Open Wheel — 11 September 2008

Warwickshire racer Sarah Reader and her co-driver Ryan Hooker have claimed a narrow overall lead in the VdeV Endurance Series following another strong result at the Assen circuit in the Netherlands on Sunday (7 Sep).

Stratford-upon-Avon-based Sarah, 25, and Ryan were racing their TFL Racing-prepared Juno SSE-CN sports car in the three-hour Dutch round of the championship. They finished fourth overall after some clever tactical work by their team in predicting the tricky weather conditions.

Reader and Hooker qualified seventh on the grid – the best of the Juno runners – and Sarah took the wheel for the first driving stint, on a dry track threatened by heavy clouds. The rain arrived before the end of Reader’s shift, forcing her and the rest of the field to the pits to switch to rain tyres, but the team made a good stop and no time was lost.

Sarah handed over the TFL Juno and seventh place to Ryan, who then stayed out on wet tyres despite a drying track. “We gambled that there would be more rain,” said TFL team manager Simon Reader, “and there were several nail-biting laps for us as the track continued to dry and those cars which had changed to slick tyres started to gain an advantage. Then the anticipated shower came and we were able to capitalise as other cars were forced back to the pits for wet tyres.”

The weather’s intervention helped secure fifth place for Reader and Hooker, a lap ahead of their nearest rival, and they were promoted to fourth towards the end by the retirement of one of the frontrunners. Their car was the leading Juno finisher.

With only two rounds remaining – at Croft and Silverstone – Reader and Hooker have assumed a slender lead in the championship, but the team is not counting its chickens just yet: “The championship is very tight at the top,” says Simon, “and any one of three teams could win it – there is everything to play for.”

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