Greatworth, Banbury 17th June 2014 – After two drastically different starts to the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship for its pair of BMW Z4 GT3s, Triple Eight Race Engineering has made a number change ahead of the Snetterton round (21/22 May) of the popular national GT series, with the #8 car of Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne now racing under the number ‘88’.
In Asian culture the number eight is perceived to be lucky, but since entering British GT last year with the #8 BMW, Lee and Joe have finished just two of their nine weekends, with one weekend (2014 Oulton Park) seeing them miss both races due to an earlier incident. Something had to change and with both drivers a little superstitious, an application to change the number was duly made to the series organisers, SRO.
“We know that eight is meant to be a lucky number,” quips Lee. “The origins of the Triple Eight name come from the fact the number is synonymous with bringing luck. I’m not sure what has happened with us using this in British GT, but it hasn’t just been unlucky, it’s been phenomenally unlucky. I thought at one point we had a magnet in our car attracting others to hit us. It’s just been unbelievable to have received so much damage, so consistently.”
Lee continues: “Our thinking is that 88 can’t be as unlucky. We literally can’t do twice as badly as we have this year, so it can only be a good thing! We’re going to hang a rabbit’s foot in the car from here on in and have the factory blessed before the Snetterton weekend too. I’ll be stopping for some lucky heather on the A11 on my way up; I need to ask Joe if he broke some mirrors before the start of the season.”
BRDC SuperStar Joe adds: “It’s pretty logical when you see how lucky 888 has been this year compared to us. We’re doubling the luck of the number eight. I have a good feeling about the change, as the number 88 is special to me for two reasons. Firstly it was the door number of my parent’s house for over nineteen years, which has a lot of sentimentality for me. It also reminds me of one of my most eventful nights out, which is often referred to as 88 by friends, in that it involved two fat ladies – the bingo call associated with the number.”
The actual origins of the Triple Eight name came about almost twenty years ago when Roland Dane (one of the founders of Triple Eight) had business interests in Asia and came up with the name 888, or Triple Eight while trying to optimise his luck in the region. As time has passed names such as Triple Bypass have also been used on occasion by disgruntled rival competitors.
While the #8 Z4 has had a less than ideal start to the year, #888 has proved to a strong competitor, racking up the points in every race so far. Derek Johnston and Luke Hines sit fourth in the overall driver’s standings with 50.5 points, just 24 off points leaders Alexander Sims and Marco Attard. With a maximum fifty points available at Snetterton, things could look very different after the pair of one-hour races. In addition, Derek is third in the Blancpain Gentleman Drivers Standings after two tremendous stints in the 180-minutes Silverstone round almost three weeks ago.
British GT – 2014 Season Mid-point Q&A
Snetterton again marks the halfway point of the British GT season, and we caught up with all of the drivers to get their thoughts on the circuit and the season so far: Lee Mowle (LM), Joe Osborne (JO), Derek Johnston (DJ), Luke Hines (LH).
What do you think of the Snetterton circuit?
LH: “It’s a great circuit. I was always a big fan of the old track, but the new layout has some character to it too. It can take a little bit of time to get into it at Snett, it’s very twisty and technical now, but I like that. I prefer the more British tracks, which require you to do a lot of work on a lap, rather than some of the newer FIA circuits. It’s a shame they’ve resurfaced some sections of the track over the winter; I’ve always loved Bomb Hole and it makes it a bit easier now. It was more fun when it was bumpy and loose on entry.”
JO: “The old track was unique, it was a real one-off and it was all about slipstreaming your rivals along with some lunges into the stops. The new one is a bit of a car park and it’s lost its special qualities. It’s a bit beige, but does allow for some close racing.”
DJ: “It’s not in my favourite circuit in the world, but the final complex includes the Bomb Hole and Coram which are two great corners.”
Previous memories of Snetterton?
LH: “My last race here was three years ago in a Seat Leon in Britcar, but I took a win here in the BTCC and I have some good memories of that. Derek and I did some testing here pre-season and we went well. We’re very confident of being on the pace this weekend.
JO: “Lee got taken out at turn one, which is now one of our things. Then Nick Tandy hit us in the rear and spun me round in the second race, and in one of the most sportsmanlike gestures I’ve experienced, gave me back the place on the start/finish line. We ended up finishing fourth, but we had a race-winning car, so to not be on the podium was frustrating.”
LM: “We had a strong weekend last year and the car was really quick there. In the first race last year we got hit into turn one on the first lap; it’s becoming a bit of a theme for us sadly. That scuppered a podium for us, but we were quick. Then in the second race there was a pit stop issue, which sent us down the order and cost us another podium.”
DJ: “In 2009 I took part in my first ever car race here in a Radical SR8. I had the cross on my bumper and you know what, I won! Then at the end of the year, when I’d already won the Radical UK cup, Anders of Sunoco Fuels said to me that I needed to win both races to secure the drive in the Daytona 24 Hours – and I did it! Without those two wins I’d have missed out on an amazing opportunity to go the US and race. So I actually have two quite fond memories of the place!”
On the weekend ahead:
LM: “Joe and I are really looking forward to returning to Snetterton. Hopefully we’ll show the same level of pace as last year, if we do that, then we should definitely get on the podium. It’d be nice to avoid contact. After Silverstone I sat down and worked out that I’d been hit in six out of the nine races I started, and then there is the Oulton Park weekend where I didn’t even get to race. We’ve got to score some big points here at Snett. The car and team deserve some decent results and currently our points total is worse than if we started the season now. It’s all about getting race wins from here on in. Technically Snetterton is a home circuit as I have a house in South Lopham, so I do feel a sense of urgency when I get in a car and race here.”
JO “As a team we’ve done quite a bit of development work at Snett; the car is strong on the 300 circuit as we saw last year. It’s also Lee’s home track, which means there will be lots of local fans in attendance, clapping away. That’s always a bonus.”
LH: It’s great to get in the car with Derek again. He’s a very quick driver in his own right, and he always improves. He keeps me on my toes and I was a bit disappointed with my performance at Silverstone if I’m honest. I’m going to be fighting back hard at Snetterton; we want to win the title.”
DJ: “We’ve done a little testing here and we know the car was quick last year. Luke and I need to keep pushing on to keep the championship alive.”
On the year season so far/ahead:
JO: “There’s no pressure on us now we’re out of the championship. It’s a real shame that we’ve had our year ruined by mistakes outside of the team, but there’s not a lot you can do about that. With our challenge for the driver’s title over, we’re now just going to try and win every race and seal the team’s championship for Triple Eight; we’re the veritable fox in the turkey coop.”
LH: “We’ve had a good year. We’re fourth after four races and that’s important for our championship challenge. It took a little time to adjust to the BMW, but I’m happier now. As I said at the start of the year, I wanted to win this for my Dad, and I’m going to be going all out in the second half of the year to do just that.”
DJ: “I’ve got the same feeling that I had in 2009 in Radicals when I won the championship. That was my best year of racing ever and I’m getting the feeling back. It’s great. The car took a bit of getting used to and if I’m honest I don’t know what it will do in every situation yet, but I’ve got my mojo back and I haven’t felt like that for five years. GT Cup wasn’t a challenge, and last year in British GT I felt it was a bit pointless – no matter what I did I couldn’t ever effect the finishing position of the car positively. This year, if I do the best job I can possibly do, the car can win. I need to be pushed and I like to be under pressure – I feel like the more I give, the more I get. One feeds off the other. I’m really enjoying my racing this year, hopefully that shows with my performances.”
Race Weekend Information
Avon Tyres British GT Championship – Snetterton
Snetterton 300 Circuit, Norfolk
2.969 miles (4.779km), 13-turn race circuit
June 21 – June 22, 2014
Live Timing: http://livetiming.tsl-timing.com/141805
TV Info: Channel 4 7am (Sat 28/June) see BritishGT.com for more details
Saturday 21 June
FP1: 09:35 – 10:35
FP2: 12:35 – 13:35
Qualifying: 16:40 – 17:15
Sunday 22 June
Warm-up: 09:00 – 09:10
Race 1: 11:40 – 12:40
Race 2: 16:25 – 17:25