Mathew Wurr's Tuscan Challenge

What has the power of a Ferrari F40 and the weight of a Ford Fiesta? A TVR Tuscan!

Some statistics:
450 bhp from AJPV8
Average weight 830kgs
0-60mph 3.3 sees
lOOmph 6.9secs
Max speed 190 mph

The run up to the race was not ideal - many late nights and long weekends as Matthew, Nigel and myself did all the work. Three engine changes: one dummy, one reject and the final one in place which Nigel and I ran in at Bruntingthorpe. This was to be our first outing amongst forty-three other entries! Over a dozen semi-professional drivers from touring cars, Formula Three, one make series, Tin Tops, even an ex-Formula One driver turned TV presenter!

Two half hour slots on the new International Circuit at Silverstone were to be our only 'balls out' test sessions the day before the qualifying race. Yes, with so many entries we had to qualify just to get into the final! The first slot was really a shakedown; we were way off the pace and Matthew had to learn the circuit layout - I think he would have preferred the old National Circuit, one of his favourites. The new one is very fast, very exciting, but sorts out the real drivers! We had a few problems: low oil pressure, overheating, couple of leaks, no shift light, but, all in all, a good job for our first outing after a major rebuild.The second session was better - more on the pace, but still driving a Tuscan like a Morgan! Must brake later, use the kerbs more and keep his foot in.

Saturday - Qualifying Practice

We had made a few suspension changes - we went for more front neg camber 5 degrees and upped castor to a staggering 7 degrees, which on sticky 9" slicks is like driving an 'artic' withou tpower steering! I just love inflicting pain on these pampered drivers!! We managed to get a consistent 12 laps in the 1.31 secs, qualifying 26th out of 37 starters. The car drove well with no appreciable vices ... turn-in good, with power oversteer as you put the 'boot' in. All we need now is a bit of the red mist!

Saturday pm Qualifying Race

Matthew asked Steve Cole (ex Morgan racer) his advice on starts. "Get the car rolling in first, snick it straight into second and plant problems".The lights turned green the noise and ground shake in the pits was indescribable. Thirty-seven Tuscans thundered out of a ball of smoke into the bottleneck at Copse. Unfortunately 'planting it' in second caused so much wheelspin that Matthew lost four places! But he drove well, overtaking three cars into Copse accompanied by clouds of tyre smoke, two cars on the run up to Farm (a tight right hander) before coming into the Grand Prix circuit at Bridge. For the first seven laps all was going well; unfortunately the water temperature was rising dangerously and on the last lap he lost two places, finally finishing 24th out of 37.

Sunday - Race Day

The overheating was caused by lack of air to the two oil coolers. This came under the description of 'arty bits', so two regulation sized holes were cut by Matthew in the bonnet. An oil leak from the nearside rocker was dealt with and a last minute panic with the propshaft / gearbox fixing was designed to get the adrenaline flowing!

The Race (seen through Matthew's eyes).

The race commentator pointed our that with 37 starters there was more horsepower here (16,656 bhp) than the Formula 1 grid at Interlagos. I had promised to make a better start (especially as the camera car was right behind me!). What I really need is a fly-off handbrake" 1 second board- 4000rpm. The lights went red, a gentlecreep - green ... feed the power in - no wheelspin ... fantastic start - past 1, 2, 3 cars, right up inside....avoid John Kent stalled on front row! Cars four abreast .... out-brake two more into Copse apex over kerb ..two Tuscans spinning in front of me - mayhem. Avoid them, past three more cars on inside. It crosses my mind I must be half way up the field and now they're going to red flag the race! Flat out in fourth, through Maggot (still three abreast!!).. Round outside (no choice) into new Beckets / Ireland complex - gain another spot on inside at chicane. Straightline over two more kerbs and settle down to 140 mph run up to Farm. Now I've got a race on my hands - I've elevated myself amongst the quickboys ... stay in formation through Bridge, Brooklands, Luffield, 120mph and two abreast around Woodcote, past pitboard - position 14th- Fantasic! Three more laps of the same... getting serious pressure from the quicker boys all round me ... run up to Farm -145mph. Yellow car beside me doing a 'chicken run' up my inside leave my braking later.. later .... hard on brakes... lock-up. An almost slow motion spin backwards onto rough. Blast, stalled it! Remember, must switch off ignition to reprogram engine. Fire it up nothing. Sit there as 1, 2, 3, 4 more cars pass.Try again Bingo! Lurid slide in front of oncoming traffic. Lose another place on the run up to Bridge brake - nothing!! Brake again... slows me enough to slide round Bridge on the limit.The spin must have boiled the brake fluid - it took me the rest of the lap to get back into the swing - lose another two places ... past pits - 20th, still in the points ....Lap 10, car beginning to lose grip front and rear - I must have cooked my ryres trying to stay with the Midfield (in fact it was oil all round track from Steve Cole's blown engine!). Mega power slide through Luffield loses another two spots. Just held off another on the line. With Tiff Needel and another disqualification, I finished 21st, one place our of the prize money!! We will miss next race at Oulton Park - same day as Morgans at Mallory. Don't you just love motor racing!!

(c) Mark Longmore & Marthew Wurr