MG Trophy - Thruxton UK
Well what a weekend that was, closing ceremony of the Paralympics, CarFest North and Hamilton winning the F1 race at Monza. Yet the real action was in a small corner of England at the Thruxton Race Track, where the Evans sponsored drivers in the MG Trophy had an outstanding weekend.
Dan Neaves achieved an overall win, with his brother achieving a close third. Alistair Rushforth was 1st in class and 3rd overall, which meant that the Evans sponsored drivers all came in the top five. An excellent weekend’s racing; we caught up with them all and asked the same questions to Alistair Rushforth, Oliie and Dan Neaves.
1: How was the race at Thruxton?
Alistair Rushforth: Fantastic! Qualifying wasn't great, I've been chasing a vibration & knocking from the front of the car when turning right since 2010 & following Silverstone the entire front end came apart to be checked. Various components were changed to eliminate the problem but as soon as I left the pit lane for qualifying is was evident the problem was still there which wasn't great as the circuit involves turning right. The aim was to get round & see what the race brought us. Luckily the problem was eventually traced after qualifying with help & 'fresh eyes' looking at the car. A simple yet affect fix & the car was good to go.
Dan Neaves: It was a close race. I got the dream start from 4th on the grid and was in 1st by turn 2 after going around the outside of the leaders in turn 1. From there I had a perfect first lap, having a 2 second lead by the start of lap 2. I maintained the gap until a safety car on lap 4 which lost me my advantage. At the restart I managed to pull a small gap but Chris Bray (defending champion) was close enough to get in the slipstream on the long rear straight and forced me to drive defensively for the remainder of the race. We got very close and had a number of door to door moments, but I held him at bay until the last lap when his engine expired.
Ollie Neaves: The race at Thruxton was by far my best yet, qualifying was not great as we decided to run some worn soft compound tyres as the circuit temps were not that hot, the risk did not pay off as the front left tyre was worn to the canvas giving no front grip at all. In the race I managed a fantastic start getting up to 3rd until I missed a gear and went back to 5th, the car felt really good on the opening lap which enabled me to push hard and make it up to 3rd place by the end of lap one. Shortly after the safety car was deployed and the field closed up, when we got racing again I was fired up and attacking for 2nd place with Chris Bray whilst Doug Cole was hot on my heals, I took the decision to defend 3rd which let the leaders get away by a few car lengths losing me the toe. Soon after Chris retired from 2nd with a blown engine which put me in second, Doug was so close behind me I couldn’t see his bonnet which was entertaining at the high speeds we were doing. On the last lap I managed to hit 4th gear instead of second and Doug crept past me to take 2nd however I attacked back hard but couldn’t quite get him back before the chequered flag. Throughout the race I was experiencing problems with the front brakes on the car, they were not really doing much despite adjusting the bias, we will be trying a new compound for the next race at Snetterton.
In summary by far the best performance for the team with Dan winning and setting the fastest lap and me coming 3rd just a few car lengths behind with the second fastest lap by just 0.15 seconds.
2: Which drivers gave you the most competition during the race?
Alistair Rushforth: In the early part of the race I'd leap frogged from 4th in class to the lead with a healthy gap, however a safety car period eroded my lead and at the restart Richard Marsh was behind me. Richard managed to get past & I sat on his rear bumper for a few laps before making a move into the chicane on the last lap.
Dan Neaves: Definitely Chris Bray, it was a good clean fight and Chris was very close but I defended well and never lost the lead.
Ollie Neaves: My race was with Doug Cole and Chris Bray.
3: Were there any issues whilst on the track?
Alistair Rushforth: Front end grip, I think I'm running too soft a spring to be honest but I'm able to drive the car to the limit as it is. Plus a mid-judgement on my part with the rev-limit meant I wasn't using the full performance of the engine and was losing out on some straight-line speed.
Dan Neaves The car kept jumping out of 5th gear, which meant I had to hold it in while going around Church, the fastest corner on the track (!) The safety car made my heart sink; I knew this would allow Chris to get in my slipstream on the back straight. But I stayed focussed and drove a great defensive race.
Ollie Neaves: Struggled with front brake pressure, the back of the car kept locking first despite the bias being fully forward; this made the car unstable on braking meaning I had to break earlier than everyone else!
4: Any near misses?
Alistair Rushforth: I overtook Richard on the outside into the chicane on the penultimate lap & again a gutsy move from a long way back on the last lap, there was no contact whatsoever but it was close.
Dan Neaves: I had a huge sideways moment at Village at over 110 mph where I got on the marbles, in trying to control the slide I got onto the grass and only just managed to re-join ahead of Chris.
Ollie Neaves: Many, most of which are just a blur as the racing was so fast and so close, Doug got ahead on the run to the chicane at the end of the track doing in excess of 130mph but determined not to give the place away I decided I would not break until he did, this lead to both of us missing the chicane completely as neither of us could stop, but I stayed ahead which is what matters ;)
5: How was the car?
Alistair Rushforth: Apart from my misjudgement on rev limits & the springs the car was fantastic. Considering the weather was very hot & Thruxton is an extremely quick circuit, PC180 again did its job of keeping the engine at the right temperature even if inside the car was somewhat warm.
Dan Neaves: Apart from the gear problem the car was fantastic, we got the setup right and it gave me the confidence to push it to the limit. The engine power stayed consistent throughout the race which meant I had the legs on other cars down the straights, which was particularly important due to the gear problem.
Ollie Neaves: The car is feeling really balanced at the moment although still suffering with overheated front tyres quite early in the race, we will be working hard on the setup between now and Snetterton to rectify this. Once the brakes are working and we have more front grip there will be no stopping me!
The guys are back on the track again on October 13th and 14th, this time at Snetterton, for the final two races of the season and the chance of some more points for the championship.