National Motorsport Academy

Student Experiences: Ben Auty – Part 1

Ben Auty - My Experience at the Citroën C1 Championship

Meet NMA student Ben Auty. Ben is 31 years old and currently studying the BSc (Hons) Motorsport Engineering. Ben has really stood out during the past few months; getting involved with a variety of series which has given him a wide breadth of experience. Just a few months ago, Ben was part of Team NMA at Donington Park where he gained some invaluable experience working on the Mosler MT900. You can watch his experience by clicking on the video below. 

A few weeks ago, he attended the BRSCC 2023 Citroen C1 24 HOURS Race Weekend which was hugely exciting. We sent across some stickers for the car and wished him the best of luck. However, Ben was kind enough to write a full weekend report of his experience. 

He wrote so much,  that we’re having to split it up into two separate blogs as we didn’t want to cut any of it out! It’s a fantastic read we hope you enjoy! 

Over to you Ben… 

My Citroën C1 Championship Experience

Last weekend I was invited by Martin Short (Father of Team NMA’s GT Cup Drivers – Morgan and Marcus Short) to assist the Patrick Watts Racing (PWR) team for the C1 24 hour of Silverstone. I jumped at the opportunity to get a 24 hour under my belt, added to that, the chance to learn from a racing legend such as Patrick and to continue working with Morgan and Marcus.

“Hi Ben, if you’re interested the boys are doing the C1 24-hour race at Silverstone this weekend” is how the message came through to me on Wednesday morning.

I’ve found that this seems to be the way the motorsport world works. An opportunity can come from anywhere at anytime and it is up to you to make yourself available to grab them. You never know what you may get from the experience, either way its going to be experience so my attitude is that I have to be there. I think what helps me is I am all chips in for the motorsport world and my family fully support me and the journey I am on.

So, it was off to Silverstone at 5am Friday morning to meet the PWR team and be ready for testing at 8am. I’ve got to be honest, it felt like I had entered a marathon with zero training. The marathon being the 24 hours (plus the long day of testing and prepping the day before) and the training being the lack of hours sleep I had banked. However, adrenaline took over and a job had to be done so I went into race mode and all those worries instantly evaporated.


A Citroen C1 with no engine

Testing consisted of scrubbing all the new sets of tyres. They way that the Nankang’s work for the C1’s is that they perform better the more worn they become. They are a treaded road tyre therefore the closer they become to a slick, the more performance they give. All of our new fronts had been shaved to assist with the bedding in phase. The run plan for testing was 3 laps then pit for a new set, this allowed us to practice tyre changes for the race. We also practiced driver swaps every half hour. My role was seatbelts in the driver swaps and also refuelling.

Throughout testing we would bring the cars in for setup changes based off feedback from the drivers. There is not much you can change with a C1 but there are adjustments that can be made to aid cornering, tyre wear and drivability. With the C1’s being front wheel drive, understeer is the major issue so to compensate, toe out at the rear is added. This allows the car to rotate from the rear rather than scrubbing the front tyres across the track and praying you make it round. 

The compromise is straight line speed because of the rears being “dragged” along the straights, so small adjustments were made to find an acceptable balance. Also, with Silverstone being a clockwise circuit, more toe in on the front left is added to fight against understeer further. The car is almost setup like a rally car in terms of toe because you need to slide the car to get the laptime and the mid-corner rotation.

Tyre pressures are more akin to your BMX down the skatepark… 45psi fronts, 60 psi rears…COLD! I can’t tell you what they were hot, the gauge didn’t go that high.


A reminder of what Silverstone can do to your tyres

PWR had two cars, #506 and #507. Four drivers in each car. #506 had Patrick Watts, Oliver Cottam, Orlando Lindsay and Ed Robinson. #507 had Morgan and Marcus Short, Ludo Glanville and Aimee Watts.

Each driver had to complete at least 3 laps in qualifying and the fastest overall time out of the 4 drivers determined grid position for the race. Unfortunately, #507’s engine resembled something of a boat anchor by qualifying but there was not enough time before quali to change the engine therefore the decision was made that it will be a case of damage limitation and we would have to work our way through come the race. #507 qualified P41. #506 qualified P19. Tomorrows start was going to be interesting with both cars out of position relevant to their pace.

On Saturday morning the team changed out the engine in #507 for one Patrick had purchased and performed a leak-down test on. It was an unknown as to how it would perform but everybody was sure that it would run better than the engine that was used on Friday. Both cars were cleaned, V boxes prepped, fluids checked and bolt checked.

Want to read on? Part 2 coming soon!

2 thoughts on “Student Experiences: Ben Auty – Part 1”

  1. I really enjoyed reading your race days Ben you are certainly very passionate about this subject and it sounds like your in the right place to get the experience you need, We’re looking forward to part 2

  2. An excellent review and a true insight for fellow students to understand the world of motorsport looking forward to reading part two

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