The former Le Mans 24 Hours competitor and British GT champion was behind the wheel of the Shelby Cobra Coupe during an historic championship race at the weekend, with footage showing him behind the safety car after a mid-race incident.
The least any driver expects is to end up in a drama behind the safety car, but that’s exactly what happened to Lockie when smoke started to fill the cockpit.
Quickly realising that all was not well with the Cobra, Lockie made a decision to race past the Aston Martin safety car and drive as fast as he could to the pit lane, where the circuit’s fire truck was situated. It was smart thinking from the reigning FIA Historic Sportscar champion, but it quickly transpired that he may not even make it to the pits as flames started to spit out of the engine bay behind the driver.
But thanks to his quick thinking, fire marshals were able to put out the flames and save the car from certain destruction, while Lockie himself escaped any injury and was able to continue racing throughout the day.
It was late revealed upon closer inspection that the fire had been started by a tooth in the gearbox sheering off and becoming lodged in the differential’s oil pump, resulting in it overheating and starting a fire that burned through the fuel tank.
“I thought to myself that Donington is hard on brakes, so they’re probably getting a bit hot; I’ll ease off the braking for a minute and see if that helps,” Lockie told the Press Association.
“Because of the speed reduction [behind the safety car], the air flow was much reduced. Very quickly it became a great cloud of smoke, and then suddenly flames appeared about a foot from my right shoulder, and I thought ‘ah’.
“It was a choice of pulling over at a marshals post or making it back to the pits. The marshals do a great job, but the resources at their posts are limited. So, if it’s a persistent fire in a difficult-to-access place, they’re at risk. Parking on grass in that situation is another interesting one, potentially.
“I went by and signalled to the safety car; by the time I got to the final chicane everything had heated up, and there really wasn’t much braking left.”
Thankfully, race organisers commended Lockie’s logical thinking rather than reprimand him for ignoring the safety car, and besides “coughing the next day because I did breathe in some fumes”, he escaped unharmed.
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