On Saturday 20th June, we ventured up to Oulton Park in Cheshire for the fourth round of the Lotus Cup UK and Lotus Elise Trophy.
We started off a bit skeptical, as our Elise Cup R is not as well suited to the tight twisty bends and bumpy track in comparison with the other Elise race cars, however the heavens opened and James went out in the wet for qualifying in the Lotus Elise Trophy and placed the car in pole position right at the end of the session, a good 0.7s faster than the car behind. The qualifying for the Lotus Cup UK was followed by much of the same. Damp weather and a wet track meant that all the cars were able to take advantage of their wet tyres, and again this benefitted James, with him able to gain another pole position, however this time he was only 0.1s faster than the next car.
The first race was the Elise Trophy race 1, and with James starting in pole position, we were hoping for a good result. James did not get the greatest of starts, however he fought back and after the first corner was in 2nd place. James held on to 2nd place, and after 3 laps a safety car was deployed after an incident on the track. This allowed James some time to relax after being put under lots of pressure by David Ellesley in the car behind. The safety car stayed out for 3 laps whilst the track was being cleared, leaving enough time left for a one lap sprint to the finish. James didn’t make the most of the restart and allowed the leader to slip away. With David Ellesley still close behind, James was forced to do a lot of defending. He was able to hold off David Ellesley and crossed the line in 2nd.
The first race was closely followed by the Lotus Cup UK race, which lasts a whole hour, and includes a mandatory pitstop. James was joined by professional driver Andrew Bentley, to share the drive. James had a good start, however not as good as Jason Baker, who was able to make the move on James, putting James in 2nd. It stayed like this for the first 3 laps, with James doing faster laps than Jason Baker and putting him under huge amounts of pressure. James then made a move on the fourth lap, and was able to make it stick, putting him back in control of the production class. He then lead the class all the way to the pitstop, where he had a 7s lead to the next car. With a very smooth pitstop done and Andrew Bentley in the car, they continued to lead the production class. Andrew drove with great consistency and was able to hold on to the lead, crossing the line in 1st, 3s ahead of 2nd place Ryan Savage.
After a 2 hour break, James was ready to start the final race of the day. This was the 2nd Elise Trophy race, and with the reverse starting grid, James started from 8th. After a good start, James held on to 8th for the first lap. He then started passing the cars in front and was able to make it up to 6th. Then, on the last lap, James looked to overtake Jason McInulty and was able to pass him and then cross the line in 5th.
A very good weekend that now puts us 1st in the Lotus Cup UK Production Championship and 3rd in the Lotus Elise Trophy Championship after the dropped rounds.
Next race will be at Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, where James and Andrew will be driving in the one hour Lotus Cup UK race, which counts for both Elise Trophy and Cup UK. James will also be taking part in the Lotus Cup Europe races, after passing his medical and upgrading his race licence to an International C, allowing him to compete abroad!