Solid showing at Silverstone GP
The UK Monoposto championship visited the iconic Silverstone Grand Prix circuit last weekend (July 1/2nd) with Mark Reade and the Leastone team looking to bounce back from a frustrating outing at Brands Hatch last month. They left the Northamptonshire circuit with a hefty haul of championship points, but were left rueing what should have been on a weekend that saw championship contenders suffer a number of issues. Reade was joined by David Heavey in the second Leastone 1000, Heavey making his first outing since Brands Hatch Grand Prix in 2015.
Friday testing was heavily compromised for both drivers, with Reade suffering an engine issue which limited power throughout the day and Heavey’s running limited by a drive line problem. Despite these issues, both drivers had a decent qualifying effort with Mark netting 5th place grid slots for both races and Heavey slotting into the row behind, with 7th.
A rolling start was utilised for the first time this year and Reade saw himself lose a handful of places, having gotten boxed in on the opening lap, while Heavey lucked onto the right line and pulled himself up to 5th place. As Reade began to recover his lost positions, he narrowly missed a shunt at the Brooklands/Luffield complex, which would bring out the safety car and give him a further opportunity to make up for lost time.
This would put him right behind his teammate for the restart and Heavey showed some of his rust with an error into Copse, which allowed Reade to pull a nice move into Maggotts, sweeping around the outside. With a grid of 50+ cars carrying varying degrees of horsepower and skill, it was likely going to be a chaotic race and the safety car made another appearance just one lap after it released the field earlier. The two Leastones were now lying 4th and 5th but unfortunately with a number of cars between them and the class leaders. In addition to this problem, both cars were suffering a handling imbalance, a legacy of the interrupted Friday running.
With a number of cars littering the 5.89km circuit, this safety car was a lengthy one and meant that Reade only had 2 racing laps to dispatch of as many cars as possible. While he made good progress in the limited time available, he could not latch onto the top trio and netted himself a solid 4th place. Following the 2nd restart, Heavey dropped off the tail of his teammate, but would finish 6th, despite struggling with the understeer issues that both cars were facing.
Race 2 was red flagged on the opening lap and the re-run pushed back to the end of day. When the cars did get the green flag, race officials instructed the field to start single file, in a successful attempt to avoid problems that caused the earlier stoppage. Reade had a mighty first lap, vaulting himself to second in class, but he then had to turn his attention to defending his position, which allowed the leader to pull clear at the head of the field. His teammate was going in the opposite direction, losing time hand over fist as he continued to struggle with understeer which had all but killed his front left tyre.
Reade would be embroiled in a 4 car battle for the remainder of the shortened race, albeit with cars outside of his class, he was working hard to keep them as a buffer to the third place driver who was chasing hard. Unfortunately this strategy would bite him, through no fault of his own. With a stranded car, Brooklands was under a steady yellow flag from lap 2 of the restart and entering the corner for the 5th time, Mark saw no need to defend. Unfortunately the car behind saw this as passing opportunity, despite the yellow flag, and launched his car up the inside of Mark. Worse still, the driver lost control and made contact with the no. 45 Leastone, damaging the steering and forcing him to retire. Reade was not the only victim and the resulting pile up saw the red flags fly for a second time.
At the time, Reade was safe in the knowledge that he should be awarded with 2nd place on the countback rule but unfortunately, the pace at the front of the field (the Mono F3 class was also on the grid) meant that the leaders had crossed the line prior to the red flag being deployed and this meant that Reade would be classified as 5th in class, having broken the timing beam in pitlane. Heavey was a beneficiary in all of this carnage, tip toeing through the mess to be classified 4th in class.
The team can look at the positives of what was a truly frantic weekend, with a brace of top 5 finishes for both cars and Mark making some inroads on the championship leaders. Unfortunately he had not recovered as much as he would have liked, particularly following his two of non-scores in Brands Hatch previously but even with that, he has now vaulted to 2nd in the standings. Reade and Leastone will now regroup, and begin looking forward to the championships next stop at the picturesque Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire in 3 weeks’ time, where he will be joined by Morgan McCourt who makes his second Monoposto outing of the year.