On the 9th of July, JLMotorsport and Hangar111 packed their bags and set off for the circuit of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium.
We started off the race weekend on a hot Friday morning, with the Lotus Cup Europe and Lotus Cup UK practice. With James driving in Cup Europe practice, he managed to set the 2nd fastest production lap, with an extra 45Kg of ballast in the car, preparing for the success ballast he would have to drive with in the Cup UK race after the victory at Oulton Park. Andrew was next to take the car out, as he headed out for the Cup UK practice. Again with 45Kg of ballast Andrew proved that the car was fast, coming out with a 2nd place in the production class.
After a short break, we prepared ourselves for a hectic hour. James headed out for the Cup Europe qualifying first, and after qualifying in 2nd place came in to put on new tyres, fuel up, get ballast on board and most importantly rehydrate himself after a tiring 30 minute stint. We got James back out in the car after 5 minutes and he was straight on the pace, even though he only did a handful of laps he qualified a good 1.5 seconds faster than 2nd place! Not bad with 45Kg extra!
We then had a very short hour to turn the car around and change all the brake disks and pads. With the brakes taking longer than we expected, we eventually hurried James out but he had to start from the pitlane in the first Cup Europe 30 minute race, after not making it to the assembly area in time. James then worked himself through the grid with some excellent overtaking manoeuvres, including passing 5 cars in one corner, and finished in 2nd. An amazing result considering he started 19 places down on where he finished!
After a nice evening out in Spa, we started the Saturday off with the Cup UK one hour race, with the final result also counting for the Elise Trophy championship. After qualifying in 1st, James started the race and built up a comfortable 11 second lead in the first two laps, before the safety car came out. The safety car stayed out for about half the race, meaning that everyone came out into the pits as soon as the window opened. James knew he had to stay out for at least 30 minutes, but with the time provided by the online timing website being incorrect, he came in and pitted a lap too early. We did not know this at the time, so after executing a perfect pitstop and then being held up by cars at the end of the pit lane, Andrew went out still in first place. The safety car then came in and allowed Andrew to set the fastest lap of the race, a good half a second faster than the next fastest in our class. As far as we knew, we finished the race clearly in first with a 20 second lead over 2nd place. Then came the bad news. Since James had pitted too early and not completed half of the race, we were issued a 1 minute penalty, which put us in 6th. Such a shame after dominating the race from start to finish.
After an unfortunate error, we had one more race to go. The 2nd Cup Europe 30 minute race, this time with a standing start. James didn’t get away too well, dropping back to 4th but after the first lap he was back in 2nd where he had qualified. He then started catching the leader and set the fastest lap of the race, but couldn’t quite reach 1st place in time so he ended the race in 2nd place. A very good set of results, unfortunately spoiled by the penalty in the Cup UK race.
The championship table still looks good though, with us sitting at the top of the Cup UK championship and 3rd in the Elise Trophy championship, after the dropped rounds.
Next we head to the biggest race of the year at Brands Hatch in Kent, where the Lotus Festival shall be in full swing!