JTCars powered Elise wins SNF Finals!
Congratulations to Eugene Lee for winning the Saturday Night Fever RWD Grand Finals 2011! Against all odds, the little 120hp Lotus Elise was able to overcome a barrage of challenges right from the start of the day to emerge victorious in the end; something no one expected even at the eleventh hour.
All was ready for Saturday’s race day at 2pm when the Elise arrived for registration. At 4.30pm the alternator light suddenly came on and decision was made to bring her back to Subang for repairs as there was no support crew at the Sepang circuit.
By the time the car arrived back in the workshop it was already 5.45pm and supplies shops were closing for the weekend. The car was quickly set on the hoist and the boys worked franticly under its belly. By 7pm, Race 1 of SNF had begun while the stricken Elise was still bed-ridden. We were to miss the first heat relegating our position right to the back of the starting grid. By 9pm repairs were complete but we were not sure if we had missed Race 2. Nevertheless we rushed back to Sepang.
As we arrived at the circuit there was good and bad news. We were able to start Race 2 with a few minutes to spare, but the starting grid was now mashed up with multiple categories running simultaneously. They used to run a smaller group one category at a time. The other competitors in our class competed in Race 1 and were able to secure up to 6th on the starting grid while we had to settle for 27th. With only 5 laps, we needed to get pass 21 cars and push the untested Elise to the limit in order to win.
Race 2 started and the field left the Elise for dust. The field was up on power this round and the Lotus felt zoned out, slow and loose. At the end of 5 laps, Eugene was only able to crawl up 7 positions with 1 Final Race remaining. When the car arrived back at the pits, the boys made some last minute adjustments but untested, we did not know it was for better or worse.
Furthermore, the alternator repairs from earlier seemed to hold up but we did not know for how long more it can take the sudden punishment. Being in the middle of the pack also meant a higher risk of accidents into turn 1 as the field would bunch up and throng for position. Previously racing a Honda DC5 cup car, Eugene was hit in the rear while holding 3rd position going into turn 1. The hit spun him out and was immediately out of contention for a podium.
Final race started and it was out of our hands. This time the Elise felt poised and more agile although the straight speed was still weak. Eugene was able to get a good run off the line and moved up a few positions into the first turn. In the midst of all the chaos, cars spinning out, jump starts, crashes and sand trapped, the Elise amazingly emerged out in front and in 1 piece.
Without the passion, ingenuity and determination of our boys fixing the car and our patient suppliers staying open for us, we would have certainly not been able to start the race let alone finish it. A big thank you! Here’s racing for ya!