After Calendar Clashes ruled out MPS from attending the first race of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Championship, as we were busy bagging a 2nd place Podium on our debut in the Michelin Le Mans Cup Championship in Barcelona with our Team Parker Racing teammates, MPS director Ben’s first official event with the TPR GTWCEE team came at the Spa 24 Hours Test event.
After some issues for the team at the first event, and no more calendar clashes forecast for the remainder of the season, Ben was asked to step up into the Race Engineer position in the team for the remainder of the Championship, starting at the Spa test.
With limited pre-season testing, due to the late arrival of the new car, MPS took their usual data driven approach to deriving a Base Setup for the team, which had differences to what was tried previously.
With driver confidence rocked slightly at the first event, the team employed the services of Porsche Professional driver Ayhancan Guven for the opening hours of the 2 day test to assist with car development and also to provide good quality data to efficiently allow the team’s own drivers to get up to speed around the 7 km track.
The weather conditions dictated a slow start to the test however, once conditions improved, the Turkish driver quickly showed his class and put in some impressive times on used slicks.
The factory driver was complimentary of the base setup and only requested minor changes to it, which from his own experience, would help him optimise new tyres.
Gifted his first set of new tyres in the new Porsche 992 at the Belgian track, aided by a couple of tweaks to the MPS base setup, Guven quickly rocketed to the top of the timing sheets – which featured over 60 other GT3 spec cars in the notoriously competitive European Championship.
He produced a lap time so good that it would still remain as the fastest Championship entered Porsche and within the Top 3 by the end of the first day and still remain in the Top 5 by the end of the second day.
This quick and efficient proof of the car’s performance allowed MPS and the TPR team to maximise the seat time for the team’s regular drivers, who spent the rest of the test combining MPS’ data driven driver development process and the expert advise from the Turkish Porsche Pro to continuously improve their own driving performance – the stand out of which was young silver graded driver, Kiern Jewiss, getting within 1 second of the factory driver’s blistering lap time at only his first test in a GT3 car at the Belgian track.
Come the race event itself, confidence was high in the team after a strong official test.
Kiern improved on his testing time early on in the practice sessions of the race event, which helped to validate the car setup after the break, and the majority of the remainder of the testing was shared amongst the 3 other drivers (the team welcomed a 4th driver, Xavier Maassen, to its roster for the 24 hour event) to help them build their confidence on the challenging track in the weather affected practice sessions.
Poor weather affected the qualifying sessions too, which gave an advantage to the teams running 4 drivers and who’s pit boxes were located near the exit of the pit lane, but the TPR team still gave a respectable combined performance in qualifying – which once again was highlighted by young Kiern’s competitive performance against the other seasoned Pro’s.
The 24 hour race itself was ultimately negatively affected by a significant number of penalties accrued by the drivers on the track, the 2023 race being hotly monitored by the officials for track limit excursions, and therefore the race result didn’t reflect the potential shown at the official test.
Still, thanks in part to the systems monitoring of the live telemetry data, performed by MPS, the car finished the race without any significant issues, which is a respectable result in any gruelling 24 hour race.
Some impressive stints by Kiern throughout the race demonstrated the race pace potential of the car’s setup and it leaves MPS and the TPR team with feelings of ‘what might of been’ and a definite hunger to come back and take on the notorious endurance race once again.