Tuck puts engine trouble behind him to finish fourth at Brands Hatch

Ben Tuck

Ben Tuck - Credit: Archant

This year’s Caterham Supersport campaign is proving to be an up-and-down one for Ben Tuck.

Although the first four races of 2017 have netted two third-places and a runners-up finish, there has also been a heavy crash resulting in a retirement and engine reliability problems.

And now, in the latest instalment at Brands Hatch at the weekend, Ben suffered more engine woes.

Qualifying saw Ben’s engine gradually fail over the session until he retired with four minutes to go, after banking a lap good enough for only eighth place on the grid.

With only two hours before race one, Ben’s team – PT Sports Cars - pulled out all the stops to install a brand new engine in just 90 minutes, salvaging the chance to fight for a result. In an uncanny repeat of the engine problems Ben suffered at Zolder in 2016, yet another new engine was found wanting and with just minutes to spare he took to the track with an engine that was down on power and that went on to spill hot engine oil on his legs and pedals.

As his pace slowed in the race, Ben had to defend his position fiercely and he lost just one place before the flag to finish in ninth.

Overnight investigations failed to provide a remedy and Ben was resigned to a frustrating half hour of gradually falling back though the field in race two, only for the second race to throw up something a little different.

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At the start Ben succeeded in sticking with the top pack and snatched a place on the first lap and by lap 20 he’d found a way past to move up to seventh place.

Five laps later the battle at the front ended with the leader and the second-place man crashing out at Paddock Hill Bend, resulting in the race being neutralised under Code 60 rules which restrict each driver to maintain position and drive at 60kph whilst the marshals deal with the incident.

This gave Ben a crucial opportunity to take advantage of the restart of full racing and when the green flag was waved during the last lap he timed his move perfectly to skip up to fourth position.

To minimise his power shortfall Ben followed inches from the car in front until the last second before jinking out in a bid for third only to miss the final podium slot by 900ths of a second.

Ben next races at Donington Park at the Caterham Festival on July 8-9.