P4 finish for sickly Renault

Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship

A P4 overall and P2 in class was the hard earned result of the latest 3 hour Britcar Dunlop Endurance race for the NGMSport prepared Holden Autosport Renault RS-01. Gearbox issues hampered the team almost from the start of the race at Donington Park and by the end the car was struggling around with just the first 3 gears available.

A strong qualifying session saw Nick Holden start from P3 but the gearbox gremlins saw him lose two places on the run into Redgate corner but once the race settled down Holden was able to circulate at a comfortable pace in P5. As the race progressed the superior fuel economy of the Renault RS01 started to give the team the edge they needed.

The advantage meant that at the end of the first hour Holden led the race as the cars ahead had to stop for fuel whilst the Renault was able to take the lead and pit 13 laps later than the leading Audi R8.

Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship

Exiting the pitlane and having jumped from fifth to second place and a little over a minute behind the Audi, Andrew McKenna started to charge posting a string of lap times around the 1.32 mark and steadily whittling down the gap from 1 minute 2 seconds to 47.6 seconds over the course of 50 minutes. It was in this stint that the problems started to really manifest with the fast lap times being punctuated with occasional 1.35's as the gear change problems steadily got worse. Less than 2 hours into the race and McKenna was forced to pit as he had lost all but first and second gears.

After a 5 minute stop the Renault was sent back out but was soon struggling around the circuit with just 3 gears and the engine bouncing off the limiter almost all the way around the track. The lap times were now down to 1.38 and the chasing pack were soon passing the sickly Renault but with encouragement from the team McKenna kept the car on the track finally crossing the line in P4 overall and claiming P2 in class.

Speaking after the race Andrew McKenna said, "I had to do a long stint which is a challenge in itself and it wasn't very long into the stint that I started to lose the gears. We were in second when I took over and we were winding in first so I was quietly optimistic."

One thing the car did prove was its resilience having run over a third of the race with only 3 gears.

"I just kept watching the numbers on the dash and the boys kept radioing through how much longer there was to go. Once we were into the last 15 minutes it was fine so I just had to keep an eye on things. I wasn't sure what it would be like running it on the limiter for that long but it's a testament to the strength of the engine, it just sits there and nothing changes."

Despite the disappointment McKenna was full of praise for the car and is looking forward to getting the problems resolved in time for the next round at Thruxton on July 3rd.

"The car is superb and if we can get the gearbox sorted it will be an amazing piece of kit because you can feel the lap times are in the car. When we get a lap with all the gears it's fine and it goes quicker. We were still lapping in the 38's and we know the car can do 31's all day long so it's frustrating to know we are losing time."

Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship

Text and Photography: Jurek Biegus / V12M

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