BRANDS HATCH - GT Cup Rounds 4, 5 & 6 - 7th & 8th May 2016 13 May 2016

'Here I go Again' 

The eagle eyed readers of our race reports may have noticed that I’m using a 80’s classic songs theme for all titles this year. When I first sat down to produce this week’s report I had to play a game of Eenie Meanie miny moe. This race report could have easily been called 'Living on a Prayer' or 'She Drives me Crazy’. 

NMA Lotus Evora 

The 6th – 8th May was Round 2 at Brands Hatch. The Friday got off to a good start and the car was behaving itself, we were still a few seconds off the Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche but actually much closer than we thought, the new gear ratios were certainly helping out with acceleration. However this was just the Indy circuit for Friday test and the longer GP circuit for Saturday and Sunday may well be our undoing. Friday morning was quite hectic as we were also testing a new potential driver for the Evora to play a role with Gareth when Kevin moves back to his Mosler (engine work in progress).  

Gareth went out and checked all systems were OK and temperatures were up on the gearbox and engine before handing over to Jonathan. The first flying lap saw the Lotus spin out of Clearways and end up beached in the gravel, not the perfect start but these things happen. A dust down and clear out of the kitty litter and Jonathan went back out for Practice 2. This time he settled into the car and found himself only a few seconds off Gareth’s pace, fine work for a 30 minute session and the nagging doubt of that spin on his mind. Additional seat time will help him understand the car and improve his times. A full days test at Donington is scheduled for later in the year. 

Lotus Evora in the gravel

Moving into Friday afternoon and out of the blue during session 3 the dreaded electrical faults re-appeared, this time the concern was with the gearbox shift strategy and the dash not booting up. The ‘No COMMS’ was not the issue this time but the dash would just hang on its loading screen. Across the weekend I would spend the time checking every wire and plug on that car. All that was left was either a faulty replacement Sigma unit or the wiring down by the engine causing the CAN communication to fail, that without a full strip down of the car cannot be accessed, either way it was a monumental case of Deja Vu. 

We made the decision that around this circuit we would more than likely be seventh out of the seven competitors, but rather than lose a lot of points by not competing we would circulate and take whatever points came our way. GT Cup really is a championship of attrition and DNF’s hurt your title hopes in a big way.  

National Motorsport Academy

As it happened the Lamborghini had Gearbox issues and a crash so 3 DNF’s for them whilst the Porsche also suffered a crash in Sunday’s Endurance Race which helped us immensely. The Bentley however once again was unbeatable and left everything in it’s wake picking up three 1st places across the weekend. I battled the electrics whilst Gareth had to battle the heat, and collectively with a great help from the team we picked up 4th place in all three races. Gareth had to use his clutch going up and down the gearbox in all the races losing him an easy second per lap (and a few pounds) but he still managed to bring the car home and moved us from 7th to 3rd in the championship. Playing the delayed pitstop game we even ended up first in the endurance race for a few laps until we stopped ourselves. Aside from a few great overtaking moves from Gareth and a dice with the R8 and Ferrari for a few laps we had a pretty much lonesome weekend, too far from third and pulling away from 5th place, so there is not much to say on that front.  

Rather than reporting on an exciting race and dicing for the lead the thing to take away from this this story is to never admit defeat, against all the odds we still managed to finish each race and due to other competitors mishaps we took a giant step in the standings, much better than we could have ever wished for. With the car fully working on Friday morning if somebody had offered three 5th place finishes across the weekend we would have snatched their hand off. With the electrical issues 3 seventh places was the goal, so 3 fourths is a job well done by everybody involved once again. 

Onwards and upwards to Silverstone!

Kieran Reeves, NMA Director Of Motorsport.