BRANDS HATCH - GT Cup Rounds 4, 5 & 6 - 20th & 21st May 2017 25 May 2017

BRANDS HATCH  - GT Cup Rounds 4, 5 & 6 - 20th & 21st May 2017

Brands Hatch GP is an amazing track and an excellent track for viewing the excitement, The testing for the weekend was on Friday and as always would be an early start, so being proactive we decided to arrive Thursday evening and get our awning and the Evora set up the night before, I’d never seen a land based water fall prior to getting to the lower paddock that Thursday evening, but what fun would it be putting an awning up if the sun was shining? There were some occasions across the weekend where we were able to take advantage of the sunshine though!

National Motorsport Academy Lotus

The day began with a shakedown for the Evora. We were happy with the aero package from the previous round and were confident that the setup would cope well with the track layout. Gareth and Kevin were on point and ready for the weekend ahead, the weather was still mixed, but that didn’t stop them putting the car through its paces, giving us a nice display of how the aero package was working;

National Motorsport Academy Lotus Evora

Overall though, the weather was on our side and the car was able to go out without drama and make some good times allowing us to get ourselves prepared for the racing ahead. We finished the day with a good idea of the time required for holding the car in the timed pit stop window of the Sunday event. Not much else to report from practice other than an unfortunate Go Pro to Laptop impact which meant we had to run a data logging station (full TV and table setup – good thinking Dan) for the weekend. Accidents can happen, luckily we had the ability to adapt, well done team!

NMA Lotus NMA Lotus

This race weekend was quite different because Kieran the team manager, was unable to attend due to other commitments and therefore his usual duties were delegated out to the NMA students under the watchful eyes of myself, Gareth and Kevin to ensure everything ran smoothly. I have to say I was massively impressed with how all of the students stepped up to the plate and proved their worth, not once did we have to ask anyone what they were up to or what they intended to do next, their operation resembled that of a finely tuned machine, well done lads!

So with a successful day of practise behind us, the car was parked up and the team got a well-earned rest after the previous night’s late arrival and setup, we weren’t badly positioned to be fair, taking in the music and atmosphere of the GT Cup tent being ‘just over the road’;

National Motorsport Academy, Brands Hatch

 

Race day 1 and we were out early raring to go;

Gareth Downing NMA Lotus

Really early actually;

 

Although as is often the case here in the UK, the weather couldn’t really make its mind up and we were on tenterhooks waiting to see whether we were going to need to change to wets before the race, this progressed throughout the weekend actually, beautifully beaming sunshine up to the race, then some light showers, then back to sunshine, a very hard event to predict.

Luck wasn’t with the event for Saturdays qualifying with rain breaking its way through the clouds, but this did give us time to spot an issue with the car effectively leaving us with 85% throttle, a quick pit stop to look at the data and a few subtle tweaks got everything back on track, boom boom.

Race one wasn’t without incident for some though, but luckily we weren’t in the area when paint was traded although the safety car did make an appearance at one point to clear some wreckages. Luckily, aside from a small off of our own, we avoided any real catastrophe and the Evora and Gareth put in a fastest lap to date with the latest aero setup on the car, well done Gareth!

So with an eventful day of racing behind us and the car all prepped, gleaming and ready for the Sunday round, we took the team to a local restaurant for some well-deserved down time.

 

Hunger had certainly struck by the time we put the car to bed, and as always the local Indian restaurant did not disappoint!

Sunday began with a little bit of photography for one of our sponsors specifically, although it’s never a chore taking photos of the Evora, or any of the other cars in the paddock at GT Cup.

An interesting rumour had circulated earlier in the year of an S2000 (with an LS9 fitted) being in attendance for the GT Cup line up and it proved to be true at Brands, although it didn’t race on this occasion, nor did it break cover at all on this occasion for a photo to be captured (boo!). that will certainly be a car to watch out for in later rounds though!

  

The final race started out well for us and the Evora was on top form, and with a pit stop which was nigh on to the second, we saw ourselves in the running for second in class!

The pit stop had done us a big favour because the other vehicle in question for second place had a much longer pit than us, leaving us with a lead that should have been sustainable even with a faster car chasing us down. It looked like we were set for a great end to the weekend only for traffic to cause Gareth to go off his typical line on the final lap, this wouldn’t have been a problem given the time gap between us and third place except that on the second half of the final lap, the car is running low on fuel and it would appear that evasive action for the sake of incident avoidance caused the Evora to cut out, oh no!!

The ECU on the Evora is set to activate pit limiter at first fire up which meant that even though Gaz got the car running as quick as possible, the limit of speed took a big chunk off our lead, so much so that by the finish line the car on our heels had caught us and unfortunately snuck past in all the drama.

A third place finish was by no means a bad result considering the car came back in one piece though and Gareth got to collect another cup and cap for his efforts.

Overall a great weekend for Team NMA and the Evora GTE, only one thing remains unanswered though, could we justify one of these funky looking EVs as our race buggy?

 

Wayne Gater - NMA Curriculum Leader of Motorsport