Too Hot to Handle!
Earth: new tarmac met the competitors and with no previous track data available, set-up and tyre choice would prove critical. Wind: squally conditions proved a test of the teams new home. Fire: both cars suffered very different overheating issues. Water: rain would definitely play its part in the weekend...
41 cars took to the track for qualifying with both the 72 and 73 machines of TWP Racing opting for the dry tyre for the 35 minute session. As the cars assembled a deluge turned the new tarmac into a boating lake but the weather would prove to be the least of the team's woes...
Photo credit: Jon Earp (left) - Richard Timmins (Right)
Mazda Mk3 MX-5 - Car 73:
Drivers Nick & John qualified the car 8th in class with a 1:40.59 lap, mainly due to the car being in the pits at the end of the session as the track dried but both drivers remarked on the increase in mid-range torque, the result of a new exhaust system amongst various upgrades.
Come the race an early Safety Car was utilised to try and undercut the field, sadly for the team the recovery of a stranded car was far quicker than expected and the track went green before the end of the mandatory three-minute stop. Nick would take the saddle and go long for the middle-stint, pushing the car up the timing screen for an hour and forty minutes.
At the two-hour mark the car was running 13th overall, just two seconds behind the third-placed car but lapping 0.3 seconds quicker. A late Safety Car allowed the team to once again try the undercut, successfully this time and the car looked set for a relatively uneventful race/finish.
However fate would deal a blow and with just 20 minutes time remaining John reported a failure of the rear brakes and pitted. The team pushed out an incredibly fast rear pad change but sadly, with such a competitive field, as the seconds ticked by so did the positions.
The car finished 9th in class, 25th overall and 93 laps raced with both drivers and team feeling they left nothing on the track. After the second place finish at the season opener, the meagre points gained at Croft would not offer consolation for the preparation and hard work that had been invested.
Photo credit: Jon Earp (left) - Richard Timmins (Right)
Lotus Elise S2 - Car 72:
The Monition ABAC AIRnet Morson Nankang Tyres S2 Elise had seen considerable investment in terms of both time and money after the disappointing start to the season and testing would prove the car was quick. The challenge was to build reliability into the chassis as well as speed.
A qualifying time of 1:42.81 belied the capability of the car. With Gavin racing at the circuit for the first time the focus was on bringing the car home rather than setting blistering times.
At the mid-qualy stage Gavin brought the car in for the driver change. As the car approached the team's garage it was obvious all was not well with smoke seen coming from the back of the car. As it rolled to a stop flames lapped out from the engine deck, two Marshals immediately jumped in with extinguishers and the fire was soon out but Pip would clearly not be seeing a qualifying opportunity.
With only a couple of hours between qualifying and race the car was hastily stripped and the fault identified:a blown cam seal. The fault was repairable but time was short and as the grid formed the last panel was clipped back into place, a sterling effort by an exhausted team.
Pip would start the race from the pit lane. Within a lap he had made four places, by lap two it was six. He pushed the car and it responded!
Gavin took the helm during a Safety Car period and drove faultlessly for the mid section of the race, slowly creeping up the time sheet until the second compulsory stop. Pip, having been let off the leash started to really push the car with faster times each and every lap. Then, after 71 laps the dreaded radio message that he had pulled the car up having lost power, ironically on the very next lap after his fastest...
So by the end of the race points on the board, 9th in Class, 30th overall but, a glimmer of hope, Pip's fastest lap (1:34.42) was second fastest in class, just 0.3 seconds off the BMW i30 and half a second quicker than the fastest lap set by the eventual class-winning Porsche Boxster. Also the highest place finish of the four Lotus to take the start. The evidence is growing that the chassis has podium potential...
With guests from the car's sponsors attending the race it was not the finish the team had hoped, or worked so hard to for. But that is motor racing.
Photo credit: Charley Wiles (bottom left)
"Really, you should always discuss the defeats because you can learn much more from failure than from success". Niki Lauda 1949-2019
A tough weekend for sure. But we will learn.
As always the team will keep the TWP Racing website and social media channels updated with news of our progression.
Let's end with a positive: The #ClubEnduro drivers, teams and families were able to enjoy watching the 750 Motor Club Alpha Live coverage from the comfort of the team's new hospitality unit supplied by our good friends at The Awning Company. The 84 square metre awning doesn't just bring paddock presence to our small University squad but allows us to develop depth and breadth to the project with new avenues for the Students to explore. We are hugely grateful to Sharron and the team behind the scenes that have helped us progress, together.
Next event: Spa Francorchamps...
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.