Drivers: Kevin Riley & Gareth Downing
Team Director: Kieran Reeves
Race Technician: Gareth Downing
Engineers: Josh, Dan, Jacob & Aiden, Staffordshire University Motorsport Students.
The National Motorsport Academy Team arrived at Rockingham on the afternoon of Thursday 21st to unload the transporter, set up the awning and make a few last minute adjustments. This included re-assembling the NMA Lotus Evora bodywork to the car, which had been at the NMA carbon R&D facility in Nottingham, while the Lotus Evora GTE race car had been at Staffordshire University for a session on the Dyno and rolling road.
Friday 22nd May was a day’s testing at the circuit. This circuit was new to Kevin, one of the drivers, and Gareth had only raced here once before. So as well as testing the car’s performance the day provided valuable seat time for the drivers.
On Saturday 23rd the car qualified 1st in Class on the grid, for the longer endurance race for both drivers, with the window for the driver change set between 20 and 30 minutes after the race start. Just before the driver change window was about to open it started to rain, causing problems for all cars as they were racing on Pirelli slick tyres. At the same time a Ferrari left the circuit, hitting the wall, and a safety car was called. Hoping to take advantage of the safety car, the team brought Kevin in for the driver change and mandatory 1 minute pit stop, allowing Gareth to charge up the pit lane to join the Safety car train. Unfortunately, the pit lane light was on red, apparently for no reason, and much to Gareth’s frustration he had to sit there for over 30 seconds, losing the four car advantage we had gained by pitting under the safety car. By the time Gareth was allowed back onto the track he was shown as being a lap behind! A very disappointing result after such a good qualifying position, but the NMA Lotus Evora GTE still finished 4th in GTC class, gaining valuable championship points.
In the two 25 minute sprint races on Sunday 24th Kevin finished 3rd in Class, battling against heavy rain for the last few laps on slick tyres, which slowed his lap times. As the time of the first race affects the grid position for the second, Gareth managed to weave his way through the pack from further down the grid, finishing a very respectable 2nd in class and 3rd overall!
See some of the on-board camera footage of the NMA Lotus Evora GTE races on the GT Cup coverage shown on Motors TV
Next rounds of the GT Cup Championship will be at Silverstone on 13th & 14th June, with testing the day before, Friday 12th June.