‘Blistering’ was the word of the weekend for GWS Motorsport, as the team set a scorching pace at the searingly hot 24H Barcelona, only for sweltering temperatures to impact their race performance.
The 5-strong team of principal Glenn Sherwood, Jamie Stanley, Adam Knight, Adam Balon and new recruit Ben Clucas were on top form at the start of the weekend, steering the Hankook-backed Lotus Evora GT4 to SP3 class pole.
That impressive form continued into race day, with Stanley building a commanding lead over the rest of the SP3 field when he took the first stint of the 24-hour race. In fact, Stanley edged such a gap that he was able to hand over the car to Knight after 95 minutes and the team still emerge in front.
Even in the early part of the race, sweltering conditions were causing problems for several cars on the grid, with many drivers claiming the 24H Barcelona to be the hottest race they have ever contested.
The rising mercury also began to impact GWS Motorsport's Evora. The temperature soared so high in the first few hours that it affected some of the car’s electrical fuses, which led to the fuel pump fuse blowing and the car stopping out on track. While the team was able to repair the problem and get going again, the time it took to be towed back to the garage and sort the issue cost them several laps.
To add to the challenge, the Evora’s fuel pump fuse malfunctioned for a second time not long after it re-started, dropping GWS Motorsport 12 laps off the SP3 class lead.
Undeterred, the team set about bringing this gap down, with Clucas driving a storming first stint to bring the Evora back in touch with the front of the field. He then handed over to Balon, who continued to reel in the other SP3 class cars.
As dusk fell, Stanley took the helm again for his second stint, bringing the Evora back up to 6th, feeling confident that GWS Motorsport could still challenge for a podium.
However, this ambition was not to be, as after eight hours of racing in the burning Barcelona heat, a snapped drive shaft caused considerable damage to the car – most notably punching a hole in the gearbox – which brought the team’s bid for victory to an early close.
“We went to Barcelona with the intention to win and we had the pace to do it, so it’s a shame the heat and its related technical problems got in our way,” concluded Stanley. “We’ve got a lot to be positive about though, in terms of the pace we set in the early part of the weekend and the performance we know we’re capable of achieving.”
“In motorsport you have to take the rough with the smooth, so we’re remaining pragmatic about this weekend’s result,” added Sherwood. “The team did a fantastic job in extreme heat.”
“You never quite know what’s going to happen in a 24-hour race and Barcelona wasn’t our day. I’d like to thank Hankook for their support, and the pace we had in practice and qualifying really gives me confidence about the results we can achieve going forward.”