Drivers: Kevin Riley & Gareth Downing
Team Director: Kieran Reeves
Senior Engineer: Gareth Downing
Engineers: Josh, Dan, Johnny & Ed, Staffordshire University Motorsport Students.
The National Motorsport Academy Team arrived at Silverstone in the evening of Thursday 11th June to unload the transporter & set up what was required for the following day’s testing, the Lotus Evora had been at the Staffordshire University Motorsport workshop for some adjustments and for new endurance brake pads to be fitted. The GT Cup cars had been allocated pit garages, so this time everyone had a break from setting up the awning. After laying the floor in the pit garage the team unloaded the Lotus Evora GTE ex-Le Mans works car, and wheeled out the toolboxes and, of course, the beer fridge! After just a few adjustments everyone was set for the following day’s testing on the long G.P. circuit.
Friday 12th May was a day’s testing on the GP circuit. Unfortunately, the weather was unpredictable and certainly not as forecast! The rain showers caused problems for some cars in the GT test sessions, resulting in a frustrating number of ‘red flags’ which considerably shortened the time of each session. No problems during testing but more driver seat time would have been helpful.
On Saturday 13th the first race day, the heavens opened and it rained continuously all day. This made driving conditions difficult particularly during qualifying – unless you were lucky enough to be out in front. Again, for the longer one hour endurance race for both drivers, the NMA team was delighted that the car qualified first in class, once again. Due to the persistent rain more Pirelli wet race tyres were required, so James brought extra rims with him from the workshop. Driver Kevin Riley took the first stint of the endurance race but after a clean start by all the cars in dreadful wet conditions, a Ferrari spun off the track front of him at Stowe corner, and Kevin’s avoiding manoeuvre caused the Lotus Evora to also spin. He didn’t leave the track but had to wait until all the cars passed before he could re-join the race at the back. Kevin started the job of catching & passing as many cars as possible to try to regain his position and after the mandatory 1 minute pit stop and driver change, Gareth Downing continued on the same mission, finishing 4th in class – just missing a podium but gaining valuable GT Cup Chamionship points; a great effort in such appalling, wet conditions.
Race 2 & 3:
On Sunday, 14th June both drivers were to have one 25 minute race each. The weather was much improved, with no rain during qualifying but the track was damp. After just one lap of qualifying the Lotus Evora mysteriously stopped! The NMA team had to wait for the Lotus to be recovered and returned to the pit lane after the qualifying session had ended. This meant that Kevin, who was driving in the first race, would have to start his race from the back of the grid.
During the race, Kevin was successfully passing cars in his attempt to reach the other GTC group cars in class. He later reported that the car was stuttering and losing power, then it would regain power once again. He was overtaking cars, which would then overtake him! Finally, on the very last lap the car stopped once again. This resulted in the team’s first DNF (did not finish) of the season, with the loss of valuable championship points.
After closer inspection of the Lotus and interrogating the Cosworth data on the laptop, a consensus was reached. The problem was likely to have been caused by the significant G force (1.77G) generated during the two very long, 4th gear, constant radius corners on the GP circuit. The resulting fuel surge had probably caused one of the fuel pumps to fail. The solution: to add 5 litres of additional Sunoco Race Fuel to the quantity calculated for the race.
With the problem now hopefully solved, Gareth also had to start from the back of the grid due to the DNF in the first race. After an amazing start and a determined effort, Gareth managed to overtake so many cars he went into the first corner in 9th position from 23rd on the grid! Fortunately, there was no more ‘stuttering’ from the car and by the end of an exciting race brought the Lotus Evora home 3rd in class – A fantastic drive from Gareth for the elusive podium and much needed championship points.
Because of the long break in between races this time, the team intend to implement further developments to the Lotus Evora and arrange an additional day of testing to evaluate these developments.
We will keep you updated of progress and any test dates on this website.
Thank you to our sponsors
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