As Jack Bauer can testify, 24 hours is a long time. Especially when the task in hand is hustling a Golf diesel against some serious opposition. Team Milltek did just that, fielding a stellar team for the annual Dubai 24-hour race - and brought home the silver for their trouble!
Of all the different areas of motorsport endeavor, nothing impresses quite like endurance racing. Sure, anybody can build a quick car for a 20min race, and most decent drivers can string a set of hot laps together for the same period, but start to factor in the fatigue, failure and margin for human error that arises from endurance racing and you'll understand why it's the holy grail for all racers.
Respected exhaust manufacturer, Milltek, decided to dip its toe into the endurance water, so partnered with KPM Racing to build a machine to mount a full campaign. Although the two teams have worked together in the past, endurance would be a new discipline for both, requiring some serious focus - and many late nights - in order to put the tools and talent together.
The end result was #127 Mk6 VW Golf TDI and, although oil-burners aren't the first choice for most race teams, prodigious torque and parsimonious thirst make them ideal for 24-hour racing. So while the gasoline cars might pass on the straight, KPM could reel them back in through the turns and when they pitted for fuel...
For the British team's debut endurance race at the Dubai Autodrome, Milltek and KPM called on a trusted roster of talent; BTCC driver Tom Onslow-Cole, APR/VW Racing Cup Champion Aaron Mason, fellow VW Cup driver Josh Caygill, endurance racer Paul White and Britcar title-winner Javier Morcillo.
The team, run by owner Kevin Poole, made an impressive start, with Aaron Mason setting the fastest time in free practice - more than 2sec clear of the nearest class rival, with a 2:23.256 lap. Tom Onslow-Cole then qualified P2 to put the TDI on the "front row" of the D1 class. Things were looking good.
The race kicked off at 2pm local time, with Javier Morcillo behind the wheel of the #127 VW. Three hours in to the endurance challenge, the KPM team took the class lead, with Aaron, Paul, Tom and Josh maintaining position in o the night on the 5.39km circuit.
After receiving a 'Code 60' time penalty before the halfway mark, the team was in P2 when Aaron again took the class lead entering the 13th hour.
After stints by Josh and Javier, Aaron made contact with a faster car and had to pit #127. After a quick repair and driver change, Tom suffered a suspension upright failure caused by the earlier damage, so the team decided to rebuild the front-end, despite losing positions in the race.
The squad rejoined the race with Josh in P4 and a magnificent combined effort saw the rookie team back to P2 with one hour left to run. However, the racing gods would throw one more hurdle in their path as the transmission failed on the final stint. So after after a replacement was fitted in just 25min, Paul took to the track and brought #127 home, taking second place in the D1 class.
Catching up with BTCC star Tom Onslow-Cole after the race, it was clear the whole team enjoyed the experience: "To finish our first 24-hour race was amazing. I've had the best time with an awesome team. The event was so different to what we normally do and I was impressed with the camaraderie within the team. To finish second in class at our first attempt was amazing. Thanks to everybody at KPM Racing and Milltek Sport for the opportunity."
For information on the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai visit www.24hdubai.com
For information on Milltek, visit www.millteksport.com