Motorsport preparation company Tolman Motorsport have declared their delight at the performance of the Aquila CR1 that ran so promisingly in the Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone on October 1-3.
The car – dubbed 'Phoenix' after a fire at Castle Combe – required a complete strip down following the incident in July, before the Tolman team could begin to prepare the car for the endurance event. The feat was a significant undertaking, the car's wiring, brakes, suspension and clutch being re-engineered as well as an LS7 Chevrolet engine being installed in the car. A vast majority – Tolman estimate 80% – of the parts were manufactured in-house.
The car was tested in a wind tunnel before a two day test program at Pembrey, the running at the Welsh track helping to find a number of potentially serious problems before the team went to Silverstone for the 24 hour race.
The yellow car was the class of the field. Driven by Rob Huff, Phil Bennett and Kelvin Burt the car started on pole and had a tow lap lead after just two hours when the team undertook the first driver change of the race.
However, an on-track incident was to stop the dominant performance in its tracks. Contact with another car caused extensive damage which entailed an hour pitstop for repairs – including to the gearbox casing.
The stop dropped the car well off the overall lead, but once back out on the track – now in darkness – it was once more amongst the fastest on the track before an accident with Burt at the wheel ultimately brought a premature (and disappointing) to the race for team.
However, despite failing come away from Silverstone with anything like the result the team's hard work and the car's pace deserved Christopher Tolman, MD of Tolman Motorsport remains positive.
“I am delighted with the performance and reliability that we have developed with the Aquila CR1 race car,” he said. “Of course, I’m also bitterly disappointed that we weren’t able to take the result that we had dared to hope might be possible with a brand-new car but I think the pace that Rob, Kelvin and Phil demonstrated suggest that we got the package pretty well spot on, out of the box.”
“What I am most pleased about is that we managed this performance with a very limited amount of testing, as the time-scales we were working with were very tight. We had just two days of running and the longest we ran in any one session was 25 minutes, so to have a healthy lead after six hours is fantastic and a testament to the efforts put in by the whole team. It also proved the fundamental re-engineering work we carried-out in-house on the drawing board works in practice, as we were confident it would.
“I hope that we have not only demonstrated the potential of the Aquila CR1 as an endurance racer but also, that there is far more to come, once we have a chance to carry out further testing and development. The car has already been OK’d to carry on racing in Britcar and we hope to be able to demonstrate its ability to win races before too long.”