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A storm shortened race – but Sam Leads Championship

SAM Randon and rookie partner Ben Clayden raced their Team Hard Porsche 911 to more success at storm-ravaged Silverstone on Sunday and the pair now lead both their class and the overall championship heading to Donington Park next month.

Story by Asbourne News Telegraph

Pictures by IHI Automotive Photography

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Clayden has started only five car races in his life but he is holding his own in the 175mph Porsche, the rear-engined beast that Ashbourne racer Randon is clearly relishing getting to know.

Silverstone is classed as an “elite sporting venue” which, under Covid-19 restrictions, meant no spectators and therefore no on-track commentary, all of which the drivers found an eerie experience.

IHI-CE-4659Drivers have a qualifying session each day, followed by an individual sprint race and a joint one-hour endurance race with mandatory pit stop and driver switch.

Clayden had the Saturday sprint slot and took a brilliant second place in the GTB class. He also took first go and the rolling start in Saturday’s wet endurance race, starting from row three on the grid and handing over to Randon at halfway, the team having to battle a “success penalty” of 20 seconds as a result of winning round four at Snetterton.

IHI-CE-3714The main thing is, I’m super proud of Ben. It’s only his third ever race weekend and the pace he’s achieving in the Porsche is just fantastic. It’s not an easy car to drive.”

The next day, Randon qualified on pole for the sprint race by more than a second but the race did not start well, a first lap spin dropping him down the order.
We made what turned out to be a bad decision with the tyres and I lost the back end through the Aintree kink,” said Randon.
But, with the engine in the rear, the Porsche spun in a very helpful way and left me pointing in the right direction so I was able to recover quickly without losing too many places.”

_DSC3852Another stroke of luck saw the safety car back the pack right up so any gap caused by the spin was negated. When the race restarted, Randon was able to attack the cars in front and, ultimately, reclaim the lead.
I made that Sprint Race hard for myself, in all honesty,” said Randon.
I made a couple of mistakes and lost a lot of ground with the spin but, fortunately, we were able to catch it back up.

The result was another win for Team Hard and it was on to the endurance race with the skies threatening.

_DSC0108Randon was ready for the rolling start with all teams fitting slick tyres but the heavens opened before the car had even dropped off the air jacks. Rain tends to work in Randon’s favour – but not when it is as strong as this,causing flash floods across the Midlands.

Soon, Silverstone was undriveable and the race was red-flagged just before the halfway mark in the 60-minute race but not before an accident at the fast Maggots corner due to aquaplaning.

I normally like the rain but when it becomes standing water it’s just undriveable. The car was aquaplaning down the pit straight, it was scary and the right thing to do to stop the race,” said Randon.

_DSC0039-2We were declared class winners and third overall in the shortened race but, to be honest, we were more concerned about the driver in the accident. Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt.

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When all the sums were done, Team Hard had strengthened their grip on the GTB class and they still lead overall by a small margin. “The overall championship is the new target, though a lot of factors outside of our control can come into play,” added Randon.

Ben CLayden and Sam Randon

The next round is at Donington Park on the rarely-used Grand Prix layout on September 11-12.Untitled-1

New year, new car, new look!!

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New year, new car, new look!! A rebrand was well over due and we are loving this new, fresh look. What do you think?!

This is the first of many new ideas we have planned, keep an eye out for more!!

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Sam wins out of the blocks with GT Cup win

Story by Ashbourne News Telegraph
Photographs: Ian Cutting Photography unless indicated otherwise

SAM RANDON stepped straight into a 175mph Porsche he had not driven before and delivered class wins for Team Hard when the GT Cup season made belated start at Snetterton last week.

DSC_2611The Ashbourne driver teamed with newcomer Ben Clayden to pilot the distinctive pink and green 911, which generates 460bhp and, with its engine mounted in the rear, a vehicle which offers different challenges to a driver. Drivers must adapt their style to manage the weight distribution and balance of the car throughout a lap.

GT Cup is a national format based on International GT racing, most famously Le Mans. It is an endurance format with two drivers swapping at the halfway mark. Multiple classes of cars with difference power and speed all race together with race-within-a- race classes all fighting for their own honours.

The GT Cup format gives each driver an individual sprint race too. Partnering with Clayden, Randon is now seen as the experienced head and part of his role this season is to coach and support Clayden’s driving to help him get faster.

107998386_4096663807070398_368486643491748058_oRandon took to the car almost immediately on the very technical and very long Snetterton 300 lap. It rewards the experienced driver. Early in qualifying, Randon set a time three seconds quicker than his nearest rival in class and was mixing it with the faster GTC class, reaching P5 on the grid for his sprint race and the afternoon’s endurance race.

In the sprint race, Randon led from lights to flag, racing instead with the faster GTC and GT3 class cars and finishing with a class win and a superb fourth place overall. The Sunday endurance race in the afternoon saw Randon taking the rolling start, from Clayden’s qualifying slot of P11.

109559037_4096663457070433_6659950636389310318_oBut Randon charged out of the blocks and was up to fourth place by the end of the first lap. He then battled another Porsche in the GTC class, eventually winning the encounter with a bold, controlled manoeuvre around the outside at Palmer corner. He built up a 40-second lead over the second car in class before a safety car incident compressed the field, wiping out any advantage they had. Randon was even leading the race for a short spell before dropping back.

We had a fuel pump issue raise its head just as I was coming in to hand over to Ben,” said Randon.

In his first GT Cup weekend, rookie Clayden battled the fuel issue throughout his stint still putting in impressive lap times to keep the competition behind him.

Ben has amazing pace considering his short racing career,” said Randon.

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It’s a great pairing and the coaching aspect adds a new element to my role in the team.”
The car was just mega. It’s a heavier car than the Ginetta I am used to but with much more power. But it is so sorted and balanced it is just a pleasure to drive. I’m hooked!

Team Hard boss Tony Gilham said: “Sam continues to excel in everything we put him in. A really mature drive.”

It was important to get back on track this weekend and support the recovery of our sport. The organisers did a great job keeping us all safe. When I was in the car, it felt like life was back to normal.”

DSC_1934With Randon and Clayden leading the class and the overall championship, the GT Cup moves onto Silverstone in August while the team – officially known as Team Hard with 24-7 Motorsport – work hard to build up a budget for the rest of the season.

We’d love to speak to any  companies looking to perhaps reward their employees with a day at the races.” added Randon.

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Man and machine in perfect harmony

Back with a bang after the pandemic …

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