TR Register 2014

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Paul Hogan explains how the team came about and shares his post Le Mans Classic report

Post race thoughts from Michael Cotti Team Leader - Paul Hogan.
After months of planning and preparation for CLM 2104 it was finally all over and the  Michael Cotti - Penrite team has returned to the UK in high spirits after spending a tremendous week at Le Mans.  Without a doubt, the return to ‘normality’ was something we were not really looking forward to as how could everyday life compare to the thrill of what we had achieved by racing at the Le Mans Classic?  
To discover where this particular journey started we need to wind back to June 2013 and the Le Mans 24 hours race proper.  Duncan Wiltshire of Motor Racing Legends had invited me to take part in the supporting race he organises for the ACO .  Needless to say I jumped at the chance and I offered the drive to John Sykes and Barry Sidery Smith with Paul Gerring acting in support.   The car ran faultlessly and we had a great time there but it was on the way back that the idea of running a team of three cars at the following year’s Classic event began to take shape.  Paul’s car had already run at the Classic in 206 and 2008 and so was an obvious candidate for the team.  In August, whilst competing in the Gold Cup at Oulton Park, I ran into Tim Stamper, who now owns OKV777, the very first TR2 to compete at Le Mans.  Tim was very supportive of the idea but sadly he was unable to commit to the team as he was still sorting out the finances of his late father’s estate. 
Not long after the Gold Cup, I had a ‘phone call from Terry Smith who by chance had been doing some work for Penrite Oil and were thinking of ways to promote their new range of classic oils.  Terry knew I was keen to race the TR again and so I was asked to prepare a proposal outlining the various options to the Penrite Oil Company that would enable them to enter the classic racing scene.  I tabled three options to them and entering a high profile race like Le Mans with its wider European connections appealed to them but could we get an entry?
As the TRR’s undisputed ‘King of Blagg’ I of course said “Yes, no problem” but I then had to enter into a steady flow of correspondence with Peter Auto, the organisers of the Classic in order to bring this about.  After months of negotiation, our entry was finally confirmed in January but still with only two cars.  With only days to go before the entry list closed Neil Fender finally got his act together and became our third team member with his TR2.  We now had three cars entered in three different grids which would give spectators the opportunity to see TR’s racing for over 9 hours of track time.  Something which hadn’t happened since the works team was there in the 1960’s. 
The team piggy backed onto the Register’s Castle Coombe track day for testing but it proved rather disappointing. Paul Gerring’s car ran well but was damaged in the paddock after accidentally hitting the ramps on his trailer.   (Couretesy of ‘Neil Should have gone to Specsavers Revington!)  My own car wasn’t even allowed to run having failed the stringent 100DB noise test by just THREE decibels. 
Two weeks later I took my car to Goodwood where it sailed through their noise test but while accelerating down the pit straight towards Madegwick corner there was an unexpected BANG! and the car came to stop.  It transpired that the distributor drive skew gear had stripped the teeth off the camshaft.   As debris may have gone into the engine a full strip down and rebuild was necessary which was undertaken by Matt Smith of S&M engine services.
By strange coincidence, Paul Gerring was also having trouble with his camshaft having run its bearings.  We both solved our camshaft problems by fitting new cams supplied by Steve Hall of TR Enterprises which are ground to their own specification.  They proved to be very effective and delivered a good spread of power and torque throughout the rev range.
Having finally sorted our engine problems out there was no time left to undergo any further testing at Bruntingthorpe as we had planned. The team had arranged to meet up at Portsmouth to catch the 10.30pm overnight ferry to France. On arriving at the dockside it was like joining a classic car meeting with all sorts of classics and competitors cars lined up on the dock.  We eventually set sail for France in high spirits and floated on quite a bit of beer as yet another English invasion of the continent was under way.  Next morning we made our leisurely way to Le Mans with an obligatory stop at a cafĂ© on the way for breakfast.  Unfortunately, they had run out of Croissants and so in a ‘Coals to Newcastle’ moment I rustled up some we had brought with us from our local Sainsbury’s! 
We arrived at Le Mans to find a good number of transporters parked up already waiting for the gates to open at 2.00 pm.  Needless to say French officialdom was to the fore and no one was allowed in! By four o’clock tempers were getting frayed as it was now well over 30 degrees.  The British stoically queued up and awaited their turn. The French did not.   We finally got into the site at 7.00pm to find our advance guard of ladies had secured a decent sized  plot for our team which eventually comprised of the 3 x race cars, 4 x trailers,  3 x tow cars, an American RV motor home , a vintage Bentley, Phil’s TR3S  a couple of other cars and a motor scooter. All this kit might sound impressive but in the equipment stakes we were definitely nearer to the bottom of the pecking order than at the top. Some of the rigs other teams brought along had to be seen to be believed.
Thursday was devoted to admin and scrutineering. All three cars sailed through the appendix K safety checks but when I went to have my entrants licence checked the organisers refused to accept it on the grounds that it was only valid for the UK and they would not allow us to race!  Sacre Blue!   I pointed out the official that the licence WAS in fact valid as it had an endorsement issued by the FIA and the MSA that said it was ‘valid for historic international events’ and was this not indeed an International historic event? “Non!” Came the reply. “It is a UK licence and you cannot race”
The scene was now set for a re enactment of Agincourt with me asking which part of ‘valid for international historic events’ don’t you understand and I demanded to see a higher authority.   Eventually  after much going back and forth to confer they capitulated (don’t they always?) and I moved on to the next admin desk for some more paper work and fingerprinting.  Meanwhile, John Sykes and Neil Fender were standing behind me when we heard a lound but rather strangled scream from another competitor who was waiting by the desk I had just left.   John thought he was also having an argument with the French over his licence but sadly, it turned out that he was having a massive heart attack brought on by stress and had collapsed on the floor.  Given my own recent heart scares I can only sympathise with him as French admin and officialdom is enough to give anyone a heart attack.
Thursday evening saw the team meet up with the MG boys for a very informal dinner at Ecommoy.  As one would expect there was the traditional inter team rivalry between the two Marques but the banter was very light hearted and a great night was had by all.
Friday morning saw the drivers briefing.  As usual it was conducted in French and English – the race is predominately an English affair with a smattering of other nationalities.  This was not without humour and all the English speakers laughed in the right places. The French remained silent even when the joke about not driving in the organiser’s garden was told in French.   (Well we all thought it was funny).
Practice is split into two sessions, daylight and night time.  Our first slot was absolute chaos.  There was nothing wrong with the car but the pit lane discipline that is so necessary at Le Mans was completely absent.  Other teams parked in our allocated garage and blocked our car in making the obligatory driver change and absolute shambles.  It is of course important to get the driver change absolutely spot on as there are pit lane penalties for speeding and leaving the pits too early.  There is a 60kph speed limit in the pit lane and the TR3S doesn’t have a speedometer.  You also have to be stationary for 60 seconds so the minimum time you should take is 90seconds but anything longer costs you time and track position. 
The night time practice session was much better but it was the first time John Sykes had driven there at night and the transition from the bright lights of the pit area to the absolute darkness of the Mulsanne Straight made for some ‘interesting’ driving.  As John says in his post session interview, it was the scariest thing he has ever done!
The race itself follows the traditional 24 hour format with each grid or plateau split into three 43 minute races, each of which is roughly 8 hours apart.  Kick off is at 5.00pm on the Saturday and ends 24 hours later on the Sunday afternoon.  For one race in each grid the drivers are allowed to sprint across the track but the other two races are by a rolling start.  Our team would be racing in Grids 2, 3 and 4 but with each car in a different collection paddock. This would make communication between the three TR crews difficult and so we each had independent pit crews to handle the driver changes.
The Fender-Broad TR2 was first off at and Guy Broad set a cracking time of 6min .01seconds.  My own TR3S was next and we also had the Le Mans Start to contend with.  As Barry Sidery-Smith had done this piece of theatre many times before I gave John ‘Syko’ Sykes for the honour.  As the time for the race came near the stewards came into the paddock to collect the cars to the pre grid but of John there was no sign.  A quick phone call to him found him still sitting in his motor home! He was convinced he was doing the second stint and so he had to run to the collecting grid on the Buggati circuit and do a ‘Superman’ style change into his racing overalls in full public gaze – there is never a ‘phone box handy when you want one is there?  Take it from me, seeing Syko getting into his Nomex underwear is not a pretty sight! However, we made the change over with just minutes to spare but it wasn’t a good way to prepare for a race.   
After a difficult Le Mans style start Syko then put in three good laps and our driver change worked well.  Barry then put in a really fast sub 6minute lap but due to an error on refuelling he ran out of petrol on his last lap!
Meanwhile, Paul Gerring, Carl Kidel and Ernie Cole had arrived to take over our pit for their session with the TRS which also performed faultlessly.  While Barry and John went off to get some much needed rest Tony Jeanes and I made our way back to our paddock to retrieve and service the car as our next session would be at 4.00 am in the morning.  With petrol only available from the organisers at £6+a litre – yes really- it was costing over £200 to fill the TR up and each 13km lap was consuming a gallon of fuel.  With no fuel available in the paddocks the officials told us to get some jerry cans and take them to the refuelling point.  – Which we did but the officials at the refuelling point would have none of it and told us to drive the car there.  In his perfect French, Tony explained to them it was rather difficult to drive a car without petrol but they were having none of it.  It seems there are regulations and then there are French regulations!  In the end Dave Solomans and his fellow TR people from Wensum Group appeared like ghosts in the night and helped us to push the car down to fuelling point in the pit lane where I was relieved of yet another £200!
Meanwhile, the weather was starting to begin deteriorating badly and sometime around 2.00 am the heavens opened and lightning filled the sky.   It would be a very wet and dangerous race if the weather continued like this.  
The sound of engines being run up brought our paddock back to life.  Barry Arrived for his first stint at the wheel and we set off for the start line paddock with me holding an umbrella to keep the rain off. It would be a rolling start this time behind a pace car and so a fast first lap was envisaged.   We were not disappointed and Berry came in right on time for the driver change over.  By literally pulling Barry out of the seat, we strapped John in and he set off for his first ever night race.   The result can be seen of the TRR web site as Wayne Scott interviewed him right afterwards.
The 2nd hand over to the TRS pit crew was straightforward and we went off for some much needed sleep.  Not that we got any but following a quick breakfast we went back up to the paddock for our final session at midday. Once again Barry would start the race with Syko taking the chequered flag.   This was a truly great race with real drama on the final lap as the leading Aston Martin DB4GT spun just before the pit straight and allowed the Lotus 11 which was following him an unexpected win.
Our own results were nothing less than fantastic.  We entered the race expecting nothing more than with hopes to complete the course without bending either car.  With 70 plus cars on each grid and large speed and power differences between the top line cars and ourselves we never expected to finish anywhere up the grid placings.  Moreover, despite one or two problems with the TR2 and TRS all three cars finished without a mark on them. Also, because our pit changes were right on target we didn’t score any penalties and we ended up with two 3rd. in class positions.   A great result and all credit must go to the drivers who achieved this for us and Penrite.  As for oil consumption, I was frankly astonished that we didn’t have to add a drop.  The oil was virtually as clean as it was when we put it in the car and there was never any drop in oil pressure.  We were of course using Penrite’s top grade ‘Ten Tenths’ racing oil but all other lubricants were Penrite standard products.
I and the rest of the team are deeply indebted to Penrite for without their support we could never have entered CLM in the first place.  I would also like to acknowledge the support given by Phil Tucker and his company, Tucker EMS.   Phil, in his role as Vice Chair of the TR Register, also  arranged to provide material support in the form of a pit trolley, fireproof overalls and pit boards.  I must also heap praise upon Wayne Scott whose vision and enthusiasm enabled members to view the action at Le Mans from the comfort of their own homes.  I don’t really know how this sort of stuff works so as far as I’m concerned it’s a black art practised by teenagers and therefore a form of magic.  Finally,  I extend my thanks to the drivers and all the other members of the team who pitched in and made it a truly memorable week at la Sarthe. 
Paul Hogan.
For Team Penrite & Michael Cotti Racing.
The final results were as follows

Triumph TR2
Race 1
Race 2
Race 3
Total time

57th on Index



52nd scratch


77 starters
Fastest Lap

Triumph TR3 S
Race 1
Race 2
Race 3
Total time

37th on index


41st  scratch

75 starters
Fastest lap

Triumph TRS
Race 1
Race 2
Race 3
Total time

38th on index


24th scratch


75 starters
Fastest Lap


For more on the Le Mans Classic Triumph Team see TR Action magazine, available free to all members of the TR Register.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Neil Revington shares his thoughts on Le Mans Classic 2014

Neil Revington, driver of the Triumph TRS tribute car alongside Richard Bull has shared his thoughts on the Penrite TR teams entry into Le Mans Classic 2014.
In his account read in more detail about the successes and close shaves that the car encountered during the legendary race at La Sarthe.

Also , in TR Action Magazine, due for release on August 11th 2014 read the full six page spread on the event including accounts from all the team owners.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Le Mans Classic 2014 official highlights video from Peter Auto

Le Mans Classic organisers, Peter Auto have released a round up of the 2014 event featuring a number of appearances from the Penrite and Michael Cotti Racing TR Team.

The video is below, also you can read more about the Penrite TR team in the next edition of TR Action Magazine.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Time for sleep...

I hope you have enjoyed the updates on the Penrite TR teams efforts at Le Mans Classic 2014. It has been immense fun running around like a lunatic taking pictures and filming the event to share this unique atmosphere with you wherever you might be.

The Le Mans Classic has been a phenomenal event this year, not least because we have had a really determined team of Triumph TR's to cheer on and support. All the team have been hugely grateful for your support in reading, commenting on and sharing these updates.

Fear not though, it is not the end for the Le Mans Classic 2014 Live Blog. Over the coming days we will be publishing post race reactions from all those involved with the team, more pictures that we simply didn't have time to get across to you, confirmed final aggregate results, plus of course you can expect a full round-up of the event in its entirety in TR Action Magazine next month.

For now though, I have not slept or even seen my bed for over 36 hours so I shall be heading off for some rest. Covering this event has been manic and hectic at times and certainly full of drama and suspense. Most of all it has been tremendous fun to have been a part of this historic moment when a team of three Triumph TR's took on the Le Mans Classic.

Well done to all involved, to the drivers, assistants and to Penrite Oil as sponsors.

More to follow in due course, now where did I leave my beer......

Wayne Scott
Press Officer, TR Register.

Le Mans Classic 2014: Final race highlight videos

The final races featuring the Penrite TR team have all been completed here at Le Mans Classic 2014 and were arguably the most dramatic of all.
Track conditions varied from torrential rain and deep standing water to dry surfaces then damp and slippy once again.

To give you a final taste of the action, I hope you'll enjoy the highlights videos below of each of the three final roudns to feature the Penrite TR team:

Highlights of the final race for Grid 2 at Le Mans Classic 2014 featuring the Triumph TR2 of Neil Fender and Guy Broad taking on a waterlogged circuit.

The final race of the Le Mans Classic 2014 for Grid 3 included the Triumph TR3S tribute car of Barry Siddery - Smith and John Sykes putting in their last round of the weekend. Filmed at the Ford Chicane.

The final race of the Le Mans Classic 2014 to feature a Triumph TR, Neil Revington and Guy Broad navigated a very damp and slippy track with the Triumph TRS tribute, while others ended up facing the wrong way up the circuit!

Race 3: Grid 4 - the Triumph TRS has a moment!

The final race featuring a Triumph from the Penrite TR team picked up from where Grid 2 left off, with some extremely damp conditions on track.

In a class that included Ford GT40's, Shelby Mustangs and Cobra's and other huge V8 powered machinery the Triumph TRS tribute car relentlessly chipped away at improving the pace throughout the weekend.

The two driver team of Neil Revington and Richard Bull put in solid performances, despit Richard having a major moment at Mulsanne corner half way through the final race of the weekend. He managed to hold on to control, after catching on the sloppy part of the track and loosing traction. But, for a moment all the Triumph fans lining the banks of Mulsanne corner held their breath as he fought to regain composure on this demanding part of the circuit.

Neil Revington in his interview from Saturday night, said that the car felt quicker and that certainly seemed to stack up with what was seen out on track.

The last race finished with the Triumph TRS tribute in 44th overall, 3rd in class.

Race 3 : Grid 3 Triumph TR3S puts fuel leak issue behind it to end the race.

Team boss of Michael Cotti racing who are the man power behind the Penrite Le Mans team this year saw his Triumph TR3S tribute car come home in the hands of John Sykes to conclude their campaign for the 2014 Le Mans Classic.

Following the deluge of rain experienced during the previous race , the track had begun to dry out by the time Grid 3 took to the Circuit de la Sarthe offering much more favourable conditions.

The car appeared from observing trackside to be running strong having overcome its fuel leak issues encountered during the night to give the team a respectable finish for the sat race of their first outing at Le Mans Classic. 33rd overall and 3rd in class.

The final overall scratch times place the Triumph TR3S tribute car 41st overall.

Race 3 : Grid 2 Triumph TR2 battles with the epic rain!

The final race for the Triumph TR2 of Neil Fender and Guy Broad began behind the safety car and for good reason. Moments before the cars were due out on track and in the closing laps of the vintage grid before them, the heavens opened with torrential rain. Track conditions were transformed with deep puddles and standing water forming up on the bends at the Ford Chicane, Arnage and the Dunlop Esses.

Conditions were near impossible for the open top TR2 and it's two drivers but Neil Fender and Guy Broad guided the car home in what was to become a masterclass in car control and precision handling. While the larger Jaguars in this grid struggled with excessive power for the grip available, the little TR2 soldiered on finishing the Le Mans Classic 2014 33rd overall but taking the class win for GTS6.

A magnificent victory given the weather conditions they suffered and the broken halfshaft after the first session on Saturday evening.

Congratulations to both!

The conditions were all the more troublesome for the powerful Jaguar C - Types further up the field.

A tour around the Paddock

The first TR session of daylight hours on Sunday is just over an hour away. A good opportunity for Teams and Drivers to get some well earned rest before the final races of the Le Mans Classic 2014.

Early morning is an ideal opportunity to look around the paddocks at where the cars are stored, fettled and sometimes repaired before getting out on track again:

Not often you see a traffic queue of this caliber either:

TRs from around the campsites

As promised we will update you with TRs spotted around the campsites and circuit throughout the weekend here are a few more caught near Tetre Rouge:

Race 2: Grid 4: Triumph TRS (Neil Revington / Richard Bull) Update

The Triumph TRS tribute has been running strong throughout the Le Mans Classic 2014 and in Race 2 that form continued. Neil Revington piloted for the opening stint and by the time Richard Bull took over at the scheduled driver change, dawn was breaking along the pitlane.

The driver change and pitstop was probably one of the quickest and most efficient we have seen from the Penrite Le Mans team all weekend with the car being held only to satisfy the 60 second stop rule that applies to all competitors.

Race 2 ended with the Triumph TRs tribute running 7th in class and 38th overall.

You can watch the driver change and pitstop on the video below:

In the final stages of Race 2 , the Triumph TRS headed into dawn, looking spectacular at the Ford Chicane: