Drivers: Kevin Riley & Gareth Downing
Team Director: Kieran Reeves
Senior Engineer: Gareth Downing
Engineers: Staffordshire University Motorsport Students.
The weekend of the 15th and 16th of August saw Rounds 16 and 17 of the GT-Cup shoehorned into the Lotus Festival weekend at Brands Hatch. Due to a change to the MotGP calendar the GT-Cup series had to move to Brands Hatch from Silverstone and as such only 2 rounds would be contested over the weekend.
The tight deadlines meant that Qualifying would occur on Saturday morning with the one sprint race in the afternoon. Lap times from this race would set the grid for the Sunday morning Pit-stop race. The NMA students had worked hard all week ensuring that the Lotus was presented in it’s best possible configuration. The Friday practice sessions saw several new Aerodynamic devices tested and evaluated. A new front splitter was tested alongside new dive planes. The new dive planes were also tested with the old splitter and a new rear diffuser. Finally a compromise of downforce and top speed was found and the Lotus was ready for qualifying.
Kevin Riley was feeling a little under the weather during the weekend so Qualifying was left to Gareth Downing. Within the first few laps the new additions were showing their worth and Gareth put the car on GTC pole by 0.6 of a second and a respectable 4th overall. Unfortunately at the start of the sprint race, gearbox gremlins reared their head and the car gave a false neutral as the lights turned green. Gareth was stranded and was left in 8th place by the first corner recovering to 4th by turn three. The gearbox continued to miss gears throughout the race and eventually Gareth, determined to pick up points, decided to nurse the car home. He let the faster cars through and managed to finish 3rd in class.
The NMA students again worked through the evening to ensure the car was ready for Sunday. On the morning of the pit-stop race Kevin Riley was determined to fight his illness and compete. Unfortunately the bug had taken his strength but to satisfy the rule makers he decided to race for as long as possible. Gareth started the race and as soon as the pit stop window opened he stopped for Kevin to take over. Kevin, ever the fighter, dragged himself into the car and gave his all before passing the car back to Gareth for one last push. The pair overcame the odds and finished 3rd in class once again.
A poorly driver, a broken gearbox but pole position and 2 trophies show what a team we are building here. The students were exceptional once again and not once did defeat get the better of them. Roll on the next round at Donington.
Before that, we are competing with the new look (black and gold) Mosler in the Supercar Challenge once again at Brands Hatch on the 12th and 13th September.