Danny Precious racing at Pembrey.
Courtesy of Jonathan Fletcher of Motorv8 Media, here is how friend of ours, Danny Precious fared at his first race of the year at Pembrey in South Wales.....
The rural South Walescircuit of Pembrey was the latest venue to play host to the 2012 Nippon Challenge.
On Sunday 15th April, rounds 3, 4 and 5 of the series were held as part of the “Red Dragon Race and Track Club” race day.
Situated a few miles inland from the Pembrokeshire coastline, and on the site of a former WW2 RAF airfield, the circuit at Pembrey mixes high speed straights with slower but more technical sectors.
With this being the first event of the season for Yorkshire man Danny Precious and his Subaru Impreza, it was met with equal amounts of excitement and intrepidation.
Last time out at Pembrey, the circuit was unkind to Danny and his Impreza. A split oil hose to the turbo resulted in a small under bonnet fire which ended the day’s racing prematurely.
Since then the car has spent some time with Subaru aficionado’s “Scoobyclinic”, who worked to get the car back to rude health, and develop it further in readiness for the 2012 season.
A test session in early March was responsible for a major set back, as the engine started to smoke badly after 15 minutes running. Early indications suggested it was terminal, and this was backed up by an inspection which revealed a holed piston.
With further machining work now required, the engine was rebuilt again and dropped back into the car a week before the event.
In addition to the rebuilt engine, aerodynamicist Simon McBeath has spent some time evaluating the car, and has drawn up an action plan to improve on the car’s already well developed aero. (More on this later!)
The rear wing has been altered, and some work has been carried out to help improve the engine cooling. There are further modifications in the pipeline, but these will have to wait until the season finishes.
With the fresh engine only having run around 50 miles or so on the dyno, the car was booked to test at Pembrey on the Saturday before the race, in order to check everything performed as it should. With a 350+ mile drive to the circuit ahead, the trip to Wales got underway with a drive down on Friday afternoon.
With the test session booked for Saturday afternoon, everything was prepared in advance. The crew made sure the car was set up in the best way possible and Danny was given the all clear to head out on track.
With torrential rain, the car was fitted with full wets in order to give the car and driver the best chance.
With regular pit stops to check that there were no cause’s for concern under the bonnet, the team were comfortable enough to push on.
Unfortunately while pressing on through woodlands, the car left the circuit which resulted in the front splitter being ripped from the car, and leaving it looking a bit second hand!
Despite a search, the large and bright orange front splitter seemed to have vanished into thin air, perhaps now a souvenir for some supporter?
In order to obtain the best from the car, the suspension was adjusted using data obtained during the test session. This would take into account the circuit’s mixture of tight curves and long straights. Known for having an abrasive surface that is harsh on tyres, particular attention would be paid to the car’s set up in order to extract the best performance.
The car was given a final once over and fuelled for the session.
Super GT Class was made up of:
11. Adam Lockwood Nissan 200SX
14. Karen Philips Subaru Impreza
19. James Janicki Nissan Skyline
25. Mark Firth Mitsubishi 3000GTO
44. Danny Precious Subaru Impreza
96. Jason Langan Suzuki Swift GTI
97. Andy McLennan Suzuki Swift GTI
56. Nick Holden Toyota MR2 Mk3
In the largest class, and filled with some healthy competition, Danny looked forward to getting re-acquainted with the circuit where his 2011 season ended.
With an entry of 16 cars for race 1, and with nearly 50% of them running at the top of the grid, Danny needed to get the best qualifying time possible in order to have a good starting position for race 1. However, he would not be alone in this challenge, so good lap times would be critical.
With a relatively small circuit, setting a quick lap time would pose its own problems, as slower cars were likely to get in the way as the session unfolded.
With a lap expected to be around the 1 min 8sec mark, there’d be a maximum of about 12 to 13 laps to record the best time. However with having to take the time to warm up the car and tyres, there wouldn’t be a lot of time left to set a quick time.
The missing front splitter was having no affect on the car’s handling, so it was just a case of getting down to the task in hand.
Although nothing was untoward with the car, the incident in testing was causing Danny’s lap times to dip a little as a repeat performance was not something he wished to experience.
Qualified 5th in class
Qualified 7th overall
Fastest lap: 1.07.845 sec on lap 5 of 8
With the green flag lap complete and the course car safely off track, everyone sat on the grid, engine rev’s rising, poised for the lights to go from red to green.
With little time to wait, all * broke loose as the lights changed and the race got underway. With a drag race to “Hatchets” Danny fired past a handful of cars before stepping on the brakes in order to get safely around the hairpin.
Up into 4th place already, and the lead cars of Lockwood, West, Jesse, Precious and McLennan began to pull away from the rest of the pack. The sheer pace of the two Nissan’s was clear to see as they disappeared into the distance and a mistake allowed Jesse and his Celica GT4 to ease away.
Still nervous from the off track excursion, the fight for 4th place between Precious and McLennan was hard fought until the chequered flag dropped.
With the Swift unable to match the Impreza on pace around the circuits long straights, it was soon snapping at Danny’s heals come the tighter corners.
However it wasn’t to be and Danny held on to cross the line in 4th place overall and 2nd in class.
Finished 2nd in class
Finished 4th overall
Fastest lap: 1:08.052 sec on lap 9 of 14
Knowing that there was more to come from both driver and machine, the focus for race 2 was clearly defined. Sat in 4th place on the grid was an optimum position given the Impreza’s explosive acceleration out of the blocks.
True to form, the Impreza made a bolt for the lead as the lights turned green. Splitting the two Nissans as he trio raced for the 1st corner, Danny emerged the victor, leading the grid as race two unfolded.
A battle with West over the opening laps, saw the race lead change hands a couple of times, before West in his insanely quick GT300 class car took the lead and then pulled away to take the win.
The battle with West had allowed 3rd placed and race 1 winner Adam Lockwood in his lime green 200sx to close up, but try as he might to pressure Danny into making a mistake, he was unable to find a way past.
Finished 1st in class
Finished 2nd overall
Fastest lap: 1:07.924 sec on lap 3 of 14
With confidence boosted the final race was all to play for. Now sitting in 2nd on the grid, Jason West and his Nissan would need something special to beat the Scoobyclinic prepared Impreza to the first corner.
As it turned out, he had no answer to Danny’s start, as he left the pack cleanly behind him as he powered to “Hatchets”. Although a lights to flag victory for Danny and his Impreza, it was a hard fought race as both Nissans continued to hunt their prey down right up until the end of the race.
Finished 1st in class
Finished 1st overall
Fastest lap: 1:07.095 sec on lap 5 of 14
A fantastic days racing, with ever improving results thrown in for good measure!
The result of years of hard work has finally paid off, and is hopefully be the sign of things to come.
Thanks to everyone who has helped make this dream a reality.
Kev and the whole team at Scoobyclinic
Estella for the continuous support
Vaughan for the mentoring and encouragement to push harder, brake later and believe in myself.
Richard, Dan, and everyone else that has helped out in any way, no matter how small. You have all made this possible.
The next event is held atDoningtonPark on the 20th May, where Danny will be looking to continue with his winning ways.