Title glory at Donington
With 2 wins over the course of a 3 race weekend, Mark Reade and the Leastone Racing Team secured the 2017 Monoposto MonoMoto 1000 crown at Donington Park last weekend. A DNF in the second of the weekend’s races meant that things were not as easy as they maybe should have been, but a storming drive from deep in the pack saw Reade win the final round and with it, the championship title. Adding to the excitement, Brendan O’Brien had joined the team for the final rounds, grabbing his first podium over the course of the weekend.
With no testing for the no. 45 Leastone, Reade used qualifying to slowly build up pace, while learning the iconic Grand Prix layout of the Lincolnshire circuit. He logged a time good enough for the inside of the 2nd row for the first and second races with team mate O’Brien snatching a spot on the row behind. While 1st and 2nd fastest times set the grid for races 1 and 2, race 3’s grid to be decided on race two results.
Mark took full advantage of the front row competitors’ issues to jump into the lead on the opening lap but the field was immediately brought under the control of the safety car, to clean up some first lap incidents. Brendan had successfully negotiated the drama to slot in behind Mark and after 3 laps of caution, the field were back under green. Reade enjoyed a textbook restart, pulling some distance while O’Brien fended off attentions from behind. As the laps wound down, Mark would continue to pull away at a steady pace, crossing the line to take his 2nd class win of the year. While Brendan did drop places to some of the more powerful cars, he maintained second in class and recorded Leastones first Monoposto 1-2.
Conditions we damp on Sunday morning and unfortunately, there was trouble even before the start, as Brendan’s gearbox failed on the way to the dummy grid. This not only side lined him for race 2, but the lack of time and required spares meant he would also miss race 3.
Saturdays win, coupled with the fact that his nearest championship competitor did not finish race 1, meant that Reade had a simple task on Sunday; finish both races, regardless of position. The Leastones engine had different ideas however, as it seized on lap 3 of Sunday mornings race, while running a comfortable 2nd. The team now faced a race against time to swap out the damaged engine unit for Reade to even make the grid for race 3.
Thanks to a great effort from all involved, the new engine was fired up with a little time to spare. Marks task was to be made all the more difficult by a 19th place starting slot, albeit 5th in class but with his title rival 3rd overall. Reade had a productive opening 2 laps, jumping to 10th overall and 3rd in class by the time the safety car made another appearance, mainly down to the monsoon conditions the drivers were working with.
This compressed the field and Reade continued to make progress when the race got underway again, jumping up to 2nd by the end of the first green flag lap. He went one better on the following lap and took the all important class lead but worryingly, a misfire had begun to develop, making what was now the final lap a nervous one. Mark would hold position, crossing the line with just 8 tenths of a second in hand to take his 2nd win of the weekend and with it, his and Leastone’s first Monoposto championship.
‘Well, we didn’t make it easy on ourselves but I guess that makes it all the more enjoyable! At least that’s what I’m supposed to say, I think! I need to thank a few people that have made this year possible. The only reason I was racing was down the fantastic support from Finol Oils, Global service Centres and P&T Precision Hydraulics. I'm forever grateful for this year, what an experience and what a car the Leastone 1000 is! Leastone Racing adds another championship to the list. Thank you to Paul Heavey for driving the length and breadth of the UK and for all the late nights in the workshop. It was all worth it!’ Mark Reade – No.45 Leastone 1000