Took 2 Esprit's to Brands Hatch for the 1st round of the British GT Championship which features Johnson Motorsport's Esprit V8 driven by Matt Johnson and Robert Ross. Leaving at 7.30am down the A1/M25 to Brands, the roads where quite and the speeds a little high. Passed a red Lotus Elcat at Dartford Tunnel, sped pasted a Ferrari and had a TVR Cerbra follow us on the last stretch.
Parking up in a field (not the best place to take an Esprit), we found a large amount of TVR's and quite a few elises. A couple of Porsche's and Ferrari's brighten things up along side the Jap wannbes. We spotted one other Esprit, a yellow GT3 with a V8-SE wing in the car park with a number plate ending ESP.
Headed for the Paddock to see is we could find the Esprit racing in the GTO class. We soon came across the Johnson Motorsport team after passing loads of Clio's and 911's.
The engine cover wasn't on when we arrived 30 minutes before the GT race began, so I managed to get some good shots of the Esprit before the race. Notice a lot of changes from the standard car, would have found out more about the spec, but everybody was a little bit busy to disturb.
A large GT1 wing and carbon fibre doors looked the business, but according to Matt Johnson the season was going to be difficult up against works TVRs, Ferrari's and Porsche's. Shame Matt can't get any Factory support to help in the fight against the Germany's and Italian's.
The Esprit has it's work cut out this year against some very well financed machines. Ferrari's 360 is works backed, the Lister Storms in the GT class. There's a few TVR's about, the stealth's are looking quick and the Marco's sound very quick. The Saleen looks like the car to beat in the GT class this year (white Scania sponsored car).
The Esprit's final checks were finished and its off to the pit lane to commence battle with the other GT's. The Full list of makes & models entered are: Lotus Esprit, Saleen S7, TVR Tuscan (x3), Porsche 911 GT3 (x2), Ferrari 360 (x2), Marcos Mantara (x2), Marcos Mantis (x2), Morgan Aero, Lister Storm, TVR Cerbera, Stealth B6 and a Chrysler Viper.
The race started well for the Esprit, holding it's place in the field and giving the crowd some great views of flames shooting out from it's exhausts as it turned into the corners. As usual the Esprit was one of the quietist cars of the track, the private Ferrari sounded like it was about to break the sound barrier and the Morgan sounded like it was going to break down (it didn't).
We lost the Stealth and Viper early and the Esprit was soon to follow, 15 minutes into the hour long race, a cloud of smoke started pouring out from the Esprits engine. It limped into the pits. On opening the engine cover, the pit lane was filled with smoke as the engine had caught fire, cause by an oil leak from a loose bolt. The Saleen went on to win easily in the GT class with on other GT car finishing the race. A Tuscan won the GTO class with a Porsche second and the Ferrari 360 third.
Other races on the day included the British Touring Car Championship (sprint and main), F3000, Formula Zetec, Porsche Cup, Renault Clio Championship and the World Sportscars Championship.
The Esprit engine didn't look to bad considering the amount of smoke the was billowing out from it in the pits. They've got two weeks to get it running again before the next round at Donington. There going to have there work cut out, but I'll be supporting them with a bit of Uri Gellar's mental thinking 'Come on V8'.
Got stuck in a massive traffic jam on the way back joining the M25. Took around an hour to travel about 150m to a free flowing M25. Both Esprit's were getting very hot in the traffic, we both of us resorting to turning our engines off the pushing the cars forward as and when the traffic moved. Once on the M25 the road was pretty clear, picked up a subaru impretza on the A1 who was trying to keep up for a while before turning off. Nearly got wiped out on a roundabout just before home, by some old git who had no idea about lanes around the roundabout. Got home safely and with £40 worth of fuel eaten up I was ready for bed.