The second Lotus Elise Trophy event of the year saw the teams and drivers head up to Donington Park for the usual Elise Trophy format of two 20 minute races with a reversed top ten second grid. 2015 front runner Jason Baker rejoins the grid here as well as the consistently quick Jason McNulty and a new entry from Hangar 111 in the hands of Mark Richardson.
Following Saturdays Lotus Cup action at Donington park the Sunday morning again saw Lotus action kicking off the day, with the cars taking to a dry but very cold Donington National circuit and it took a while before the times started to tumble down from the mid 1:20’s.
Ultimately it took until the last lap for Alex Ball to head an incredibly tight 20-minute qualifying session, pipping yesterday’s Production class winner Freddie Hetherington to pole by just 0.014s with a best of 1m20.377s. Jason Baker was third, a few further tenths down, with Jason McNulty and Simon Oakley completing the top five.
Sixth went the way of Neil Livesy just ahead of Seth Walpole, David Alexander, Axel van Nederveen- with his problems sorted after yesterday- and Simon McFedries.
The rapid Stuart Ratcliff had his times disallowed for a ride-height issue in post-practice scrutineering, leading to a back of the grid penalty for the opening race of the day. The team decided to go for a pit lane start.
Both front row starters got away well off the line in the first race but Ball (Applecado.co.uk Elise S1) slithered wide at Redgate and opened up a gap for Baker’s Elise S1 to slip through and Baker was not waiting to be asked twice.
Freddie Hetherington started second but didn’t go anywhere when the red lights went out, struggling to get out of first gear off the line and subsequently tumbling down the order. After the race Freddie explained the the car just jumped out of first gear on the grid as the lights changed.
Luckily everyone managed to avoid the stricken S1 Elise and a rapid opening few laps saw him climb back up to seventh by the third lap, which quickly became sixth, fifth and fourth in the next few laps albeit with a solid fight put up by the similarly coloured later generation Elise 111R of Seth Walpole. By lap five he’d passed Simon Oakley for third at Redgate and then set about chasing down Ball.
The gap was reduced quickly, showing the true pace of the EMH Motorsport Elise S1, and finally he dived down the inside of Ball at Redgate on lap 12. Ball closed back in on the final two laps but Hetherington held on, while Baker took a fairly comfortable victory up ahead.
Outside the podium positions, Oakley held fourth in his SO Motorsport & Stratton Quickfit Elise S2 Cup R and Stuart Ratcliff rounded out the top five after a strong recovery drive; the Elise Cup R started from the pit-lane following a ride height infringement in this morning’s qualifying session.
Danny Holland took a best ever result of sixth in the Mission Motorsport Elise 111R after a great battle with Simon McFederies (ES Motorsport Elise 111R) and the AbleCaregroup.com Elise S2 of Jason McNulty.
The Mission Motorsport team are operating exclusively with injured ex servicemen in a car donated by the Championship organisers to the charity run by retired Army Major Jim Cameron – a genuinely worthy cause that is also supported by the Help for Heroes charity and has Sir Stirling Moss as it’s Patron. The car sporting a stunning military camouflage wrap (another service offered by ex soldiers trained through the charity) was exceptionally presented.
The Alfred Fraser Bathrooms Elise S2 of Neil Livesy was ninth and Seth Walpole’s Elise 111R rounded out the top ten finishers despite a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits.
The 11th spot went to David Alexander’s Elise S1, whose race nearly came to an end on the opening lap with a spin and light contact with the barrier heading towards the Craner Curves.
The attractively sponsored ‘Cakes By Appointment’ Friesian cow-liveried Elise S1 of Paul Baker finished 11th ahead of Mark Yates (Active Transport Elise S1) ahead of the www.scangroup.co.uk Elise S2 of Mads Peterson, Axel van Nederveen and Jackie Perkins in the CT Classic GP Elise S1.
Baker doubled up in race two, taking another win to extend his championship lead, but it was hard-fought as he had to fend off a flying Stuart Ratcliff right to the flag. With the top ten from race one reversed, it was Seth Walpole starting up front ahead of McNulty, Livesy, McFederies and Gary Dunning in the Mission Motorsport Elise S2.
The first lap was a frantic one as Baker shot from 10th to the lead thanks to a combination of better pace and dramas around him, including Livesy running wide at Redgate and a few moments at the Roberts chicane. The early- race action also helped Ratcliff through to second, where he began to immediately pressure Baker. Walpole was still third but ran wide exiting Roberts on lap three, compromising his speed down the straight and allowing the charging Hetherington to take the position at Redgate.
Alex Ball was another making rapid progress up the field, and before too long was latched onto Hetherington’s bumper to make the battle for third as close as the lead scrap however, the action was halted on the seventh tour when McFederies spun and beached his ES Motorsport 111R, once again at Roberts but this time the ES guys were spared a repair session as he kept it short of the safety barrier.
The consequent safety car deployed two laps after the incident while a recovery truck got in position set up a restart of just over 3 minutes.
In a similar fashion to the end of the Production battle in Saturday’s Cup UK race, it was remarkably close right until the flag but Baker managed to hold on, just 0.182s ahead of Ratcliff at the line. Hetherington rounded out the podium, just ahead of Ball.
David Alexander was a strong fifth on the road in his Densy Developments Ltd Elise S1, but a 30-second post-race penalty for a safety car restart infringement dropped him all the way down to 13th and it was therefore Walpole who claimed fifth ahead of Livesy (Alfred Fraser Bathrooms Elise S2), Paul Baker in 7th followed by van Nederveen, Mark Yates and Mads Petersen.
Mark Richardson was 11th in his Hangar 111 Elise S1, just a second up on the Yabe Trading Co Elise S2 of Mike Perkins. Gary Dunning was in the Mission Motorsport car for this race and finished 14th ahead of Jackie Perkins.
Simon Oakley’s race was over by lap four when spun and beached in the Redgate gravel trap whilst Jason McNulty was a late pit visitor and wasn’t classified, possibly issues from his scenery visit the previous day.
The Elise Trophy Championship is back at Brands Hatch on 15 May around the Indy circuit for another double header race meeting and Stuart Ratcliff will take a 16-point lead into the third round.