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elise trophy

Lotus Elise Trophy

Safe, friendly and financially viable race series for Lotus owners

During its inaugural season in 2007 the Elise Trophy became the fastest growing race series in Europe as well as the best supported club series thanks to the large number of Lotus Motorsport Enthusiasts following the action. It’s not just the number of cars or the fantastic support the series receives that makes the Elise Trophy the premier UK race series, the race calendar is one of the best in UK club motorsport: with races at all the major circuits such as Silverstone GP, Brands Hatch GP and Donington Park.

Elise Trophy competitors also have the chance to racing at Europe’s premier circuits such as Spa Francorchamps, Nurburgring and Le Mans as the Production class regulations in Lotus Cup Europe are identical to those of the Elise Trophy. Race days feature a 20 minute qualifying session plus two 20 minute races where the 2nd race grid is reversed from the top ten qualifying positions.

Lotus Cup UK Race Report: Snetterton 300 7/4/2013

Introduction

The new Lotus Cup UK season kicked off at Snetterton, just a few miles down the road from the factory gates, as a bitterly cold April finally began to feel a little more spring-like. The new 300 circuit, with its combination of high speed straights and twisty infield, would stage the opening 90-minute encounter.

LCUK-start-300x200Both champions returned to the field but whilst Supersport’s Steve Train faced an increased field both in overall and the 2-Eleven class, Rob Boston was not expected to contest the full season, having graduated to the BTCC support package as part of the Jason Plato-headed KX Akademy. His Elise Trophy rival Andrew Bentley would be stepping up to V6 power alongside Adrian Lester in his Evora, whilst Lotus Cup Europe pacesetter Jon Walker entered the first Exige V6 to grace the championship. Both the Exige Cup and Open categories were also expanded, the latter with several Honda powered Exiges, whilst guest drivers included 6 Hour winner Michael Lyons teaming up with David Harvey in his 340R and GT racers Benji and Freddie Hetherington.

Practice & Qualifying

Practice suggested a close battle with a second between Lyons/Harvey, Jeff Mileham/Steve Guglielmi’s Honda Exige, Walker in the V6 Cup and Jamie Stanley’s 4-cylinder version.

Two hours later the track had warmed up considerably in the spring sunshine as Rob Fenn and Walker led the rest out onto the circuit. The V6-powered car was immediately fastest but the margin was only tiny when the Mileham/Guglielmi car completed its first flying lap, then Bentley lapped the Evora eight tenths faster.

Stanley then lowered the bar next time around, taking provisional pole by three hundredths of a second in the four cylinder Exige, driven solo this time. Both he and Walker were even quicker next time around, the GWS car now under two minutes and four seconds. However just as Lyons took over the 340R from Harvey, the red flags were out as the Hetherington car was recovered off the circuit.

When hostilities were resumed, Lyons quickly hauled himself into the battle for pole position but only as high as fifth place. Fenn then bagged the fastest time by four tenths, seemingly resolving matters in his favour. With only a couple of attempts left for his rivals, Lyons improved by a place, before stealing the pole by three tenths.

Behind Fenn on row two would be Stanley and Walker, with Lester/Bentley and Mileham/Guglielmi up next. Liz Halliday, Ken Savage, Dave Carr/Mark Fullalove and Marcus Jewell completed the top ten.

In Production, Adam Gore and co-driver Boston would start in 17th place, and class pole, lapping half a second quicker than Andy Napier, with Andrew Wright and Matthias Radestock behind.

After the session, Fenn’s car failed post-qualifying scrutineering, promoting Stanley to the front row and Marcus Jewell to the top ten.

Race

LCUK-Finish-300x200Lyons made a great start and Walker tried to follow him past Stanley, but the latter fought back with a good exit out of Riches. A mistake from the leader in the Esses gave Bentley, fast through the straight, the break to head the race as Lyons and Stanley squabbled over second place. Walker followed behind, with Fullalove, Guglielmi and Halliday keeping an eye on proceedings.

Lyons launched an early attack on the Evora but whilst the lightweight car had the advantage around the corners, V6 grunt kept Bentley ahead on the straights. Lyons tried to pass with a dive at Oggies on lap five but Bentley simply breezed ahead two corners later. However the experienced Lyons kept the pressure on and made a break on lap seven, as Stanley and Walker edged closer.

There was an equally close battle in the 2-Eleven and Production classes. Jewell and Savage passed Halliday, with Train, Chatterway and Deacon also in close attendance, whilst Gore kept a couple of seconds ahead of Bradshaw, Wright and Napier during the early laps.

As Lyons began to edge away from Bentley, Stanley and Walker, Fenn was past Guglielmi for fifth and quickly making up for his back row starting position. His progress was being tracked against the battle for second, as Lyons would have to hand the car to Harvey later on, and needed to build a substantial gap, with Bentley running to a similar brief.

Jewell and Ken Savage were early pitters, sidelined by car issues, so Halliday resumed the class lead, at least until Simon Deacon took the place temporarily. An equally close battle was developing for second place as Fenn continued on with his metronomically quick pace, closing down on his opponents with each passing lap.

Halliday pitted at the halfway mark, by which time Fenn had caught the back of the second place battle. This was Walker’s cue to pit, in need of a clear track to make up time. Fenn pitted at the end of the next lap but Walker had plenty of space ahead of him when he rejoined moments later. Even worse for Fenn, his car would not fire up at the time of asking.

As efforts were being made to bring the Go Green Motorsport Elise back to life, Bentley pitted as Stanley carried on in second place, now 22 seconds adrift of the leader. Fenn finally rejoined the race back in 20th place, whilst Walker’s work had helped him to get the jump on the Evora and in a good position for the finish.

Lyons handed over to Harvey with 29 minutes of the race to go and Stanley followed him in, however he would be staying in the cockpit. He rejoined behind Walker, who now needed to catch Harvey, out in the lead. Walker was nearly ten seconds quicker on his first chasing lap and next time through Oggies, the V6 car took the lead. Stanley was even quicker but needed to catch Walker, having just wrested second from Harvey with 20 minutes remaining and a ten second deficit to make up.

However the gap became academic within moments as the safety car was scrambled to deal with a problem at the Montreal hairpin. Savage was parked up on the exit, with Jewell stranded halfway round in sympathy. Harvey’s 340R then made a late visit to the pitlane, promoting Lester to third in the Evora, whilst Guglielmi/Mileham heading Halliday and the remaining three 2-Elevens.

As the safety car came in, Walker had two backmarkers and four laps to protect his lead. The lapped cars were out of the way by Riches and the gap just a second. But behind, Halliday attacked the Evora for third, losing a place to Deacon in the process as Chatterway also cleared the V6 car, before spinning it all away into the barriers on the next lap.

Meanwhile the leaders were in a race their own, with two seconds to go as they started the final tour. However Stanley slowed at Oggies, ensuring Walker would take the win, with Halliday second and Deacon third. Guglielmi/Mileham took fourth and the Open class win from Bentley/Lester, a consolidatory sixth for Stanley, and BJ Chong/Paul McNeily in seventh.
The Production race was led by Gore until the car retired with engine trouble, suspected to be a broken conrod. This left a charging Napier to take a well-deserved win, finishing ahead of a classified Chatterway and Production class runner-up Jon LaMaster in tenth place, just a few seconds ahead of Wright.

Conclusion

April 7 has always had a special resonance to fans of the Lotus marque, however this time the occasion was one to celebrate, with a debut win for the Exige V6 Cup. Walker wasn’t the fastest man of the event but he was the most consistent and reliable, a winning combination in endurance racing.

LCUK-Podium-300x200As with Donington last year, the additional half hour caught out many teams and drivers, with several late race retirements. The most dramatic was to the challenging Stanley, ironically starting the final lap with just two seconds remaining on the race clock. Harvey too will be ruing his ill fortune, as a podium position was almost certainly within his and Lyons’ grasp. Nevertheless this takes nothing from the fighting performance from the 2-Elevens of Halliday and Deacon, whilst Bentley’s early pace in the Evora and Lester’s efforts to bring the car home yielded a useful finish.

The next Lotus Cup UK race takes place at Silverstone in late April, meanwhile look out for highlights of round one on Motors TV in a few weeks’ time.

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