Professional Motorsport World Expo racing team:
Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson
Championship: Britcar Production Cup
Team: Total Control Racing
Round 6, Silverstone, 22nd September 2013
The Professional MotorSport World Expo race team put in a dominant performance at the prestigious Six-hour Silverstone Britcar race on 22 September, the TCR-run car finishing in ninth place overall, and winning the Production Class by over four laps, plus topping its own Class Two category by 10 laps.
The team, which consists of Professional Motorsport World Expo-organizers UKIP Media & Events' Sales Director, Mike Robinson, and Managing Director, Graham Johnson, qualified for the 1,000km race second in class and 19th on a 32-car grid, but quickly started making positions through consistency, pace and reliably. By half-race-distance, the 260bhp, black-and-green SEAT Leon SuperCopa was up to 8th place overall, just 8 laps behind the Supercar class of Aston Martin GT2s, Ginetta GT3s, and Ferrari F430s.
It wasn't all smooth running, however. In the fourth hour, the SEAT's gearbox developed a fault that meant lazy up- and down-shifts from the double-clutch, paddleshift 'box, and indeed, a complete loss of drive on two occasions – an engine shut-down and restart at the side of the track being the only solution.
Nevertheless, the TCR team refused to give up and, despite the gearbox becoming more troublesome, its ever-slowing changes affecting lap times up by to 8 seconds in the last 30 minutes of the race, Robinson and Johnson came home to record that conquering win.
Johnson commented: 'We've had our fair share of mechanical woes this season, and we've a tremendous power deficit to those in our class, let alone the GT2 and GT3 cars, but fine car preparation and fast, consistent driving from both Mike and I meant we could demonstrate what we and the team are truly capable of. If it hadn't been for the for gearbox issue, and the fact that we had to carry previous success pitstop time penalties of 30 seconds during each of our five stops, I'm confident that we could have even finished in the top six overall.
Intermittent gearbox issue aside, the car was faultless and it felt fantastic to drive on the limit for six hours. It was a truly epic team effort and we'll be back next year to secure an even better result.'
Round 5, Snetterton, 17th August 2013
Snetterton race circuit features the two longest straights in the country, a fact that was never going to favor the Professional MotorSport World Expo SEAT Leon SuperCopa that has just 260bhp, versus the competitions' 300bhp+.
Mike Robinson put in a very strong qualifying performance, securing second in class and fourth on the grid of 26 cars. And at the start, experience meant Mike even made a place on the first lap, although he had to defend furiously down the straights until he and the second-placed BMW had broken free from the fourth-placed competitor, another M3.
Fifty minutes into the 90-minute race, Mike finally grabbed second place overall and first in class, but then it started to rain lightly. Needing fuel and it being time to hand over to PMW Expo Managing Director, Graham Johnson, Mike pitted – and the rain immediately eased, so it was back out on new slicks. And then the heavens opened three laps later!
After slick pitstop for rain tires, Johnson rejoined in second place overall, still leading the class. He lapped over four seconds a lap faster than anyone every lap for the last 20 minutes of the race, but it wasn't quite enough to take the overall lead, the Professional MotorSport World Expo car needing just one more lap to secure outright victory. Still, it was a race finish – the first in two rounds – and a dominant class victory.
Round 4, Thruxton, 21st July 2013
The Professional MotorSport World Expo team's first visit to Britain's fastest circuit saw them clinch third on the grid, again out-qualifying numerous substantially more powerful cars.
This time Graham Johnson started the race, the 39-year-old Managing Director of UKIP Media & Events, the company that publishes Professional Motorsport World and organises the World Expo, and was quickly embroiled in a battle for the final overall podium spot. Battling cars with over 100bhp more than their 2-litre turbocharged racer, Johnson broke free after 10 minutes only to immediately lose the power steering. He continued and maintained position for a further 20 minutes in the hope Total Control Racing could resolve the issue when the pit-stop window opened during the 90-minute race, however, the pump had failed, bringing the team's race to another premature end.
The team now lie ninth in the championship, but plan to switch to 'Class 3' for lower-power cars for the next round at Snetterton, rather than invest in trying to bring the car up to the 320bhp allowed in the Class 2 category they currently reside.
Round 3, Rockingham, 1st June 2013
It was another pole position for the Professional MotorSport World Expo team at Rockingham, securing the front spot by a tenth of a second over the more powerful Class 1 cars.
Mike Robinson started the race and led for the first lap, but the extra power of the Class 1 Cunningham-piloted SEAT saw him drop to second on the second tour. Leading the class and pulling away from the third position Cockill car, the Professional MotorSport World Expo entry suddenly ground to a halt at turn 3 after just 23 minutes of the 90-minute race.
Although the car was recovered to the pits, the Total Control Racing-run car was unable to rejoin due to engine failure.
The team has now dropped from leading the championship to 8th with five rounds to go.
Round 2, Silverstone, 11 May 2013
It was another successful weekend for the Professional MotorSport World Expo Britcar race team, with drivers Mike Robinson and Graham Johnson securing second in class and fourth overall. This was despite having to overcome a mandatory 30-second pit penalty that is applied once you've won your class, as the team did first time out at Donington Park in April.
The duo tackled a drying track in qualifying, taking overall pole position by almost two-tenths, but Johnson threw away the advantage at the start of the race with an error at the first turn. Working his back through the pack for the first half-hour of the one-and-half-hour race, the TCR-run car was back to third in class and sixth overall when the safety car came out to clear an incident. The team took the opportunity to change drivers and refuel, with Robinson maintaining third in class on exiting the pits, albeit almost a lap down due to that time penalty.
An inspired 50-minute run, helped by a second safety car, meant that Robinson caught and overhauled the second-placed car with just two laps to go.
Robinson commented, "We were thrilled to secure our first pole position in Britcar, and we were pleased to secure second in class despite being the only team with a 30-second penalty this time out. At least at the next round [at Rockingham on 1st June], we won't be the only ones with a longer mandatory pit stop, so we're confident we can take another class win – and we still want to be the first Class 2 car to take an overall victory too!"
The team currently lies second in the championship, just two points behind the Cockill HE Racing car.
Round 1, Donington, 13 April 2013
The Professional MotorSport World Expo racing team experienced an enormously successful debut in the Britcar Production Cup on 13 April when its drivers – Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson – took Class Two honours and third place overall.
The weekend hadn’t began smoothly for the pair, their Total Control Racing-run SEAT Leon SuperCopa having developed fuel-delivery issues, but a strong first stint by Robinson in a now-resolved car, meant he completed the first 50 minutes of the hour-and-a-half-long race leading the Class and fourth overall. His achievement was all the greater having raced and overtaken several more powerful cars from Class One…
Johnson, who is Managing Director of the company that organizes Professional Motorsport World Expo, then took over for the remaining 40 minutes, picking off third place overall on the last lap and gamely fighting off the fast approaching Cockill car to take that Class win.
Johnson commented, “We knew that we’d be competitive in our first Britcar outing thanks to our experience and Total Control Racing’s expertise, but we were as surprised as anyone to win our Class and to stand on the overall podium. Total Control gave us a fantastically reliable, fast car, while consistent quick, qualifying-like laps from both Mike and I meant we were able to punch above our weight.
“Total Control Racing is going to use the break between now and the 11 May Silverstone race to tweak the SEAT further, and then we’re going to try to take the fight to the faster Class One cars for overall victory. We’re praying for rain to even the playing field!”
The Professional Motorsport World Expo team currently top the Britcar Production Cup Championship table with 35 points and 7 rounds to go.