Great America Autocross Report

Text by Kiyoshi Hamai, Photos by David K Ellis, Video by Rahul Nair

The 2010 GGLC Autocross Series came to a close on October 16th at the expansion parking lot of Great America in Santa Clara.

The event closed what was another banner year of GGLC autocrossing that featured 6 points events, a practice event and two 2-day autocross schools. In all there were nearly 500 drivers who took over 5,000 runs and spent over 4,000 minutes on track (nearly 3 days of driving)!

We thank the 2010 GGLC Autocross Series sponsor Boardwalk Lotus, Redwood City, CA for supporting the entire series and providing our trophies and season ending BBQ celebration.

Final Round – October 16th
GGLC AutoCross 10t-15
70 drivers arrived and were confronted with a challenging course that twisted through the lot. Weather was “perfect” fall Bay Area, a bit cool in the morning with a very light breeze mid-day with a few clouds around to temper the sun.

Of the entrants 37 Lotus comprised of 21 Elise and 6 Exige, plus it was designated as “Classic Lotus” day. The classic Lotus were represented by 3 Seven/Seven clones, 3 early Elans, an Esprit and 3 Europas, or maybe we should say 2 Europas and a “Europa” in BIG quotes!

Course set-up took a bit longer than usual since we aren’t as familiar with the site and unlike the Marina site there aren’t any 20’ x 20’ squares in the concrete. But, we were up and ready to run by 8:30 and the first car hit the track right at 9 am.

This was a longish course, with a crossover. Coming from the start box was a very quick left-90 and then a slight right bend and a crest that made a blind entry into a sweeping and dipping right-hander. You then sweeped to the left under power into a sweeping 180 right that was followed by a 4 cone slalom. The trick was to stay well to the inside exiting the 180 to set up for the slalom.

It was back through the crossover and bend to the right with a tight exit as there was a bulge on the left. This was followed by a double right hand corners where you took the first as an early apex, then took an early turn in for the second as the tarmac fell away toward a drain in the lot and the car wanted to drift wide of the apex.

A fairly quick left sweep that led up to the far end of the lot and a 90-left followed by a straight and a box slalom. The final leg was another 4 cone slalom where the 3rd cone was off-set causing you to have to slow.

Raw TTOD went to our own Barry S. in the peusdo Europa with a 42.811. Barry just finished re-assembling and installing his engine the evening before after getting some machining done to cure an oil leak that cropped up 2 weekends earlier.
GGLC AutoCross 10t-183
Barry’s “Europa” may looks sort of like a Europa… the only part that’s still pure Europa are the door skins, roof panel and bit of the rear quarters and engine cover. Underneath is a modified Esprit chassis, custom suspension and a turbocharged 3 rotor Mazda 20B engine with Porsche gearbox.

John Z in the Flamer Europa got down to a 52.2 before running into a driveline problem and Tom C got his Toyota powered S2 Europa to a 56.499.

GGLC AutoCross 10t-21
The Elan drivers were showing their stuff with Royce H in his S3 Elan down to a 53.767 followed by Mel B at a 54.694 (when he could find his way around the course) and Dan W at a 56.083.

GGLC AutoCross 10t-176
The Seven-clones were speedy and competitive with the quickest being Jim R in his WCM Ultralite getting down to a 47.489, Rahul N also in a WCM Ultralite at 47.511 and then Dave H in a Caterham Superlight at 47.840. Great driving from all three to be within 4 tenths of one another!

Andy C took the his Esprit to best 54.796.

And then came the gaggle of Elise and Exige drivers.

GGLC AutoCross 10t-134
Fast time for this group went to Shelly M at a blazing 45.328, showing everyone why Shelly is the reigning 2010 SCCA SoloII Champion.

GGLC AutoCross 10t-51
For stock Elise came Cappy P with a 48.975 and stock with R tires was Alfonso C at 47.634. The quickest Exige was driven by Pascal V with a 47.165 just besting Hiroshi K at 47.913.

The Open Class was topped by Barry’s Europa and 2nd went to Issac A in a EvoX at 46.103.

BBQ and Year-end Awards
As has become the tradition at the final event, we arranged for a catered BBQ lunch complete with tables, chairs and tablecloths! BBQ beef and chicken with potato salad and dessert was prepared on site and year end trophies awarded.

This year the Open Class winner was a repeat champion, Joshua S in his 2006 Evo-IX. 2nd in class was Issac A in his 2008 Evo-X.

In what can only be called an upset the Lotus class Champion went to Shelly M who’s consistent finishes put her a top last year’s champ, Jason S.

We also had a chance to take this fantastic photograph of all the Lotus lined up during the lunch break. Click on the image to see the full resolution version but be warned that it is a very large file (10 MB)

GGLC Autocross 2011
We now get a bit of a breather over the winter. And, within the next couple months the 2011 GGLC Autocross calendar will be announced. It’s likely there will 6 points events with one or two practice events, a autocross school and LOG 31 (Lotus Owners Gathering) in Las Vegas where the GGLC has been asked to host the LOG Autocross. So 2011 will be fun and busy!

Photo Gallery
A huge thanks to Dave Ellis for taking these wonderful pictures and making them available to the club.

Brazilian Grand Prix Preview

Round 18 of the FIA Formula One™ World Championship sees the pack head to Brazil for the only South American leg of the season and one of the sport’s classic venues; Sao Paulo. The punishing end-of-season calendar sees the Brazilian Grand Prix race back to back with the season-ending event in Abu Dhabi, but before heading to the Middle-East Lotus Racing is looking to take another step closer to securing its place as the best of the 2010 new teams at the technical Brazilian circuit.

Heikki Kovalainen: “We had another good result in Korea and we’ll be looking to carry that form through to Brazil and Abu Dhabi. The Sao Paulo circuit is a good challenge. There’s quite a few overtaking points, and a few different lines into some of the corners so you’ll see people attacking each other throughout the whole lap, and particularly at turn one. At the start of the race that corner is pretty critical and there’s always a few guys taking different lines through there. Some go high, some low, but the main thing to think about is that when there are five cars going through there together you’ve just got to do whatever you can to make sure you fit through the gaps and come out unscathed.

“It’s a pretty hardcore end to the season and I’ll make sure I’m properly prepared by resting a bit and then I’ll do enough training to adjust to the time changes, flight times and the races themselves. To be honest, it’s easier for me than it is for many other people in the team. The last couple of races require a massive push from everyone to setup the garages, go racing and then pack up everything and relocate to Abu Dhabi. By the end of the season we will have all earned some time off, but we have to make sure we stay focused on securing tenth place, and for the next couple of races that’s what it’s all about.”

Jarno Trulli: “I’m heading to the USA for a few days to try and acclimatise to the time change, relax and do a bit of training in preparation for the last two races. Brazil is a good circuit to drive on, it’s one of my favourite tracks. I’ve always enjoyed myself there and the atmosphere is great, but it’s not a place where I’ve had a great deal of luck in the races, so hopefully that will change this year. The start is crucial, but if you can get through that without any problems, the rest of the lap is pretty rewarding. There’s none of the long straight / first gear hairpins that you have on quite a few of the modern tracks, so you can get into a good rhythm and really lean on the car into the corners. My best result there was fourth in 2000, and while I know repeating that is obviously unlikely, our goal will be to get both cars across the finish line and go to Abu Dhabi still as the best of the new teams.”

Mike Gascoyne: “Korea was another good result for us and now we are looking to take that performance through to Brazil. We have two races left this year, and while it will be a pretty tough two weeks for the whole team, it is the same for everyone in the pitlane and we have the experience and the determination to make sure we are in the right position to capitalise on whatever opportunities arise on track. It has been very satisfying this season to see that we have taken full advantage of all the races where there have been a high number of incidents, like Japan and Korea, and that is down to good people working effectively on the pitwall, in the garages and in the cars, and we will make sure we do not let that slip in Brazil or Abu Dhabi.”

Tony Fernandes: “I left Korea on an absolute high. It was an amazing race and it was crucial that we took advantage of the high attrition rate to finish as high as we did. Jarno had put in a very strong performance on Friday and Saturday, particularly in qualifying where he put in a great lap to beat Timo, but his run of bad luck struck again in the race and he did not have the chance to show what he could do. Heikki had an eventful race, and performed brilliantly to take 13th place, and performances like that, and from the whole team all weekend, have helped us consolidate our position as best of the new teams throughout the season.

“Unfortunately I will not be in Brazil, but I will be watching every second of the race weekend from home. With Abu Dhabi straight afterwards, and a long journey between the two, it will be a hard couple of weeks for everyone in the team, but they are all determined to keep up their concentration levels and workrate to make sure we finish the season on a high. Throughout the year I have seen what a talented, dedicated team we have in Lotus Racing, and that gives me the confidence to know we are in the best possible position to achieve our goals in 2010, and give us the platform to take a step up next year and in seasons beyond.”

[press release from Lotus Racing]

Korean Grand Prix Review

Heikki battles on track
An historic race in Korea came to an end in the dark with Lotus Racing’s Heikki Kovalainen taking advantage of an incident packed race to finish in 13th place. Team mate Jarno Trulli’s race again came to an early conclusion with hydraulic issues on lap 25, but the team now head to Brazil still at the head of the new teams after some excellent work on and off track all weekend.

Heikki in the spray
Heikki Kovalainen (Chassis T127-03) 13th, fastest lap 1.55.018 – lap 43: “It was another excellent result for the team today. In tricky conditions like that with people making mistakes, we could have seen our tenth position under threat, but we were there at the end and that is what counts. I really enjoyed the race, and didn’t really have any problems that we couldn’t deal with – the team made the right calls throughout and that put us in a strong position at the end of the race. It was obviously pretty dark when we finished, but that was the same for everyone. Now we head to Brazil and we have two more races to secure our place as the best of the new teams this year.”

Jarno in the rain
Jarno Trulli (Chassis T127-02) DNF, fastest lap 2.05.161 – lap 20: “It was a disappointing day but I’m pleased that the team has taken another step towards tenth. I felt that there was a possible hydraulics problem when we were behind the safety car as the power steering was starting to feel very heavy. I really struggled to turn in at the first corner and had a spin, and despite the team trying to get me back out it was all over.”

Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer: “First of all it was great that we could go racing and give all the Korean fans and everyone who has put so much effort into making this race happen the show they wanted to see. They were rewarded with an historic event, with the race finishing in the dark and some excellent action up and down the field. For us it was a day of mixed fortunes – a great finish once again as best of the new teams and Heikki drove a great race in the very tricky conditions, but disappointing for Jarno that he suffered another hydraulic issue that brought his race to an early end. But overall a great weekend for us. We qualified and finished as best of the new teams and maintained our tenth place, which was always our main goal.”

Riad, Din and Tony shelter from the rain
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: “That was extremely tense for me. Of all the 17 races we have had this season, that was by far the most nerve wracking, and I feel like I was put through the ringer throughout the whole afternoon. Today shows the true mettle of this team. Heikki drove a fantastic race, and even though he also had a possible hydraulic issue with about 20 laps to go, he battled through that, and a superb performance from the race team kept him out there to make sure he was on track at the end of the race to take 13th. We are edging ever closer to that tenth place, and even though Jarno suffered more hydraulic problems, we have taken steps to change that for next year, and it is experiences like today that will stand us in good stead for next season and beyond.”

[press release from Lotus Racing]