Britain’s leading female sports car racer, Warwickshire’s Sarah Reader, brought her SPEED EuroSeries championship campaign to a successful conclusion at the weekend (24/25 September), claiming a second-place finish in one of the end-of-season races at the Portuguese circuit of Estoril.
The result equalled TFL Racing driver Reader’s best finish of the year, scored at Silverstone earlier this month, and helped net fourth place overall in the drivers championship for her and her co-driver Darren Burke. TFL Racing claimed second in the teams championship.
Burke and Reader, 28 and from Stratford-upon-Avon, qualified their Juno sports racer in third place on the grid and in Saturday’s opening 90-minute race Burke set a cracking early pace - despite low grip levels due to a track temperature nudging 40 deg C - to move into second spot behind Italian Ivan Bellarosa. After the mid-race hand-over to Reader the TFL Juno extended its advantage over third-placed Giuglielmo Bellotti to go a lap ahead of the Wolf driver. Reader and Burke were 40s behind Bellarosa at the chequered flag.
“That race was really tough,” said Sarah. “The circuit was so slippy, with grip levels changing lap by lap. It was really hot in the car and the brakes were starting to overheat in my stint; all very tricky, but it made the result so much sweeter.”
Sunday’s race brought further success for Reader and Burke, but alas no podium finish due to delays during their pit stop with cost the squad around 20 seconds.
“I came out of the pits in fourth, behind Bellarosa and the WFRs of Jody Firth and Dean Stirling,” said Sarah. “The temperature in the second half of the race shot up again, making conditions difficult, but there was still more grip than the previous day. The brakes were overheating again and I struggled with the tight infield section at Estoril, which has lots of slow tight corners, lots of heavy braking areas.
“We finished fourth, not as good as Saturday, but we’ve had a great weekend and a fantastic season. Given that the car was new for 2011, and I had a new co-driver in Darren, to take four podiums, fourth in the drivers championship and second in the teams is a superb result.”
Sarah hopes to round off her racing year with a couple of non-championship events, a six-hour night race at Magny-Cours in France next month and another six-hour endurance event, back at Estoril, in November.