Two racecars, one set of dampers. This was the problem facing Pat Doran and Steve Harris at Knockhill for the second round of the Monster Energy MSA British Rallycross Championship on Saturday. Unless you were one of the race engineers for the Autopoint team that prepares and runs both cars, the solution was quite simple, share the dampers!
Pat Doran’s new Citroën DS3 was at Knockhill. © Tim Whittington/RallycrossWorld.com
The problem arose because dampers for Harris’ Citroën C4 had been returned to their manufacturer in France for a service and a delay in completing this meant that the only way to get them back to Autopoint in time for the Knockhill event was to air freight them to the UK. “I don’t know what the problem was, why they were so late in being sent back, but the problem now is that they were impounded by airport security because they’ve got gas canisters attached to them and they would not allow them into a plane,” said Doran. “Steve’s car and my DS3 use exactly the same dampers, but they are different from any other car here. Steve’s spare ones were also away and I don’t have any spares for the DS3 yet so we were stuck with two cars and only four dampers that we could use.”
Having worked three days with almost no sleep to get Doran’s new DS3 completed and then transport it almost 500 miles (800km) from its Sussex base to Knockhill, the problem with the dampers was an added difficulty for the Autopoint team. Doran had the dampers on his DS3 first, completing his first heat before returning to the pit garages where Autopoint switched them to Harris’ C4. The event organiser played its part in the plan, scheduling five races for other classes between the two Supercar races in each heat. Harris’ also experienced some engine problems in his C4 during the day, this causing him to non-finish in two heats, which resolved the question of what would happen should both drivers have qualified for the A final in a more amicable way that Doran’s original suggestion: “If we’re both in the A final I’m going fight Steve for the dampers!”
As the DS3 was completed at Knockhill on the morning of the event, Doran had no chance to test his new car before practice. Working hard to try and get some kind of baseline setup on the new machine during the day, Doran eventually battled his way to fourth place in the A final, staving off repeated challenges from Andy Grant and Simon Horton to take the place. “There’s loads of potential in the car, the lateral grip is brilliant but the setup is miles off at the moment, I’m hitting bumps on the gravel section and I’m not really sure which way the car’s going to go next,” said Doran.
While Autopoint worked hard to keep Doran, Harris and Ollie O’Donovan in the event – the round one winner and points leader having power steering problems on his Ford Focus and driving the third heat without PAS – there was a contrasting air of serenity around Julian Godfrey Engineering’s Fiesta. Fastest in practice and in all three heats, Godfrey breezed through the event and was troubled only at the start of the A final where the setting sun shone into the starting lights. “I couldn’t see the starting lights so I waited for Steve [Hill, starting from second on the grid] to move and then went,” said Godfrey who was second in the first lap and then took his Joker Lap early. “I decided that if Steve didn’t take the Joker in the first lap that I would, then I had to get past Ollie [O’Donovan] on the track. When Steve took his Joker Lap at the end of the race I was able to pass him and win, it was a trouble free day for me.” Hill rejoined the standard lap to pass the chequer in second, the best result to date for his Mitsubishi Lancer E10 while O’Donovan’s third place keeps him second in the title race, one point down on Godfrey.