Ben Clucas Racing

Clipsal 500 23-26th March

Two podiums and third overall was a remarkable result in very difficult circumstances.

 

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Team BRM are new to Formula Ford and so asked Ben to help shakedown the car and do a one-off race at the first race of the season. He was very happy to help, despite not having raced a Formula Ford since 2003 and never on a street circuit. The task was made much more difficult by the very short time-scales available to build and test the new Van Diemen RF06 chassis and Duratec engines. When the chassis arrived late -only a week before the race, it became a Herculean task . The team did a magnificent job to build up the cars in time - including much late and overnight working - but with only time for the briefest of shakedown runs, it was inevitable that the race would be trying.

The two practise session resulted in 5th overall, and qualifying 4th - about half a second of f the pace - respectable, all things considered. However a variety of gear selection and electrical hiccoughs - none of TeamBRM's making - made consistent lapping difficult and were to recur throughout all the races despite the best efforts of the team.

The first race went well, up to third off the start, Ben was up with the two leaders Tim Slade and Paul Laskazeski. However a spin by John Martin cost him time, but he remained a comfortable third. On lap 8 both the leaders went off avoiding a stationary car causing a red flag . The TeamBRM car crossed the line first, but, perhaps surprisingly , the result was declared at the position on lap 7 - leaving him still third.

The second race didn't start so well, with a place lost. However the place was quickly regained when the leaders Slade and Laskazeski again came off, slowing Martin, and leaving Ben in the lead. Hampered by difficulty in selecting 4th gear he held on to the lead doggedly until lap 8 when Martin slipped by, the positions then being held to the flag.

The 3rd race was a disappointment after leading off the start. The car jumped out of second gear existing the chicane and was hit from behind by Nathan Caratti spinning them both out. Ben was able to restart and managed to climb back to 12th despite deranged rear suspension, and leaving him 3rd overall for the meeting.

Ben was philosophical. "It's been a very frustrating weekend considering that we led all 3 races and didn't get a race win. But on the other hand, given the unbelievably short time the team had to prepare the car, it's a credit to their hard work that we managed to be as competitive as we were. To finish third overall really isn't too bad - and it might well have been a lot better."

 

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