"Through the Barricades"
Let me set the scene, it is 2 days before the third set of GT Cup rounds at Silverstone, it’s raining outside and we have no electronics. Then through the clouds the Sun breaks through just as Gummi from Cosworth arrives at the Central Lotus and National Motorsport Academy Workshops. New electronics in his hand, we set to work to find the gremlin hiding in our vehicle. A few hours later, some wiring repaired and some bypassed the new Sigma control unit and data logger is installed, CAN codes applied and can personality loaded. We had broken through to the other side and everything was finally back to normal. Everything repaired and working as it should, we threw everything into the Truck and set off. Cosworth and especially Gummi have been extremely helpful to ensure we didn’t miss a round and have even loaned us their spare units whilst ours are repaired. A big Thank-you to Neal Bateman and Gummi Gudmundsson.
We set up Thursday evening after a quick celebration...
...and Friday morning I set up the new Calibration files for Gear ratios and gear potentiometer. Gaz was in the car for the day whilst we set it up and he was back to his quick pace quickly with a sly grin returning to his face now he had electronics and gear shifts back. His left leg could finally have a rest instead of using the clutch. Again Richard Chamberlain and Jordan Witt were extremely quick so the top speed differential was huge and with only 3 significant corners on the Silverstone National circuit we couldn’t make up the difference on braking and handling. However we finished Friday with similar times as the Lamborghini and Audi R8.
Kevin started Saturday morning after final getting rid of his flu like systems that have hassled him from Round 1. Kevin quickly got up to speed also and completed the season setting his fastest ever lap around Silverstone in the Lotus. Unfortunately an eye infection put an end to his race day and he decided for safety to sit this one out again. Gas went out for qualifying and unfortunately the track was congested, he struggled to get one clear lap but ended the session with a 56.6 and in 4th position.
Race 1 started badly, a safety car was deployed but in the chaos prior to that we were rear ended by the R8 and the new rear diffuser was broken. We called Gaz in for inspection, made sure nothing was hanging off or would cut a tyre and released him from the pits, he was held at the end of pit lane whilst the Safety car and the train of cars passed, we rejoined last in 22nd place. The best we could now hope for was a P6 in class and a mid-teens overall finish. The safety car came in and Gaz got to work, scything through the field, in the 12 minutes we had left he moved up to 10th overall grabbed 4th in class, a remarkable recovery.
Race 2 was a fairly spread out race, Gareth getting up to 4th from 6th early on, however the R8 again appeared to have Lotus magnets on the car and he made a silly lunge at Becketts. The R8 ran wide and Gaz had a run on him down the straight, as Gaz went to pass the R8 brake checked us at full throttle and Gaz was not impressed having to dive out of the way last minute before with cars ended up in the pit wall. We protested very early that it was dangerous driving at its worst and we immediately put in a complaint, providing all video footage after the race. Whilst avoiding the R8 we lost 5 seconds and so Gaz had to re-group and go again. He was quickly taking 0.7 seconds per lap out of the R8 and catching quickly, he would be able to make a passing move with 2 laps to go at the state. He finally caught the R8 as they both caught the Aston Martin GT4 back marker, the R8 went left and Gaz went right, we had got passed in the braking zone, well at least that is what we thought. You’v guessed it the R8 decided to then turn straight into our door, damaging the side of the car, the rear wheel and the rear bumper. It astounds me how some if these drivers even have a license, never mind keep it. The jolt caused the Lotus to surge on low fuel an the car cut out, Gaz got the car back running within seconds but the checkered flag was out and 5th was where we had to finish.
Gaz just about managed to stay calm in Parc Ferme but explained the error of his ways to the R8 driver with a few choice words thrown in. We left it at that!
Sunday Qualifying went smoothly but with all the damage suffered we had lost a lot of aero. P6 was the best we could get with the old body work back on the car. The endurance race started well, Gaz took P5 on lap 1 and was up to P4 by lap 2, then in his mirror the dreaded R8 came into view (cue the Jaws music). Gas defended for a few laps then came on the radio saying he would let the R8 go as he was losing too much time defending into the corners. Hopefully he could get a drag up the straights to help with our top speed deficit. A master stroke as it turned out, within 2 laps the R8 driver again thought he could brake as late as possible and use other cars to knock him around the corner. He soon took off the Lamborghini right in front of us. Gaz raised his hand as he drove by although I am not entirely sure it was a wave he gave!
We were now in No Mans Land, too far from the front runners but fast enough to stay away from those behind. The Lamborghini had made it out of the gravel trap and was closing fast so Gaz had to keep his foot in and maintain a pace that would allow us to stay in front. Our pitstop was clean and he was back out in front but then the Lamborghini pitted and the professional driver got in. I let Gaz know the situation the the radio and asked him to stay in the high 57 second lap times. Worn tyres and bad aero he replied asking of I was having a laugh…..and then he had his Senna moment, he put in a consistency that was unbelievable given the tyres were worn and the car was far from perfect. He kept the Lamborghini off us and a well deserved 4th was had.
We were relieved the finish the weekend and get away from the fast straights of Silverstone. Rockingham is next and we should have more joy on the tight and twisty infield section.
Kieran Reeves - NMA Director Of Motorsport