Bringin’ on the Heartbreak
I write this weeks report with a very heavy heart. It looked like we were in a great position for a 2nd place last weekend. The Bentley is still too dominant so we were very happy with how things looked on Saturday morning. Anyway I am getting ahead of myself too quickly.
The Friday test went well, the Carbon team had worked their socks off since the Donington Aero test on the 14th July and a second iteration of the A pillars had been made. Kevin carried out the whole days testing and the car did not skip a beat all day and by the end of the day we were very happy with the lap times and potential of the car.
Saturday was meant to be Gareth’s day in the car and he would compete in all races. Oulton Park don’t tend to race on a Sunday and so a tight schedule meant that Practice, Qualifying and both short and endurance races all had to be shoe-horned into the days calendar. Gareth hadn’t raced this circuit layout for 20 years and so he needed the day to go as smooth as possible. That’s when the gremlins started. A fire Extinguisher problem during scrutineering meant a quick change before we received our pass to race.
Towards the end of Friday we noticed on the data a drop off of oil pressure. We wouldn’t have time to swap an engine, but after some diagnosis it was determined the oil pump was worn and it was replaced overnight. As we could not run the engine in the evening we had to wait, so at 9 am after scrutineering and our Fire Extinguisher issue we started the car up to warm the gear box and engine. The car’s fail-safe kept cutting in and turning off the engine. A look through the data showed we were only getting 1.8 bar of oil pressure and the engine fail safe cut off threshold is set to 2 bar to prevent engine damage.
The replacement oil pump had been serviced and rebuilt and should have been as new, but with the 10 minute practice session looming ever closer the decision was made to replace the pump again with another and practice would have to be missed which was not ideal for the driver. We instantly had 5 bar pressure at idle as soon as the new pump was fitted and we would make Qualifying.
Oulton Park can catch you out and a run off onto the grass can easily see you in the barrier so Gaz chose to settle in and push for a lap towards the end if there was not much traffic. His 2nd flying lap saw him post a 1.44.53, some 5 seconds faster than Friday’s times. Yeah take it easy Gaz!
Gaz gained more confidence with the car but during the session the steering wheel moved out of alignment and he decided not to push, however with ease he managed a 1.41.21. Disappointed he returned to the pits stating he could go a lot faster but the wheel needs looking at. We informed him that was good for 4th and we called the session. We could definitely do something from 4th on the grid anyway. The steering issue was found to be the steering rack bracket had moved a millimetre or so on its mounting point. New bolts and thread lock was applied and a full set-up was placed on the car ready for the race.
The race started and the Ferrari in P2 was nudged wide by the Lamborghini (in P3) into turn 1. They both ran wide and onto the grass and Gaz sailed up the inside. 'P2 already, that’ll do nicely’ Gaz almost finished the sentence as the Lamborghini turned 90 degrees on the grass came across the track and hit us square in the front subframe. The Evora then hit the armco on the right hand side of the track. The car was badly damaged and couldn’t be rebuilt in time for the 2nd race. Rather than dwell on the subject I will let the video tell the story.
The data showed that Gaz had took a 7G lateral shock and 5G longitudinal force (deceleration) at the same time, at an impact speed of 97mph. The Evora had stood up to the crash quite well, and Gaz apart from a bit of stiffness the next day was fine. The subframe has gone to be repaired and the arms, shocks and miscellaneous pieces we have as spares are already going back on the car. The race against time now is to get the Evora subframe back and the Mosler ready for Donington on the 13th and 14th August.
Kieran Reeves, NMA Director of Motorsport.