Daytona 2002 - Lockie Denied Second in GTS.
Former British GT champion Calum Lockie was denied second place in the GTS category in the Daytona 24 hour classic last weekend.
Partnering Cor Euser in the Marcos Mantara, Lockie was contesting his fourth 24-hour race. Despite handling concerns, they were on target for second in the GTS category when worsening engine problems forced them out at the mid-point of the race.
Heading into the race weekend, the team had to tune the car to suit the Goodyear tyres they were using for the first time. "We had to set the car up on them to see how they worked," explained Lockie after the opening qualifying sessions. Importantly, their best time in the Thursday qualifying session was good enough to secure 22nd slot on the grid, fourth fastest amongst the GTS cars. Ahead of them was the eventual class winning Jaguar, the Porsche 911GT1 and the leading Saleen.
Despite being well placed on the grid, the team knew that getting the set-up of the car right for the race was all-important. "We worked away at the set-up. We had bags of understeer and it was very nervous at the rear end, but we eventually found quite a nice set-up," reported Calum.
Into the race, with more than 80 cars taking the start, Euser took the opening stint. However, having been expected to charge, the Dutchman was not able to make progress and slipped to seventh in class during his 90-minute stint, which included a rare spin.
Lockie took the second stint, racing hard for two hours in the warm afternoon sunshine. "I had some real handling problems and I was getting oversteer in every corner," said Calum. The increasing oversteer led to a scary 120mph spin, with the car stopping just inches from the wall. "The handling was quite evil," said Lockie after that particular drama. To add to the excitement of his two-hour stint, Calum had the bonnet bodywork fly off at speed, but it didn't hinder his progress.
Despite those dramas, Calum's performance had taken them up to third in class and 14th overall by the time he pitted to hand over to the third driver, Dutchman Duncan Huisman. "We made some ground by plodding on," said Calum, playing down his considerable performance in an ill-handling car.
Huisman and Euser then took driving stints before Lockie took over again at 8.45pm for his second stint. This would be a challenging three-hour session, taking them through to almost midnight. With the mix of pace and consistency demanded by endurance racing, Calum took the car up to a fine eighth overall, still third in class with only the lead Jaguar and the Porsche 911GT1 ahead of them. However, as his stint progressed, Calum knew that all was not well.
"I had oversteer everywhere, even on the way up the banking!" he reported. But that was not the only problem. "There was a real drop off in performance," said Calum, and it soon became clear that the handling problem was not their biggest concern as the engine was starting to go off. Huisman rejoined the race, but the engine problem got worse and worse and by 2am the team engineers elected to retire the car. Continuing would probably have resulted in complete and very expensive engine failure.
"The engine fuels mixture was leaning off all the time, and it was going to blow up if we'd continued," said Calum. Frustratingly, the Porsche 911GT1 later retired, and so second place in the GTS class would certainly have been their result had they been able to finish the race. "Second would have been very nice. But we showed well again, and I got some more fabulous 24-hour experience," said Calum.
Now, Lockie has turned his attention to the 2002 racing season and he is working to put together a full season of GT racing. "There are some fantastic possibilities from all over the world, so I hope to announce my plans shortly."
Many thanks for this report to Melindi and Calum - You can follow Calum's activities in 2000 on his website, but you'll hear how he's doing right here!