‘Not much really, we wanted it to be pretty much standard so that it would be reliable,’ said Wheeler. Right. Luckily Wheeler was being a little sparing with the truth and the reality is the Golf had been lightened to 1060kg, power had been boosted to 186bhp, thanks to tweaked injectors, turbo, intercooler, inlet and exhaust. Oh, and it now has Audi S6 suspension parts.
At one point the team was 12th overall
At the wheel of the Golf would be Andy Hack, Tim Stanbridge, Nick Swift, and Wheeler. Because the car was a diesel the drivers could manage three-hour stints and this would give them time on the petrol cars. Team PH was in attendance – i.e. me and Garlick – and despite the fact fire duty or the title of ‘wheel man’ was on offer we decided that moral support would be a far better use of our time.
Even though Britcar has a long way to go to match the atmosphere and crowds of an event like Le Mans (there was virtually no-one there), being inside a working pit is still suitably exciting. Just before the race I decided to head to one of the grandstands to catch the action, which turned out to be an almighty crash in a completely different area of the track.
Spare parts salvaged from thin air
After an hour into Stanbridge’s stint, with a lead of three laps over the second placed Lupo, the Golf suffered CV joint failure, leaving the car stranded out on the circuit.
By the time the Golf had been recovered to the pit and repaired, our three lap lead had become a four lap deficit. Stanbridge handed over a two lap deficit to Swift, who apart from getting tagged on the rear wheel when being overtaken by a faster car, had a trouble free session and handed over an 11 lap lead to Wheeler. Despite suffering chronic oversteer from the rearranged rear suspension geometry, an uneventful stint saw the team in 22nd overall at the halfway point.
Not only this but the car was 1st in class and enjoying an 11 lap advantage over the now second place BMW 330. Back in the car, Hack continued to lead the class throughout his stint and handed over to Stanbridge at 7.30am, having risen to 18th overall and maintained the commanding lead in class.
The car soldiers on...
Soon it was time to send it back out with Swift on board. Despite losing 18 laps to the nearest rival, the team was still leading its class, albeit by greatly reduced margin of two laps. It was up to Wheeler to maintain the advantage - and that’s exactly what he did.