SPA FRANCORCHAMPS - GT Cup Rounds 7 & 8 - 9th - 11th June 2017 15 June 2017

How far are you willing to travel for the love of motorsport? Here at the NMA we’re never put off by a bit of driving, even if it is through the night, on a weekday, with a car that wasn’t supposed to be going.

NMA map from Nottingham to Spa Francorchamps

 

Due to the event being outside of the UK there was even a chance that the weather would be on our side but we wouldn’t know until we got there.

So on the Tuesday prior to the event we all gathered at the Foundation to get acquainted with each other and to help ensure the car was ready and packed. The car was the first big surprise as the intention was to take the Mosler with its freshly rebuilt engine and run that due to the high speed achievable at Spa, would this be an issue for the Evora? With its deficit in power versus the current competitors in our class, we would have to rely on the excellent chassis and aerodynamic systems in place, oh, and those humans behind the wheel!

In total there was a team of 7 NMA students, myself, Kieran, Gareth and we were all kept in check by Kevin and Pauline. The whole team jumped into the truck, bus and pickup and off we went, for a very early 7:38 arrival at the course;

NMA Transporter Spa Francorchamps

As is always the case on long journeys there can be hiccups, and we wondered if this bridge would be our first!

spa nma

No way, plenty of room, although it certainly didn’t look like it while stood there after the journey!

NMA at Spa Francorchamps

 

We set off to the hotel to drop Kevin and Pauline and reward the guys with a well-earned breakfast (all you can eat next to a race track? That’s brave), unfortunately the hotels delivery truck only arrived once we were leaving to take the car into the course, If Carlsberg did race trucks eh;

So now well fed, we set off to get the truck up to the pit garages but there was a track day on so we had a bit of a wait ahead of us and decided to go for a bit of a wander, I’m sure this will be a familiar view;

There were some interesting toys out for the track day and everyone likes a car-collage;

The rowdy bunch above were relatively prompt in leaving the pit garages and so we were able to get in and get the car out of the truck allowing the team to do their pre-race checks that evening and affording themselves an extra 30 minutes or so of sleep the following morning.

NMA Lotus Evora at Spa

NMA Lotus at Spa

It would appear that someone had packed the British weather on the truck though and the first session out saw us donning the wets and getting the usual visual show of aerodynamic forces that we’re used to in the UK;

NMA at Spa

This year the Evora has been on point and put in some excellent times, we hoped with the current aero package that this could continue into the Spa event and initially it did, the car was on pace, and Gareth and Kevin were both happy with the way it was driving, but our luck was about to run out.

An unfortunate kiss of a kerb caused the Evora to lose its front teeth so to speak, and the car had to be recovered and brought back to us at the pits for assessment

What initially looked terminal actually turned out (luckily) to be mainly cosmetic, the front clam was repairable, and we took a spare albeit untested front bumper with us that made the Evora visually whole again, one severed brake pipe repaired and we were back in business, everyone put their all into the task and again we couldn’t be more proud of how the NMA students shone when the chips were down. The car once repaired ended the day like this;

NMA Team photo Spa

Day two and the weather was with us, excellent, we know the Evora can perform in the dry and this was a great way to start the day. Our qualifying position wasn’t the ‘best’ but we were in for a show and a half, the race started and instantly Gaz was like a dog chasing a bone, within a few laps Gaz had blasted his way through the trafficand was back up to speed with our class in no time at all. The car looked great on track and the real world testing of the alternate front bumper gave us good insight into how to develop it further, we even got our picture taken by someone with a much fancier camera than my Iphone;

NMA Lotus at Spa Francorchamps

Overall the trip was a great experience and again the NMA team and students showed just how good things can be when you have a dedicated and experienced team of people, well done to all!

Wayne Gater - NMA Curriculum Leader