Dreams do come true!
Updated: Feb 17, 2019
It's 855km from Wrexham Glyndwr University to the incredible Circuit de Spa Francorchamps but for the Students of Together, We Progress Racing it was just another journey to another race weekend.
Friday and Saturday testing passed without incident, the cars both running strongly with the set-ups seeming to compliment the fast, sweeping Belgian tarmac.
A departure from the usual single two or three hour races, this 750 Motor ClubCARTEK #ClubEnduro event would see two 100 minute races with a Friday quali and race, the Saturday grid position being decided from the Friday result. So a strong race one finish would be key to enabling a half-decent race 2 and for the team there was unfinished business and a score to settle...
Last year's visit to the Circuit had seen the team return across the Channel with two broken cars including a blown engine in the Mk3. Was this year going to be similarly cruel or could the team turn things around?
The races would be shared with the Belgium Gentleman Drivers Club with some incredibly powerful - and fast - TCR cars amongst the eclectic field. Qualifying saw over 70 cars take to the track but sadly for some the 40 minute session was cruel - three cars returning to the pits on recovery trucks and unlikely to see the race start at all, but thankfully for us the three drivers stayed clean and saw the mk1 and mk3 MX5s grid neatly behind one-another mid-field.
Race one WIN!
Come the flag an incredible dream win in Class finishing just 30th overall with a lap in hand against the closing RX-8 of Liam Crilly. Whilst not the first win for the car it is since entering the #ClubEnduro series three years ago and pushes the car further forwards towards that all-important championship final position...
A dream for the drivers too and just rewards for the pair who have stood by the team as it has grown and developed. A surgical example of how to utilise the Safety Car to an advantage, drive clean and provide a tidy pit-stop; the team has worked hard on the stops and now have a minute in hand even allowing time for a little chat with the drivers before the three-minute minimum stop time has elapsed!
Race two proved to be a little more challenging and didn't get off to the best start when the Team Principle was stuck in the tyre queue waiting as the cars were taking their grid positions! So it was that the Mk1 would race on the 'spares', the same tyres that had run three hours at Rockingham the month before!!!
The pair would return to the podium to collect the 3rd in Class title by the end of the race rounding off a successful weekend. --- Car 27: John Munro would pilot the MX-5 Parts Nankang Tyres Mk3 MX-5 as a solo driver for both races and his early pace in testing was evident with a three-minute dead lap of the 7km track.
Race one... John qualified 45th overall with a 3:01:013 lap and as the race unfolded was running 5th overall, dropping to 5th in Class (35th overall) after his stop - and only 50 seconds behind the third placed car which managed to utilise the early Safety Car and gained well-over a minute's advantage.
Fuel strategy was key - with just the one driver the team would be able to throw an early and/or late pit-stop to make best use of a Safety Car period. That chance did come in race one, in only the 18th minute and whilst possible the team elected not to use it on safety grounds; Nick in the Mk1 car had reported over the radio that John's Mk3 was losing fuel - a known problem the team thought it had solved. Gambling on another yellow flag period John stayed out until 20 minutes before the race end but alas, no yellows to exploit.
Race two and an electrical problem saw the car only just make the race at all, starting from the pit lane. However John used every ounce of his formidable race-craft overtaking 42 cars before his first stop at just forty minutes!
So, two races, two cars, two podiums and the teams first - but well deserved - outright Class win in the Championship.
In a twist of fate, the race two finishing positions (at the time of writing) are still to be confirmed; the results suggest that it was actually John Munro in the Mk3 that finished in third position, a lap up on the Mk1.
Whatever the outcome, the reality is this little University team took two cars across Europe. And won.
The halfway point of our season, there will be little time for celebration for the team (to be fair there was 'much' celebrating on the Saturday night!) as it's exactly one month before the team is back in action at Silverstone for round five of the Championship.
As well as some very exciting progressions behind the scenes (including the possibility of a new car for 2019) and continued growth and development in the round, there'll be the usual turn-around mechanical checks and possibly a new engine in the Mk1 before testing in late-July.
For now though, as always, a huge thank you to our awesome sponsors, our two equally awesome tyre providers, the 750 Motor Club and the Marshals of Circuit de Spa Francorchamps for allowing us the opportunity - actually allowing us the privilege - of racing at arguably the most iconic and challenging Circuit in Europe.
2018 Race Calendar:
750 Motor Club CARTEK Club Enduro Championship
18 Mar Donington 2hr 14 Apr Oulton Park 2hr 10 Jun Rockingham 3hr 6/7 Jul Spa Francorchamps 2 x 100min 11 Aug Silverstone International 2hr 8 Sep Anglesey Circuit (cancelled Donington race) 3hr 7 Oct Snetterton 300 2hr
BARC / Mission Motorsport Race of Remembrance
10/11 Nov Anglesey 12hr
That's 29 (and-a-bit) hours of racing!!!
TWP: Together, We Progress. In partnership with Wrexham Glyndwr University.