Dragonspeed / Elton Julian racing news -- 11 Sep 12
Page: 1  2  Links

10 September 2012 - 16 years after his last race at Britain's premier race circuit, Elton Julian returned to a much reconfigured Silverstone to contest the fourth round of the FIA?World Endurance Championship with Greaves Motorsport co-drivers Christian Zugel and Ricardo Gonzalez. Through the fast sweeps of the former World War II bomber base, Elton's speed recalled his days there as a rising star in Formula 3 and Formula 3000 in the 1990s, which the frustrations of the weekend could do nothing to diminish.

The discovery of a gearbox problem forced the number 41 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan LMP2 machine to sit out the first 90-minute practice. "With Christian and Ricardo being rookies here, and it being 80% new for me as well, that really put us behind the curve. You just can't afford that kind of setback at this level," Julian said. Practice two allowed the trio to acclimate to the track but also showed them to be the slowest LMP2 on the straight, while their final practice was cut short by a tire shortage. Even so, Elton put on a charge in the wet-to-dry qualifying session and looked set to nab third on the grid until he was balked by a slowing LMP1 entry. He would start 10th in class, just a second off pole.

A demon start saw Julian join the tail end of the lead group, lapping as quickly as the eventual podium finishers. Elton fell victim to erratic manuevers by rivals including Greaves teammate Alex Brundle, and pitted after a single stint to position himself to finish the race. Christian Zugel enjoyed one of his most competitive runs of the season before handing off to Ricardo Gonzalez, but both suffered spins which increased the deficit to the class leaders. Back in the cockpit for the final two hours, Julian quickly suffered a broken alternator belt, ending any chance of a top-five result. An outstanding job by the Greaves mechanics saw the car back out after just 13 minutes.

"After the repair, the engine was suddenly revving freely and I could make the most of the car, which was totally glued to the track. We were the fastest LMP2 in the later stages of the race and my best lap made us one of six in the 1m51.3s bracket! We still collected a few points thanks to my fantastic crew, and luckily we're still fourth in the standings," Elton said. "Apart from all that, I have to say that driving Silverstone again was pure joy, especially the classic section from Copse through Becketts to Stowe, which is as fast and flowing as ever. The new bits are great, too, and I'm glad to see they've preserved the character of the place through all the changes."

  Next Page >>