Gregor Marshall's first race in his newly completed Firenza race car Ian coomber, VBOA Chairman
This report was received from Gregor on May 30th reference his first race the previous weekend in his newly built Firenza.
"On Sunday morning Vince and I left at the crack of sparrows to get down to Sparkford and the Haynes test track (many thanks to Mike Penn at Haynes for arranging this). I ran for about 45 minutes in torrential rain before a misfire developed. On closer inspection this proved to be the crank breather pipe had collapsed and folded over so it was pressurising the crank and therefore spraying oil out of the dipstick causing the misfire. Vince tidied it up and the car ran fine again for 15 minutes. Unfortunately I couldn't do any handling set-up as it was too wet, so kept the settings how they were and made a mental note to buy some re-inforced pipe from Merlins at Castle Combe the next day. The running did at least give me some time to get used to the car, slightly bed in the brakes and scrub the tyres a little and a big thank you to Billy and his other half for coming down and helping/supporting. Hard to believe I know, but I was actually in bed by 9:30pm on Saturday night, I knew Monday would be a big day!!
Once at Castle Combe on Monday we had to go through scrutineering for the first time, a bit nervous and it was made worse by the fact the scruitineer was training a new person, so they went over ever little thing possible, but we passed no problems!! Vince then fitted some reinforced pipe to the crank breather, problem solved. Next hurdle was the in the collection area for practice, the noise test. We needed to be 105db and I was asked to rev the car to 3,000rpm, another pass, brilliant!!
Practice was absolutely soaking and the car was a real handful to drive; it was set at the hardest we could make it go and with no LSD it wanted to spins it’s wheels and chuck me off the circuit everywhere!! I followed the other Droop Snoot in the race (an ex-Thruxton race car that was owned by Peter Blencow and driven by Dad a few years ago; so a good car!!) and a Camaro. I felt quicker in a straight line that I had a bit more acceleration and better brakes, so I kept a distance, got used to the car and track, knowing that a time near theirs would be respectable. It was a handful in the wet, but fun and only one half spin, so not too bad, but no idea of time.
I had qualified 9th in class, 20th overall and quicker than the other Droop Snoot (not last), so I was pretty pleased with that and at least there were no problems and I knew we could make the car a bit softer if the rain continued for the race.
For the race it actually dried out, maybe a little damp but for all intents and purposes dry. The car next to me on the grid (the Camaro) went early and then stopped but I held my nerve and got a reasonable start, good momentum and followed the pack into the first left, down the inside of a couple and then straight into the right, where everyone seemed to get a bit caught up on the inside, so I stayed wide, kept my momentum and went round the outside of most of them up to 10th (I might have had a wheel or two on the grass at one stage). Onto the next straight and the Camaro used it’s extra grunt and went by and into the second chicane I let a Capri down the inside (better safe than sorry).
I came round first lap in 12th overall and 6th in class and tried to get into a rhythm, learning the circuit again and feeling the car. I then saw a Dolomite in the mirrors catching rapidly, so I let him pass me and got back into the groove and started catching the car in front. I managed to close up right behind him and knew where I was going to try and get him but on the 5th lap coming out of the first chicane there was a big bang and I lost clean drive. I thought it was probably a half shaft gone, as I could accelerate a bit but then there was a grating from the rear. I decided to crawl back to the pits, keeping off the racing line, as I thought if I didn’t get out of the car somewhere where my Mum could see she’d be panicking!!
I kept to the outside of the track and was surprised how long and how many people went past before I got back to the pits, most impressed with myself!! Coming into the pits I realised how big crowd the crowd was, several thousand towards the pits (very impressed with Castle Combe’s efforts) but it did make me feel worse seeing all these people looking and not being able to finish. I pulled up where Vince was waiting and gave him the all over signal. We had a quick chat and think it's broken one of the teeth on the dif/axle/planet gears.
It was a real shame as the car was going great, I was getting quicker and quicker, I reckoned I had a least a second if not two in me and the car probably had a second to give, as the pads were still bedding in, the discs haven’t been used in 25 years and the tyres were still being scrubbed in. The other Droop Snoot only went slightly quicker on his last lap; my quickest lap was quicker than all of his others, so I think we would have definitely been much quicker and got a top 10 place if we had kept going. I was disappointed not to finish, as I thought of what Dad would be saying, plus the car was so good out of the box and when we do get the race engine and springs who knows, definitely more time to come. Everyone seemed impressed and pleased and there was no serious damage, so definitely good things to look forward to.
It was great so many people made the effort to come down, greatly appreciated and thank you. I don't think I've ever had so many photos taken of me; Marcus Pye of Autosport promised a picture in this week’s edition and Full Throttle magazine told me a few days ago they want to do big article on the car took loads of photos on the day, so good publicity and hopefully lead to some extra funds coming in, think I might have a new differential to buy now!!
All in all very encouraging just need to get the car for the next race, Silverstone, on the 16the and 17th June."