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SPEED EuroSeries, Rounds 6 & 7, Donington – Report
Double Top For Xero

Dean Stirling narrowly retains the lead in the SPEED EuroSeries despite a commanding performance by the Xero Competition duo of Warren Hughes and Jody Firth at Donington Park. Jody, who became a father over the weekend and Warren, who was overcoming the disappointment of Le Mans, won both 90-minute races in very different circumstance with their WFR03. However, a measured performance by IF Motorsport Ligier drivers Dean and Matthew Draper saw the former move on to the next round at Imola in two week’s time with a slender and drastically reduced lead.

TFL Racing’s Daren Burke took a fighting pole for the weekend’s two races, putting co-driver Sarah Reader on the front row of the grid for the Saturday contest. However, Warren in one of Xero’s WFR03s and former Grand Prix driver Alex Caffi in a factory Wolf blasted past the lady on the run down to Redgate Corner.

For almost half the race the Italian kept the Englishman honest, taking the lead when he ran slightly wide at McLeans. However, Warren “didn’t panic” and continued on as the rain came down and the track quickly became saturated. Despite the fact that the pit window was still a few laps away, a number of teams dived in to change tyres. Warren stayed out as the safety car was deployed.

Warren’s wily engineer Geoff Kingston kept him informed as to how long it would be before the pit window would open. With Geoff literally counting down the seconds, and rather than risk another lap in the treacherous conditions waiting for the moment he could legally pit, Warren crawled almost to a halt. With the rain dispersing as quickly as it had appeared, the strategy proved good enough to put Jody, whose daughter Imogen had been born that morning, back into the lead. He was to spin and drop back for a while but his pace was fine and the race long enough for him to return to the front and what Warren called ultimately, a “straightforward” win. In second place came the other Xero WFR03 of Ben Clucas and Tom Bradshaw, the factory having withdrawn from racing in favour of its customers. Dean Stirling and Matthew Draper were third, despite pitting early for wets, thus maintaining the Guildford man’s championship lead.

The following day’s race really was straightforward for the Hughes/Firth duo. With the exception of the pit stop period, they led the entire race, pulling away with ease from the competition.  Warren reported that Geoff had made “some good calls” with regard to set up between the two races, making the car less nervous than it had been on the Saturday.

Initially, second place was held by Ben Clucas in the sister WFR03 until Ben spun off just as he was about the start the 29th lap. Dean Stirling moved up and then his co-driver Matthew Draper saw off Nigel Greensall to consolidate the position to the flag. “We stayed out of trouble," observed the championship leader.

When a rear wheel problem ended the race for Nigel’s Ligier, pole man Darren Burke took over in third, the last not to be lapped by the flying orange WFR03.

“On to Imola,” said former Formula Renault and ALMS driver Dean. He feels that the team has made major improvements since the start of the season and feels “relaxed and confident”. Warren, who has now won three out of the six rounds held so far, reckons however that the competition will hot up for the second half of the series.