Direnza’s Jonny Fletcher continues his run of good form in Time Attack with another podium finish, this time in Round 4 at Donington Park
On the front foot
There was much to do in the build up to Round 4 at Donington Park, writes Jonny Fletcher. The Astra’s gearbox required a full strip down after Oulton Park, with third and fourth gears rebuilt. We also replaced the crown wheel on the differential, as it was missing a tooth, and changed the selector cables to make sure everything was ready for Donington on August 26th. An evening test session at the circuit prior to Round 4 confirmed the Astra was ready to rock.
Come the event’s Warm Up session, our plan was to put down a few laps and make sure the car’s set up was suitable for the conditions. By 9am, the mercury was already hitting 20C, so we knew it was going to be a hot day! The car felt amazing in Warm Up and filled me with confidence. We ended up with a lap time of 1:21.703 and 3rd in class.
The heat of battle
For Practice, it was a case of experimenting with driving lines and braking points – Donington is a fantastic technical circuit and there’s always more time to be found. As with the Warm Up session, everything went bang to plan with no issues to report and I managed a best lap time of 1:20.079 despite holding back a little. The car’s new Direnza ‘Multi Vane Technology’ intercooler was proving its worth as the ambient temperature continued to rise, keeping the intake temperatures down at a very workable level.
Three hours later and it was time for Qualifying. Driving in 30C heat, my biggest challenge was making sure nothing overheated. The plan was to bag a few banker laps, with cool-down laps thrown in for good measure. Advice from Pirelli suggested the Trofeo R tyres wouldn’t last more than three hot laps anyway, so this wasn’t a problem. I managed 13 laps in the 20-minute session (joint most laps in our class) and posted a 1:18.224 lap time, which was enough to secure 3rd place and a new personal best!
Full steam ahead
Refuelled and feeling good for the Final, there was everything to play for as the clock struck 5:20pm – the lower air temperatures a relief to myself and the car. The 15-minute session was interrupted after three laps due to a car going off into the gravel, so the pressure was on to find the limits in new conditions. Come the chequered flag, I’d complete nine laps – again the equal most out of everyone in the class – and posted a best time of 1:18.227. That was good enough for third in class and another podium finish!
Overall, it was another great event and the car ran faultlessly. We’ll give it a full service and thorough check over between now and Round 5 at Mallory Park on October 13th, to make sure it’s fighting fit. More soon…
Images: Rich Sams Photo & Time Attack