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Interesting Report from Pierre Demartin on USA Se7ens List

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  • Interesting Report from Pierre Demartin on USA Se7ens List

    [USA] Round 4, WERC (Western Endurance Racing Championship)
    Pierre Demartines pierre at demartines.com
    Wed Jul 14 20:38:46 BST 2004

    Dear all,

    "It could have been better..." and it definitely could have been much
    worse!

    Team Birkinsport and its two Birkin racecars continued the efforts on the
    Western Endurance Racing Championship. Last week-end at Willow Springs, we
    had our 4th serving of the NASA's WERC feat with the great folks of NASA
    SoCal.

    This chapter was a 3-hour night race (7 to 10pm).

    14 laps into the race, car 7 was punted on the right rear wheel while
    passing a competitor. About an hour later (consequence? maybe) it apparently
    had lost all the differential oil, frying the diff and starting a fire as
    soon as it came back in the pits (quickly extinguished --not too much damage
    except that the diff is a goner). The car was in 3rd position overall when
    it happened, but was then two laps up on the team closest to us in the
    points championship. It's really too bad that this happened, because it was
    Dave's turn to drive the whole 3 hours, and he was doing an awesome job!

    Into the third hour, car 6 (also trading 3rd and 4th places overall with the
    GT-2 Porsches) was punted while lapping a slower car in a different class.
    The hit was hard enough that it apparently deflated the right rear tire,
    with the result that when the car spun, the rim dug into the asphalt and
    sent the car into multiple flips and rolls across the track at over 100mph.
    Woody was driving at that time, and thanks to the fabulous cage by Roger
    Hamlin and to a good dose of luck too, he walked away from the wreck with
    only bruises and some very sore ribs.

    The words fail me to describe what I felt when, looking at the procession of
    cars stacked behind the pace car under full yellow, I couldn't see the
    little Birkin amongst them. I started alerting the rest of the team, and
    several endless minutes passed while the horrible feeling was sinking down
    in our respective stomachs... Finally, we heard the inevitable on the
    paddocks' loudspeakers: "it appears that car 6, the Birkin driven by Woody
    Harris, is the car that crashed between turn 1 and 2." Then, to our relief,
    it was immediately followed by: "The driver seems to be fine and is being
    checked by the medics as we speak."

    It was Woody's birthday on Sunday, so at midnight his daughter Amy, who was
    with us and was slowly trying to regain composure, gave him an improvised
    but lovely little birthday cake: a brownie with tons of candles on it...

    In summary, lots of emotion, few points, one car down, the other car
    damaged. We will repair and be back in full force for the next round:
    October 9th at Buttonwillow.

    The good of the weekend was that we discovered that we were competitive with
    the "big boys". There were 6 Porsche GT2's fielded by some professional
    teams (some of which competed at Daytona) and we were running in the middle
    of them. The Birkin's consistency in lap time and no need to change tires
    were overcoming the GT2's ultimate speed on this very fast race track
    (essentially two ovals linked).

    Standby for more in-depth coverage of the all the season's race on the Team
    BirkinSport website: www.teambirkinsport.com

    Cheers,

    ~Pierre

  • #2
    Sounds like an exciting yet harrowing night of racing but congratulations for a good try and being competetive against some very fast cars. I would also add bravery for going head to toe with machinery weighing two to three times more than the tiny seven.

    What are the specs of the Birkins re: engine size, weight etc.?

    Michael

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    • #3
      It's a shame they got shot down, after making 1st and 2nd place in Reno. But there are still 2 races in the series to come, I believe.

      The cars are single seaters stripped to the bare bones, but otherwise standard issue Birkins with live axle.

      Some of the goodies I know of are LSDs, 8" and 10" slicks, full cage (thank god), optimized suspension, fuel cells with racing filler equipment and serious (but not outrageous) engines, I guess 200-230 bhp. I know Woody Harris is lurking here sometimes, maybe he can provide more detail. I don't know the weight.

      Yesterday I dropped off my car at the Birkin shop and had a look at the wreckage. :shock: It gave me an idea what it means to roll and flip a Seven several times at very high speed. Mangled wheels, ripped and twisted suspension bits, dents everywhere and a warped chassis. Even the reinforced cage got some serious dents in surprising places. I mean the good news is the car did not come apart or fold and protected the driver. Woody mentioned something like his worst accident in 30 or 40 years of racing.

      I really don't want to do that in my road car with just a roll bar between my noggin and the asphalt. That means I am happy ith the low key track events and limited passing rules for now.

      Gert

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