By: RUSSELL ATKINS on October 5, 2006

Sportscar ace Derbyshire drops hint with two top performances

Jamie Derbyshire may be on the lookout for employment for next year, but a brace of superb performances of late will have done his cause no harm at all.

The Warwickshire sportscar ace scored his first point in the 2006 FIA GT Championship at Oscher-sleben in Germany in round three, with a solid eighth-placed finish at the end of three hours of racing.

Following a troubled start to the campaign for the Balfe Motorsport equipe, Jamie was buoyed by the result, particularly as he and driving partner Shaun Balfe had to overcome both sweltering temperatures and an over-heating engine in their seven-litre Saleen S7R to make it to the chequered flag.

“It was hard work,” the 29-year-old said. “The car was good though, and the performance was definitely a step forward compared to where we were at the start of the season. It was just the heat that became too uncomfortable.”

Jamie was pleased with the improvements to the car that had enabled the team to climb up the grid, and although much work remains to be done, he remained encouraged by progress.

“It was a hard race to compete in,” he added, “but it was a point-scoring result, so it’s definitely a positive weekend to come away from.

“We’d hoped to have been a little bit further up the grid in terms of qualifying, but we were unlucky with traffic and checks in the pit-lane.”

Despite splitting with the squad soon afterwards, Jamie’s season did not end there, with a return to the round-the-clock Silverstone 24 Hour race last month, scene of a stunning victory last year.

Confirming his status as one of the pre-event favourites, Jamie – together with team-mates Martin Short and Nick Jacobs who had also been part of the 2005 success – qualified on pole position in a bumper 52-car field.

Although the trio’s luck would not hold out for the full 24 hours this time, denying any hopes of a repeat triumph, the seven-litre Rollcentre Racing Mosler MT900R nevertheless lasted long enough to allow Jamie to show what might have been, and leave a calling card for 2007. After leading the early stages, in the opening hour of the race the car developed a fuel starvation problem, and a pit-stop to try and solve the issue resulted in two hours spent in the garage. Evidently fired-up after such a significant setback, in the early part of Sunday morning – following a prolonged safety car period due to fog across the track – Jamie blitzed the rest of the field by setting a new lap record that would not be beaten.

“Obviously I’m disappointed that we were unable to repeat the win from last year,” he said afterwards. “When the car was running on-song it was unbelievably quick and if we had had the reliability from last year I honestly think we would have won the race again. “It was good to set fastest lap as it proved we had the pace to challenge for the overall lead again and it allowed me to leave my mark on the race this year.

“The car felt good at that time of the morning and I wasn’t in the mood to hang about after the long safety car period, so I just went for it.” Although the team’s fuel starvation woes eventually got the better of them with just two hours left to go, a point had most definitely been made.

Given Jamie Derbyshire is looking for a job for 2007, this was the perfect self-advertisement.