I think it’s fair to say that the First Event of the 2023 British GT Championship didn’t go to plan for Enduro Motorsport & their McLaren Customer Racing 720S GT3 Evo.
However, with some quick thinking and can-do engineering problem solving, MPS and the team bounced back from technical woes to be rewarded with their first podium of the season come race day.
With the late arrival of the Evo spec upgrade kit from McLaren, the Oulton Park race event was the first real chance for the team to get any significant experience with the new spec McLaren, in terms of both reliability and performance metrics.
The initial free practice sessions quickly highlighted an issue with the wheel speed sensing system when operating with the new suspension components and the resulting instantaneous lack of Anti-Lock Braking System when the issue occurred caught the team’s drivers out, causing the car to make contact with the Cheshire circuit’s barriers.
With a tight turn around time before qualifying, MPS’ director Ben Newman, let go of the laptop keys and went back to call upon his ‘hands on’ experience from his previous engine building days, in a heroic ‘all-hands-on-deck’ effort from the entire Enduro Motorsport crew to get the car back out and ready for qualifying.
A temporary fix was implemented to try and better secure the wheel speed trigger rings that were deemed to be the cause of the earlier off track excursions.
With a severe lack of testing with the car in it’s new specification, setup decisions were made to optimise the car’s handling balance from the very limited amount of data collected in the practice sessions and the 5th place qualification position for race 1 was very respectable, given the conditions and the high level of competition.
Come race day, buoyed on by some post quali data analysis and driver development coaching with MPS, Morgan was looking very racey in his opening stint of the race and was gaining on and looking competitive against his rivals in the changeable conditions of the Easter weekend race day.
The opening stint was then hampered by on track incidents and resulting safety car periods – a busy restart from one such period caused Morgan to momentarily leave the circuit and lose ground and places just before the end of his stint.
A sensible strategy call to pull Morgan in early on a track that was now ready for slick tyres saw the Enduro Motorsport crew perform a slick pit stop, the first ever for MPS’ Ben as an active member of the tyre changing crew, and the Team’s Pro driver Marcus used the MPS supplied and calibrated VBox Pit Lane Timer to leave the pit lane without giving way not even a second to the regulated minimum pit stop time and re-joined the race in 6th position.
In what was one of the most exciting ends to a race that MPS had seen in a long long time, Marcus Clutton showed his class and track knowledge as he heroically battled himself into at first a podium contention position and then later for the outright lead as the rains became heavier and heavier as the drivers wrestled the cars around still on slick tyres.
An unfortunately timed piece of traffic with a GT4 car halted Marcus’ assault for the race lead and he and the team settled for a hard fought podium position in the 2023 championship’s opening race.