Escape from the Castle
Lochlan Bearman the Essex racing sensation participated in Rounds 9 & 10 of the Ford Fiesta Junior Championship on the 16/17th July 2016
In his first season of car racing the 5 times karting Champion went into the weekend lying 5th in the Championship for 14 to 17 year olds.
“We are a new team and we are slowly getting to grips with how to set-up the car” said Bearman. “On the test day were in the quickest 3 or 4 cars all day and eventually set the fastest time of the day which, against the experienced teams, left us positive for the weekend”
Pre-qualifying practise showed this to be the case with a 5th fastest time.
In qualifying Bearman had only completed 2 laps when the suspension failed under braking, spinning the car and putting him in the wall at 70mph. The session was red flagged and Bearman was taken to the medical centre, but later released with some bruising to his legs.
The team worked on the car to repair the suspension and body damage and got the car ready for race 1.
Starting at the back of the grid the 14 year old got a great start and passed 2 cars into the daunting ‘Quarry Corner’, as the field streamed through ‘Bobbies’ he had a better exit and took another position into Tower. Taking every opportunity he could he completed lap 1 in an incredible 9th Position.
The PheonixFM driver was then managing at least 1 overtake per lap and as they crossed the line to start lap 6 he was up to 5th when the safety car was deployed due of an accident. “I was feeling great, the car was working well and to be honest the safety car meant the field would be bunched up and I was certain of a podium finish at that point” he commented. As the safety car came in and the racing got underway Bearman slowed to a stop on circuit. “I just couldn’t believe it – just when it looked so good the car broke and it sounded bad – I couldn’t move it”.
The gearbox casing had broken, the whole engine had dropped and the driveshaft has been pulled out. “It was probably as a result of the accident this morning” said team boss Gary Cooper .
The team were then up against the clock to replace the gearbox and drive shaft and ensure the car was OK for race 2. With Bearman sitting in the car ready to go to the assembly area the team finished the job, albeit with a gearbox that was not fitted with a limited slip differential (which is worth over 1 second per lap).
Again starting from the back and with the concern that the team hadn’t had time to check everything Bearman lined up for Race 2. As the lights went out Bearman got a great start and had made up 2 through ‘Folly’ and then another by out braking down into ‘Quarry’. Completing Lap 1 in 9th position the Essex youngster was fighting the car handling differently without the differential in the gearbox. On lap 3 he went around the outside into the super-fast ‘Camp Corner’, but with the car drifting wide he got onto the grass and ran down the pit wall sending mechanics running. Losing just one position he continued at an undiminished speed and re-joined.
“He showed great maturity and talent not to swerve as that would have led to a huge accident” said Gary Cooper. Bearman’s view on the incident was that it was “pretty scary! But I wasn’t going to lose any positions – I hope they got it on the TV!”. On lap 6 Bearman caught and passed cars into Quarry and then Camp corners. The safety car was called out again and this time it worked against Bearman as the clocked ticked down to the end of the race. The cars were released with 1 lap left and Bearman seized his opportunity to take one more position to bring the car home 6th to a jubilant Gary Cooper and Bearman family.
“I was disappointed after qualifying because we should have been in the top 5, then I was devastated after race 1 as that should have been a podium but Race 2 feels like a win after everything we’ve been through today. Huge thanks to Gary Cooper and my dad who have worked tirelessly on the car to get me out” commented an exhausted Bearman.
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster this weekend” said Bearman’s father John. “We looked in really good shape and it all went wrong. Lochlan has been fantastic throughout and has delivered to the maximum as always. We’ve now got a challenge to repair the car in time for Silverstone in August as the gearbox needs fixing and the bodywork needs to be repaired”.
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