National Motorsport Academy

2024 GT Cup Round 2 | Brands Hatch Breakdown

A Roundup of the Second Round of the 2024 GT Cup Season

Motorsport can be a cruel, cruel sport!

After an incredible first round at Donington Park, where we came away with four podiums, two wins, and ended up at the top of the GTO standings, Round 2 at Brands Hatch came with high expectations that the Evora would continue to fight for wins!

(You can read our full Round 1 Debrief HERE)

However, at Round 2 at Brands Hatch, we were forced to eat humble pie… Here’s our weekend debrief. 

Joining TeamNMA for the weekend were six talented students from the BSc (Hons) Motorsport Engineering and the MSc Advanced Motorsport Engineering programs: Ben, Tom S, Tom M.B, Marton, Brian, and Duarte – who travelled all the way from Portugal to be here! For most of the students it was their first time working in a race team, so they knew they were going to gain valuable experience from the weekend.

With the Mosler still undergoing a rebuild, the Lotus Evora was run for the weekend. If you haven’t seen it already, here is a breakdown of the specs:

Friday 17th May - Testing Day

Tutor/Race Engineer Ed Sarling arrived at the track the night before to unload the truck, alongside our driver for the season, Jay Shepherd, and a few students to set up the garage ready for Friday – an all-day test session. Coming off the back of that incredible Sunday during Round 1, there was no need to touch the car before Brands – so Friday was just a case of getting the car out and testing it to tweak the setup.

Most of the day went well – the pace of the car was strong, but there was a persistent issue as the car kept overheating. After trying a few things, we found out the issue: a stone had destroyed the radiator in the front of the car. Having no spares with us, we had to get the spare radiator delivered from Nottingham just to have a chance of racing on Saturday. A big thank you to Jay’s daughter, Hannah, for collecting the spare and dropping it off!

Following a delicious team curry, courtesy of ‘The Rajdani’ (it’s less than a mile from the track, and we highly recommend!), the team spent the early hours of the night fitting the new radiator, ready for the first race on Saturday!

National Motorsport Academy racing team preparing the lotus evora
The team looking at the extent of the radiator damage

We also had time to give the car a little…. freshen up with some gold tints added to the car. The new design is based around wanting to emphasise the changes made in the redevelopment of the car, so the gold is on the new front bumper,  flow exits at the wheels and bonnet, then tied in to the original JPS livery and extended over the rear arches. Take a look and let us know what you think!

Saturday 18th April - Race Day 1

Practice and Qualifying

Following a brief practice session, we headed out for qualifying and achieved a 1:30.997. There was plenty more pace in the car, but unfortunately before we could set a proper time, the red flag came out following a crash from a competitor; bringing an end to the session.

The Calm Before the Storm...

Race 1 Report - Sprint Race

Following a lengthy delay to all on-track action due to barrier repairs, the sprint race was cut down from 25 to 20 minutes. Jay started the race from 8th on the grid, and following a promising start, he found himself up to 6th overall and chasing Paul Bailey in the Brabham BT62 for an in-class podium. However, this would be the peak of the weekend as Jay reported issues with the car – the rear splitter was scraping on the track, and we had to pit him to take the splitter off, dropping us to 15th.

Jay started to claw back positions following the stop, but with a minute left, the car ground to a halt and we eventually finished 4th in class. Following the car’s return to the garage, the issue was found: as described by Ed, the drive belt ‘ate itself’. This required another spare to go on, meaning another late night for the students, and with no guarantee there was no further damage. The only way to find out was to install the new belt and see how the car faired on Sunday. As a thank you for their efforts, the students were treated to a meal in GT Cup hospitality before patching up the car again ready for Sunday!

Who likes the added gold?

Sunday 19th May - Race Day 2

Practice and Qualifying

The team worked long into the night installing the new belt. Once completed, we couldn’t find out if there was any further damage as track rules forbid engines being turned on during the night. As soon as practice began, we got the car out, and it ran for three laps before its eventual demise. It turned out belt failure from yesterday had damaged the crank end seal – meaning the engine had to be removed and reinstalled, a job for back in the garage.

The weekend went from bad to worse when the NMA truck suffered a tyre blowout traveling back to the garage. Luckily for us, RS Recovery was on hand to provide us with roadside assistance and then helped get the truck back to Nottingham. We’d like to give a massive thank you to the team at RS Recovery for their swift service and incredible efforts in helping get the truck (and Ed) back safe and sound! 

photo of a flat turn on a truck
The extent of the damage

Overall, it wasn’t the best weekend ever in terms of results, but that’s motorsport! However, our six students left with a LOT more experience as well as a huge amount of confidence, and for us, that is the most important thing!

We’ll be ready to go for Round 3 at Snetterton 300 on the 1st – 2nd June! Keep an eye out on our socials for more!

group of students and tutors at the national motorsport academy
Team NMA | Brands Hatch 2024

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