Easter Gift for TWP
Credit: Jon Earp
The winter months have seen hundreds of man-hours dedicated to the team's two cars: a Mazda Mk3 MX-5 as last year and a new Lotus S2 Elise, the prior developed heavily, the latter a completely new build for the 2019 season. In a departure from the teams signature pink and grey, both cars sport fresh liveries for 2019, completed in-house by the staff and students themselves.
With the ever-popular series increasing exponentially in demand the Championship entry list proved an eye-opening read with many returning pro-teams, all of whom had also spent the winter improving their machines. 53 cars would commit to qualifying with 47 race starters, testament to the popularity of the series.
Credit: Jon Earp (left) - Richard Timmins (right)
Mazda Mk3 MX-5 - Car 73:
With two seasons of development in the MX5 Parts MRF Tyres Mk3 MX-5, the winter has seen some relatively extreme changes. With limited horsepower aero has always been the focus with two student-led projects: a new low-drag / high-downforce rear wing and a flat under-tray feeding a rear diffuser.
Drivers Nick & John qualified the car in a respectable 31st place, third in class, with a 1:52.65 lap, a full three seconds faster than the next-placed MX-5. The team found 1.2 seconds per lap on the test day just by swapping to the new rear wing from last seasons'!
The race would be the first long-run for the car in 2019 and as the temperature continued to rise the new flat floor proved effective. Very effective. Actually too effective and somewhat insulating, in particular trapping ambient heat (and fumes) in the cockpit. The pair did remarkably well to maintain their composure not to mention concentration in the unpleasant environment.
At the 35 minute point a yellow flag saw Nick bring the car in for an early stop, just within the team's programmed pit window. The team turned the car around within the three minute minimum stop window and John took the car to the flag, in the process earning the trophy for second in class (the highest finish for the car to date) with a remarkable 12th overall position.
So, an almost textbook start to the 2019 season but with a rethink of the floor and a continuing battle with the ABS system meaning there'll be no respite in the cars development before the next round...
Credit: Jon Earp (left) - Richard Timmins (right)
Lotus Elise S2 - Car 72:
TWP is all about transparency. So let's get this out there. The MonitionNankang Tyres S2 Elise turned it's crank for the first time just three days before the race and turned a wheel for the first time just the day after!
It's no secret that the build proved challenging with no previous experience on the chassis. Thankfully the team has some very, very good friends (thank you Steve & Nick) and, after a couple of all-nighters the car tested successfully if with zero tolerance for further delay!
However Pip and Gavin got some quality seat time in on the Friday test day and with the moral and technical support of their long time sponsors PDC Racingthe day ended with all quietly confident.
Qualifying proved that - even with every component on the car being new or designed and fabricated in-house - the team had built a strong car with Pip posting a 1:50.57 lap putting the car 22nd on the grid and right in the heart of the group A & B cars.
Gavin would start the race and kept it clean through the first corner wedged three-wide! Sadly, after just three laps he reported a misfire and pitted the car. The team worked fastidiously to identify the fault - initially thought to be an ignition lead and Gavin rejoined the race only to pit a few laps later with the same fault. Eventually the issue was identified: a broken alternator tensioner bolt that had snapped inside the block, no easy mid-race fix, so the alternator was tightened as much as possible and the car sent back out.
With the race effectively over it was decided to run the rest of the session as a test and, with the one remaining bolt holding more all-important laps ticked off before the clutch started slipping above 5000rpm. Given that the slipping clutch meant the car couldn't accelerate quickly the drivers and team collectively decided to pit the car on safety grounds. The car was stripped, inspected, cooled and sent back out (this time with Pip at the helm) for the final couple of laps.
Not the race everyone had worked so tirelessly for but the no72 car was one of 15 to fall on the day.
Credit: Charley Wiles - Events Photography
So, an amazing if mixed start to the TWP 2019 campaign with much to do before Croft.
The Mk3 MX-5 will get some cockpit cooling and brake work whilst the S2 Elise will see a gearbox and clutch transplant, a redesign of the alternator bracket and a new front splitter to aid front end downforce. The biggest positive for the team throughout the weekend was that all the problems are easy fixes and all part of the learning process.
As always the team will keep the TWP Racing website updated with news of the cars progression.
Credit: Jonathan Elsey - Motorsport Photography
2019 Race Calendar:
750 Motor Club TEGIWA Club Enduro Championship
22 April Donington 2hr 02 June Croft 3hr 12/13 July Spa Francorchamps 2 x 100min 11 August Silverstone International 2hr 14 September Oulton Park 2hr 13 October Snetterton 300 2hr 27 October Silverstone GP 2hr
BARC / BRITCAR
22 June Oulton Park 2 x 60min
BARC / Mission Motorsport Race of Remembrance
09/10 November Anglesey 12hr (including night race)
That's 30 hours of racing!!!
TWP: Together, We Progress. In partnership with Wrexham Glyndwr University.