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 his championship rivals suffer a number of issues.
Friday testing was compromised with an engine issue that left the team with little to no set up information heading into the race weekend. It also meant that Reade was behind the 8 ball in terms of circuit knowledge, as it was his first time on the ultra-fast and highly technical Grand Prix circuit. Despite this, he was quickly up to speed during Saturday’s qualifying session, posting times quick enough for 5th in class for both of Sundays races and lining up 23rd and 19th overall on a combined grid that contained a whopping 53 cars.
A rolling start was utilised for the first time this year and Reade saw himself lose a handful of places, having got boxed in on the opening lap. As he 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 Reade a further opportunity to make up for lost time.
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. Reade had used that single lap to vault himself to 4th in class but unfortunately there now was a large number of cars between him and the class top three; such was the topsy turvey nature of the races first half.
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.
Race 2 was red flagged on the opening lap and the re run was 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. He then had to turn his attention to defending his position, which allowed the leader to pull clear at the head of the field.
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 the pitlane.
His only consolation was that he had made some gains on the championship leaders, but had not recovered as much as he would have liked, particularly following his brace of non-scores in Brands Hatch previously. Reade and Leastone now regroup, and begin looking forward to the championships next stop at the picturesque Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire in 3 weeks’ time.