CATALOGUE OF POWER ISSUES LEAD TO DISAPPOINTMENT FOR TILLETT ON SPA DEBUT
Milltek Sport Volkswagen Racing Cup driver Laura Tillett endured another weekend of frustration during the latest event of the 2015 season at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium – a series of unrelated power issues with her newly built VW Golf GTi spoiling realistic hopes of a season-best top 10 finish.
With rounds nine and 10 on Friday, 10th July, and Saturday, 11th July, marking the 24-year-old’s first ever races at the famous Belgian Grand Prix venue, the race meeting was also the first for Laura with the SlideSports team after switching to the squad following the previous event at Silverstone.
Unfortunately for the West Malling starlet and the team, her new Mk6 Golf GTi encountered a series of woes during qualifying and racing with 18th place in the first encounter the best result the first year saloon car racer had to show for her efforts.
“I can’t believe how many problems we’ve had this weekend, the car felt so good in testing and the team worked so hard to try and get to the bottom of everything”, said an exasperated Laura, “I don’t know why we’re having so much bad luck, none of the problems were related to each other so it’s all really baffling.
“The guys at SlideSports worked their backsides off to try and find out what went wrong but the team is going to have to totally strip the car down back at the workshop. Hopefully it’ll all be good for the next round, when the car was working right in testing we were really quick.”
Laura clearly had the pace to challenge for a season-best result at Spa, when she was able to display her true competitiveness, and at the beginning of the weekend hopes were very high of a suitably strong SlideSports debut – her first weekend in VW racing with a DSG ‘paddle-shift’ gear change.
However, any positivity was tempered by great frustration ahead of Friday’s all-important qualifying period when engine problems ruled her out of the session before it had even begun, a dislodged boost pipe the culprit.
Given dispensation to begin the first of the weekend’s races, round nine, from the back of the grid, the Kent racer produced pace comfortably good enough to challenge around the top 10 and was set on making strong progress, which she initially did.
Into the top 15 on lap one alone, Laura had impressively climbed into 13th position by lap three but no sooner had she broken into the top 12 than problems with fuel surge surfaced which meant the VW Golf driver had to ultimately be satisfied with 18th position in her maiden Spa race.
Ahead of round 10 on Saturday morning, everyone’s fingers were crossed for Laura’s maladies to be over and, to begin with, all went well. Rising through the order from the back to conclude the first lap in 13th position, everything appeared to be good but on lap two the power sapped once more and she was forced to retire to the pits.
“In the practice on Thursday everything was good, it all went quite smoothly and we didn’t have any problems with the power then”, reflected Laura, “As soon as I came out of the pits for qualifying on Friday though, the car conked out on the main straight. It turned out two pipes had come loose, one being the turbo pipe which was blowing through the engine.
“They managed to get me on the grid at the back for the race, even though I hadn’t done my three laps in qualifying, and the start was great – I made up a lot of places but when I overtook for 12th the power died because of fuel surge. I went to bed thinking Saturday would be a new day, no problems, but in race two the power went again and the engine would only rev to a certain level.”
She added: “I’m gutted for the team as much as me as they’re a fantastic bunch of people and they really did work so hard and do everything they could. We’re all determined to be back stronger than ever for the next round in a few weeks – we deserve some better luck!”
Laura will return to action on home soil for the next outing of the Volkswagen Racing Cup with rounds 11 and 12 of the season taking place over the weekend 1st/2nd August at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit in Kent.