look after your tyres though!”

“Massive thanks must go to the Generation AMR Team who did a great job, once again providing us with the a great car, and also to our sponsors JCAM and Xynamic Photography for their continuing support and some awesome shots by Gary”

Second place at Donington mean Generation AMR maintained their championship lead which they’ve held since the start of the season. The Richard and Mark will miss the next two as they are concentrating on other projects but the duo will be back at Brands Hatch ready to challenge for the win.

Image: xynamic
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