Tiedeman Trophy - Rds 1 & 2 - Snetterton 300 - 3rd October
The 2021 Monoposto championship may have drawn to a close at Donington Park last month but there was no opportunity to rest for the Leastone team as they turned their attention to the traditional Autumn Series, the Tiedeman Trophy, which kicked off at Snetterton last weekend. Karl O’Brien used the opportunity to gain more valuable track time, to ensure he hits the ground running in 2022 and he was joined by team boss Paul Heavey, who once again came out of ‘retirement’ to pilot Morgan McCourts usual mount.
With both drivers not having driven the Snetterton 300 layout before, they took advantage of Fridays test session to bring them up to speed. The Monoposto series was not in action again until Sunday, so the team took advantage of the rest day to further fine tune the two cars.
As it turns out, that extra time didn’t help Paul Heaveys cause, as a faulty fuel rail caused his 1000 to coast to a halt after just two laps of qualifying. This would relegate him to the rear of the grid for both races but Karl was enjoying the technical, yet flowing layout of the 300 circuit and promptly placed himself on the second row for the first of the weekends races.
The first race got off to a poor start for the team when Heavey was caught out by oil on the track. A hefty impact with the tyre wall saw the red flags flying and significant damage to the Leastone. This delay resulted in a shortened race once the clean-up was complete.
Karl maintained his 4th place off the start and after some initial opening lap excitement, the field started to string out. Karl was enjoying the clean track around him and continued to chip away at his fastest lap time. He even managed to jump to 3rd place on the final lap, meaning he continued his strong run of results from Donington and took home his 3rd trophy in 4 races.
People talk about Red Bull repairing Max Verstappens car in Hungary a few years back as the epitome of teamwork, but those who witnessed the work between races might have similar praise for Leastone and the entire paddock! It was all hands on deck to repair the bosses heavily damaged 1000 between races, but familiar faces from the paddock all helped in making sure he made it to the assembly area with less than 5 minutes to spare.
With less than ideal preparation, Heavey understandably treated the opening laps with caution but eventually settled into a rhythm and began to pick his way through the 15 car field. At the sharper end of the field, Karl had a very similar race to that of race 1, again settling into 4th place. There was roughly a 2 second gap to the final podium runner and while he was gaining confidence with each passing lap, he never really got close enough to mount a credible challenge for 3rd overall.
All in all, Karl was happy with his weekends work: ‘This weekend was all about gaining more competitive mileage for me and I really enjoyed the running we got, this circuit flows really well. We again showed good consistent pace and I’m delighted to bring more silverware home to Robertstown!’
Meanwhile, Paul continued to gain some ground, eventually breaking the top 10 and coming home in 9th place overall, which was a welcome result given the drama of the day to that point.
‘At this stage I’m delighted to have had a race today! We didn’t have time to put a proper set up on the car so the handling was less than perfect, but it was fun nonetheless. A massive thanks to John Bowles, John Stapleton and Trevor Walsh for their help in getting the car repaired, without them we likely would not have made the grid. They just came to watch and reminisce about our old Vee escapades and I ended up putting them to work!’ said Heavey post-race.
Paul and the team will hope for a more straightforward weekend when Round 3 and 4 of the Tiedeman take place on the Oulton Park International layout, on October 23rd.