The Piranha Motorsport name makes its debut at this weekend's Britcar 24 Hours. However, the team – led by Simon Mason – are aiming to repeat past glories.
Though the Piranha name will be a new one to the Britcar paddock, the team also brings experience. A 2011 campaign in the Ginetta Challenge has given them a solid grounding in the capabilities of the Ginetta G40 they will race at Silverstone, and Mason – with Chris Bialan – competed in The British GT Championship last season with a Lotus 2-Eleven.
The team's involvement goes back further, with Mason tracing much of the team back to the TJH Motorsport crew that ran a Honda Civic to sixth overall in the 2008 edition of the twice-around-the-clock race.
“It'll be my fifth 24 hour race and it'll be our fourth Britcar 24 hours,” said Mason, speaking to The Checkered Flag the week before the event. “It's the first under Piranha Motorsport but a lot of the crew, we've all done it before under TJH Motorsport with the Honda Civic and we had a lot of success with that – most of the crew are people – key people – from that team and they're in the team with us now. We're also joined by a team called Fauldsport, which is one of the top Caterham race teams as well so we've got a really good line-up of crew and drivers.”
The connection with Fauldsport – who run several Caterhams in the BookATrack.com Superlight R300 series – extends to driver Adam Balon who completes the driving line-up next to Bialan, Mason and the team's Ginetta Challenge pilot Ryan Ratcliffe.
Balon comes into the Britcar 24 off the back of his best ever result in Caterham competition, taking fourth place in the championship's second race at Donington Park on September 25.
However, while there is much continuity behind Piranha's 24 Hours challenge, there is also much new.
Ratcliffe – a Ginetta Junior graduate – is facing more new experiences than most in his first endurance event.
“I've probably done 45 minutes on a trackday but nothing serious,” Ratcliffe told The Checkered Flag of his previous experience. “I've never done more than a 20 minute race.”
“It's going to be gruelling,” he added, “but I'm going to get through it. I'm not how sure yet, we'll find out this week, but I'm definitely looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a completely new experience and one I'm really going to like.”
Also new for the 2011 Britcar 24 Hours is the Ginetta G40, though the team has experience with the car, and the G40 already has Britcar 24 pedigree after a works run example dominated Class Four – the same class Piranha will contest.
“We know it's a tried and tested car. We've run it all of last year in the Ginetta Juniors with Ryan Ratcliffe and obviously we've run tow of the cars this year in the Ginetta Challenge so we know the cars, we know they're good endurance cars.”
The nimble sportscar, however, has its weaknesses; “it's not quite as quick down the straights as the Honda used to be. It's a lot quicker in the corners, not as fast on the straight so technically it's a little hard to get the time out of it over 24 Hours. We can do the stint lengths but maybe not quite as quick.”
As for ambition, Mason is aiming high. “We want to win the class, but obviously there's a factory Ginetta team [defending the 2010 class win] as well with some very quick experienced drivers in the car. Class win still has to be a goal and if we can get into the top ten we'll be very happy.”