Wherever you find endurance racing you'll find Ginetta cars, and Central Europe is no exception. Repeating their 2015 season success, Kumeiga Racing has once again won the 'Le Series' Central European Endurance Championship with their Ginetta G55, owned and Raced by Chris Zeuner.
We spoke to Chris about the 2016 season and how the team raced to victory once again.
"Race 1 was an 8 hour race at Brno Autodrom, which the Ginetta G55 won with relative ease thanks to everything possible running exactly as plan. Races 2 and 3 were both at Most Audodrom and both 6 hour events. The car had an easier time than the drivers, as the hot summer caused temperatures in the cockpit to rise to a recorded 53C. All drivers suffered in such heat as even the drinks system meant that the water we were rehydrating with during the race felt almost too hot to drink (a lesson for us here is to position the bottle a bit further from where the exhausts run!)
Our result in the first 3 races put us P2 in the championship overall, just 2 points behind the leader. We had to win the final race, or beat them by 2 positions or more to win the overall championship.
And so everything was riding on the final race - 10 hours at Brno Autodrom. The long track is not dissimilar to Spa Francorchamps with hills, forestry all around and fast, sweeping corners. During the warm-up lap behind the safety car prior to the 09.00 rolling start, I could not help but notice the remains of the overnight frost on the grass at the edge of the track. There was no doubt in my mind that the first few corners could be interesting to say the least.
Starting 6th on the grid of 27 cars was not ideal, but as it was the end of the season we knew who would be quick from the outset, who to give a wider berth and who we would have to push to keep up with from the outset. With 10 hours of racing ahead though, I was fully aware that first lap heroics would not be appreciated. The end of lap 1 saw us move up to 4th place, and come the first driver change and refuel after 1 hour 30 minutes, we had climbed to 2nd. I handed the car over to James Chapman and Sebastian Sokol, who alternated driving slots between them for the next 6 hours.
The G55 ran perfectly, the day warmed up and conditions for the drivers and engine were excellent. With 2.5 hours left to the chequered flag, I found myself back in the car. Low morning sun had hampered visibility and I faced the same with the evening sun after about 30 minutes of driving. It was a case of head down though, as the Chapman / Sokol duo had handed the car to me in P1 with 6 laps in hand. A great lead certainly, but as we all know in racing, it isn’t over until you take the chequered flag.
1 hour into my final drive and the safety car came out. A hurried call chat on the radio signaled an early re-fueling stop under the safety car to allow me to get to the end of the race. The P2 car follow suit so we left the pits with the same gap in hand. Darkness fell for the last hour, and believe me, it was real darkness. The location and trees around the track allow for no ambient light. The race was ours to lose so I made the decision to let the P2 car go past me as we had a few laps in hand and were content to follow it for the rest of the race, a move that also allowed us to benefit from the light from their headlights. Team tactics had to prevail ahead of the pride of maintaining the lead. Despite the P2 car being only a few lengths ahead, lack of visibility and a cold track was still a great challenge – I don’t think I have had to concentrate so hard to keep the car on the track when driving so slowly for a long time!
Our tactics worked however, and the Kumiega Racing Ginetta G55 crossed the line to take the chequered flag P1 once again. Certainly a great finish to race, but also for the season. P1 in this race secured our overall victory in the Le Series Central European Endurance Championship for the second year in a row with the Ginetta G55.
A big thank you to Michal Kumiega and his team of engineers, Ginetta in Leeds (particularly Simon) for ensuring spares got to us on time, and to the other drivers – Jeff Alson, Sebastian Sokol, James Chapman and Bartosz Palusko for racing with me over the course of the season. Looking forward to next year already and all wondering if perhaps next year is the year we should move into a Ginetta G55 GT3… Now where is Ian Fletcher's number?"