UAE Touring Cars: Team A2B roundup from raceday 3: Wins, Podiums and Crashes

UAE Touring Cars: Team A2B roundup from raceday 3: Wins, Podiums and Crashes

Spencer Vanderpal

CircuitProdigital: So Gareth and Ian what have a2b Motorsport been up to since Race Day 2?

Gareth: We took the competitors in local reality TV show out for 2 laps in the two seater FunCup car at an evening track day. They seemed a little nervous before they got in the car but afterwards they all asked if they go back out again. On Jason’s car we refurbished the front suspension, wheel alignment and cleaned a blocked fuel injector. All of which meant that the car is still blue and not orange. At least we tell the difference between Jason’s and Spencer’s car in the pit lane.

Ian: Spencer’s car was run on the designated rolling road (dyno) after the last race following a technical enquiry by another team. We were confident of the outcome and our convictions were borne out with the car given a clean bill of health by the chief scrutineer.

CircuitProdigital: Race Day 3 is a two day event, will you be approaching the event any differently than usual?

Gareth: The biggest change is that the two mechanics will be working in the garage on Thursday and not at the circuit so we could do with having no issues. As a result Ian and I will be looking after the cars. Jason will be testing his car set-up and showing Willie the lines round the track.

Ian: Spencer is at the oil and gas exhibition in Abu Dhabi so he cannot make it. I will be getting his car and race gear scrutineered so that he can race on Friday. As Gareth said we will be using the day to help Willie learn the lines and hopefully knock a few seconds off his lap times. 

CircuitProdigital: So, chaps what are your objectives for this weekend?

Jason: Finishing both races. We think that the problem in the last race day was caused by a blocked fuel injector. So we have changed the fuel filter and cleaned the injector. Thursday will be used to check the cars new set-up after refurbishing the suspension and to find out if we have actually resolved the engine issues.

Spencer: More podiums and hopefully a win or two. Obviously having to miss the practice and qualifying due to work commitments won’t be ideal but I should know where to turn left and where to turn right.

Willie: 2nd time out for me and hopefully I will get at least one racing lap under my belt as we had a couple of car issues on race day 1. Jason is going to show me the line to take during the practice session so that will help.

CircuitProdigital:  So Jason, practice, qualifying and 2 races. How did it go for you?

Jason O'Keefe

Practice: This was a shakedown and showing Willie the lines round the tract. So I didn’t go out to set quick lap times. It looks like we have resolved the engine issues as the car ran faultlessly……

Qualifying: About half way through the qualifying session, the same miss-fire as before reappeared. Gareth “borrowed” the injectors off Spencer’s car and his quick work meant I got two flying laps in at the end of the session. These laps were very clear and although I had a touch of the “red mist syndrome” I qualified fourth in class. If I had driven a little less aggressively I could have qualified a touch quicker. A good start in the race should see a good battle with the cars ahead.

All Gareth has to do now is fit the injectors back into Spencer’s car and to fit my spare injectors, once Ian finds them at Spencer’s house that is.

Warm-up: The spare injectors were working well as I was quickest from Umair and Spencer. We will have to send the other injectors off for a checking to see if the problem can be diagnosed.

Race 1: Umair and Spencer soon disappeared into the distance leaving me in a three car battle for 3rd place. On lap 8 we caught the 3 battling Suzukis. Unfortunately Salman and Zlako has a “racing” incident. I hoped that I could squeeze between Salman and the wall but just as I thought I had made it, Salmans Clio rolled in front of me. The end result was that I hit the wall and all three of us where out on the spot. Hats off to Spencer for winning the race from the back of the grid. Guess this is what I will have to do in race 2, if I make the grid that is!

The car was recovered on the rescue truck to the garage where Maynard and X sprung into action like a pair of coiled vipers stripping the damaged parts off the car whilst Gareth went and collected two new suspension wishbones and a wing panel. Now the team had less than two hours to strip, attach and have the car pass a technical inspection. Ian and I attacked the cracks in the front bumper with the universal fixer of many things, duck tape. Somehow, Gareth, Maynard and X repaired the car in time for the second race.

Race 2: This time it was my turn to start at the back of the grid. Unfortunately neither Salman nor Zlako made it onto the grid.  With Mike Scott retiring his Astra (which he races in classic white and yellow livery) I found myself in a comfortable 3rd place and another visit to the podium. This was only possible thanks to the sterling work of Gareth, Maynard and X. Thank you guys, this podium was for you.

Spencer Vanderpal

Spencer – Warm-up: Thanks goes to Ian for taking the time off work and getting my car scutineered and getting it ready for today. I used the session to check all is well with the car and the grip levels of the circuit. Setting the 3rd fastest time was a bit of a shock as I wasn’t really trying that hard. No honestly I wasn’t.

Race1: Starting from the back of the grid with four class 3 cars in front of you was going to make a interesting start. Anyway, lights went green, down the pit wall I go and into turn 1 I must have been in about 6th in class. Foot down, drive at the limit and is that Umair I see in the distance?  Lap by lap I reeled in Umair and after ding dong battle I manage to get past and stay infront of him.  Really happy with my drive to go from last on the grid to finishing 1st. Podium time!!! The three car accident didn’t look very good and I hoped that nobody was injured.

Race 2: It appears as though I may have used a little more petrol than I was supposed to have in race 1 as the car was apparently a little lighter than it should have been. After much discussion with the scrutineers it was decided that I needed to add additional weight to the car before the next race. This gave the team about 15 minutes to find the additional weight and fix it securely to the car. Given the fact that Gareth and the mechanics where trying to repair Jasons car, this was going to be tight. I wouldn’t have made it onto the grid without the help of Jonny and Geoff, so thank you.

The race was in quite uneventful. I got a good start and I was able to keep Umair behind me and once I had opened up a gap I eased the pace.  So that made it two wins from two starts for the day and with Jason finishing in 3rd place a great result for the team. I wonder if a2b could finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in a race and lock out the podium?

Willie – Practice: After not getting many laps in at race day 1 I wanted to drive as many laps as possible today.  I was still struggling with a couple of corners so I sought advice from Jason. The plan was then to apply this information in the qualifying session.

Qualifying: Although I managed to knock off a second or two I was still slower than I hoped for. Taking out one of the polystyrene marker boards wasn’t on the agenda or park of the going faster strategy, no damage was caused to the car other than a bit of ribbing from the rest of the team. Sorry Fraser. Time to talk to some seasoned racers, who I suspect would all say the same thing. It would be down to me to then implement what they were telling me.

Warm-up: Did I improve my times, well yes marginally. I didn’t hit any of the marker boards so that was an improvement. Am I enjoying my self, oh yes, I think I may have uttered the words “this is brilliant, I am loving this” a few times in the garage.

Race 1: Jason explained the starting procedure to me. So here we go, my first UAE Touring Car start, first gear, build the revs, red lights go out and….. no, I didn’t stall the car. Everything was going well until the end of lap four. I just clipped the kerb on the inside of the last turn and round I went. Unfortunately I touched the wall with the rear of the car and both front sides. Darn, race over. I get out of the car and walk back to the pits, head hanging slightly low. 

Jason (after his incident) drove the car back to the pits. Although the damage looked cosmetic, Gareth thought that I may have bent a chassis rail. To be safe, we agreed that the car would be retired fro the rest of the day and to put the car in on a jig next week to see if the chassis was twisted and straighten it if it was.  To be honest I was gutted, but as the old adage goes “this happens when you race cars”.

CircuitProdigital: So Gareth and Ian, thoughts and plans?

A2B Team The team (left to right) Back Row: Spencer, Maynard, X, Jason Front Row: Ian, Gareth, Max

Ian: Two wins for Spencer would normally be the highlights of the day, but for once I think a third place finish is the highlight. The effort Gareth, Maynard and X put in to get him out for race 2 was rewarded by Jason finishing third in race . This really gave the team immense pride.

Race 1 - Spencer happy with his first place

Gareth: Willie’s and Jason’s crashes have given us work to do before the next race, but then something can always happen in motorsport. Luckily we have about five weeks to do the work as the touring cars have a day off at the next race day. Two wins and third from the day is our best achievement yet and it shows how strong the drivers and a2b Motorsport are as a team.

Race 2 - Spencer even more happy with his second win of the day and Jason O'Keefe in third

See you all again at Yas Marina on 16th & 17th December

TTFN, Team A2B

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