Team 77 - A Misfire?

October 21, 2022  — 

As we look forward to Kyalami, RRL media called Seventy Seven to the press room to get their views on the Crew Chief GT3 Masters VI and their performance so far…

RRL Media:
What were the team’s expectations for the Masters and how were pre-season preparations for Team 77?

Si Fillingham:
Absolutely, as it is one, if not most favourite track to ride on. 2 years ago I enjoyed my 6 and 12-hour race on this track. I haven't been this active in ACC for a long time and every time I come back to this track I find some time. I felt like I was on my limit this time.

As a driver, the expectation of a new championship is always appealing. New series = new hope! The build-up to the Masters was lengthy yet still luring and we (Ralf & I) enjoyed it all, from choosing the car & painting a livery to creating a presentation for Livery Launch Week.

As for what we expected in terms of our performance? Well, after running Intense Racing close in GT3MV we were, of course, hopeful of another charge for some silverware. The Masters was drawing quite the attention and as pre-season developed, there was some notable interest from what we considered 'quick' drivers, who would pose a serious threat to our ambitions. 

Nevertheless, we accepted the challenge and were grateful to be competing in such a revered series and looked forward to once again locking horns with drivers whom we have formed close bonds & friendly rivalries with over the months & years of racing at RRL.

Team 77’s presentation video for S61 CrewChief GT3 Masters VI

RRL  Media:
Is the BMW M4 a big step from the Lexus?

Ralf Arella:
The characteristics of both cars are really quite similar. So far, the main difference is a big step downward in the results and the rear view mirror needs a lot of attention. 

It was time to drive something different and the car felt great until the first fast guys entered the server and you have to squeeze it out like a lemon to get anywhere close.

Arella & Fillingham have struggled to unleash the potential of the M4 shown during pre-season.

RRL Media:
Any particular reasons for being out of top-3, or just bad luck during races?

Si Fillingham:
For me, the server issues at Suzuka that put me in the wall can be considered bad luck. The rest is down to me not delivering the performance I believe I should be. At COTA, ok I got caught up in an incident but had I done better in Q then perhaps I wouldn't have been in the vicinity of the crash. 

Listen, the main reason is the strength of the field. The class of S61 is so strong yet still not so alien. And I'm not talking about the podium positions here or the top 5 or 6 drivers. There are 20-25 guys on the grid that are gonna hustle you and are capable of a top-10 finish. When the competition is that close any mistake you make is magnified which makes the recovery drive much more painful as you know you’ve lost a bunch of points that’ll be almost impossible to claw back. So it’s so important to keep your nose clean on those opening laps so you're not giving up points to the opposition.

It’s not that we aren’t practising or have lost our desire. We communicate daily about racing, work and a whole plethora of subjects and I imagine we have one of the strongest bonds on the grid so it's certainly not a lack of enthusiasm. I guess when we’re both not ‘on it’ then we both suffer.

Contrasting fortunes have hindered the team.

RRL Media:
How does the team cope with fighting mid-field?

Si Fillingham:
Badly, it seems! The Belgian boys aside, who look like they will enjoy their own contest for P1, the fight for P3 in teams is mouth-watering. You can throw a blanket over Crew Chief, Smooth Sailing, URL Motorsports, Seventy Seven & Paradigm Shift at the minute and you can bet your bottom dollar each team will be determined to take that P3, if not better. 

What is evident is that there is 1 driver of these teams doing well, and the other….not achieving potential shall we say. With the greatest of respect of course.

James (CCMCWT), Robert (URL), Jak (PS) & Ralf (77) have delivered solid results and are living up to their reputation of having speed and consistency. Their respective teammates have, for one reason or another, hindered their team’s overall performance in the Masters after posting disappointing results. If either Jim, Miguel, Radek or myself can find our rhythm or just have that bit of luck and deliver the results to back up our teammate then it would bolster our chances of a podium finish in the teams' championship. 

Christian & Marvin are also showing good pace and appear to be finding their feet nicely in the series.

But there are no slouches out there. I've mentioned 5 teams there but in reality, Grizzly, BB, TSR, VSB, Stryve are all competent teams whose drivers can deliver top 10s so it's gonna come down to who’s the best prepared and can handle the pressure of the Masters through the drive-in.

Seventy Seven embroiled in a fascinating battle for P3 in the teams’ championship.

RRL Media:
Expectations for the last few rounds. Any tracks where you fancy your chances to make up some lost ground?

Ralf Arella:
The target is to score good points as a team and enjoy good racing preferably in midfield. Whatever will come on top of that is welcome. Mount Panorama is always a highlight with the best drive-ins both of the drivers are looking forward to. Team 77 is still alive and kicking!

Si Fillingham:
Yeah, you always find a bit extra at Bathurst. When you think you're driving at your limit the place just teases you to try that little bit harder and to take that bit more risk. It’s exhilarating.

I don’t think Imola will be kind to us but with the weather forecast, who knows? And then to finish at Spa. Everyone loves Spa, right? What a place for a finale!

[img] Time for Team 77 to roll up its sleeves.

written by: Simon Fillingham