SEASON REVIEW: SAKER CHALLENGE WITH ENDURO CUP
Already a well-established and proven sports car in Holland, with over sixty-five cars, 2012 was just the second year for the Saker’s racing in the UK. And what a year it was! They truly proved their worth as a fast, reliable, race-winning sports car.
In the Saker Sportscar Challenge, it was Paul Rose, Tim Wheeldon and Steve Harris who dominated in the 270 bhp mid-mounted, 2-litre turbo charged boxer engine spectacles. The challenge moved across various prestigious UK circuits, plus Zandvoort to open and close the season and teams also entered the Euro Saloon and Sportscar championship.
In the latter championship, the Saker’s experienced massive success and proved themselves a huge force to be reckoned with. At Rockingham, Rose (Saker) showed his dominance straight away by taking pole position from Garry Prebble in his heavily modified 650 bhp Mitsubishi Evo RS, with three other Sakers lining up 3rd, 4th and 6th in a twenty-three car grid.
The first twenty-minute race saw Prebble take the initial lead and Rex Stamp move from 5th to 3rd in his supercharged Lotus Elise. They were closely followed by four Sakers, until the lead Saker of Paul Rose passed Stamp on lap two, then found a way past Prebble on the entry to Tarzan, and immediately started to pull away. In the meantime, Stamp parked up with engine problems. He left Prebble with the Saker’s of Harris and Wheeldon, snapping away at his bumper. The chequered flag was waved early due to poor weather conditions and Rose showed his dominance in his Saker, taking the overall victory.
Paul Rose joined the Euro Saloons and Sportscar Championship once again at Oulton Park, where there was a twenty-one car grid and he managed to set the pole time on only his second lap.
Rex Stamp tried to hold off Rose through Old Hall, but both Rose and Robinson in his Ford Falcon steamed past. However, leaving Shell, Rose slowed and was forced to pit due to a puncture. He rejoined at the back of the pack and managed to work his way back up to ninth before the 20-minute sprint was over.
For race two, Rose started where he finished race one (in P9), but steamed through the pack to 2nd by the end of lap one. By lap two, he had caught Stamp and they put pressure on each other for many laps afterwards. However, after Stamp made a mistake at Lodge, Rose seized his opportunity and slipped past. Unfortunately, the race was then red flagged and the final result counted back to lap seven, which meant that Rose was classified 2nd overall.
At Anglesey, Paul Rose took pole once again, while Tim Wheeldon was 2nd. Rose and Wheeldon’s Sakers made a strong start and just held off Stamp into the first corner, with Schofield extremely close in his Suzuki Cappuccino. Stamp managed to pull alongside Wheeldon, but could not pass. On lap two, Wheeldon passed Rose to take the lead and the two Sakers were running in super close formation at the front.
Rose passed Wheeldon again for the lead on lap four and by lap seven, these leading Sakers began to lap the other cars, with the Nissan 370s being first to be caught. Wheeldon passed Rose once again, while Schofield was also closing in on Rose who lost time passing the backmarkers.
Four full laps were run behind the safety car and when the race continued it was a two-lap sprint to the finish. Sadly, Wheeldon pulled off into the pits with a puncture and all his hard was wasted. Rose suffered no such bad luck and set the fastest lap of the race, on his way to a two-second lead with one lap remaining.
In race two, Rose demonstrated the strength of the Sakers once again. He took the overall victory by just over a second from Prebble. Wheeldon, starting from the back, never gave up and finished 5th after storming his way through the field.
The massive success story for the Sakers was their overall victory at the Birkett 6-hour relay. The Saker driven by Paul Rose, combined with the Saker driven by Mark Burton, Eugene O’Brien and Graham Pattle, and Graham Booth in his Caterham, dominated the momentous event.
The 62nd event was held on the Silverstone Historic circuit. Sixty-seven teams of up to six cars, three hundred and fifty drivers and around three hundred cars contested this relay event. The handicappers had to assess which of them is likely to cover the greatest distance in the time available. The cars competing included Radicals, Mallocks, Porsches, Caterhams and Morgans, plus many more.
Starting 3rd on the grid, Burton held this position to hand over to Rose at around the forty-five minute mark. Rose propelled his Saker into the lead and this is where they stayed for the remainder of the race, with all drivers staying out of trouble and making their mark at the front of the pack.
Rose and O’Brien were particularly quick. In fact, when the rain fell, Rose was around eight seconds faster than the key rivals. Eventually, after a marathon seventy minute stint, Rose came in and his wet tyres were reduced to almost slick condition. Burton left the pits with roughly fifteen minutes remaining on cold, wet tyres. With over a four-minute lead, he was able to bring the car home, having secured the outright "scratch" win on their first attempt.
A delighted Graham Pattle said, “The Sakers ran faultlessly, despite running long sessions and each car completed two to three hours of running. A great advert for the cars and the drivers! To win this race, your car has to be reliable and fast. This was a fun event that was run extremely well. The driving standards and courtesy of other teams was great and we would recommend the event to others…as long as they are slower than us!"
Series Director Paul Rose, added: “2012 was a massive success for Saker. We had many overall race wins against bigger powered, heavily modified cars. We have proved its speed and reliability and are looking forward to adding to our success in 2013.”