Attleborough racer working overtime on troublesome Lotus Elan
PUBLISHED: 11:16 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:16 13 March 2019
Attleborough driver Jeremy Clark is facing a race against time to get his championship-winning Lotus Elan ready for the opening Historic Sports Car Club's 70s Roadsports race at Donington Park at the end of the month.
Having sealed the prestigious title at his first attempt, Clark was keen to make improvements to the Elan, which had stood idle for three years prior to the local racer acquiring it in the latter part of 2017.
“It had never been a race winning car,” said Clark who, after just one test session at Snetterton, set off for Donington Park and his first race in the series.
“I qualified fifth but around half distance lost the front brakes which resulted in several high speed spins and retirement.”
The brake issue would remain a part of the car for the rest of the season and prompted a total rebuild in his garage at home this winter.
“I took the very bold decision of removing the body from the chassis only to find it split in many, many places which explains the odd handling,” added Clark.
“I have been working hard with Comp Fabs to repair the chassis and after finding the wiring behind the dash was a total mess decided to rewire. I’m not an electrician but learning fast.”
Additionally, sourcing new suspension parts is proving a challenge and holding up the rebuild as all of the original ones were bent.
“The chassis is just sitting there at present with no wishbones. Once the suspension is attached I can fit the engine and gearbox and try and re-fit the body, which I’m not looking forward to,” admitted Clark, who is unsure if he can fit all of the work in before the opening race at the end of March.
Fortunately, Clark’s long time race-day mechanic, Julian Aley, has journeyed up from London at weekends as the pair race to finish the rebuild and finally put the coveted #1 on the car reserved for the reigning champion.
Sadly, Clark’s home race at Snetterton will not form part of the championship this season with the local racer having bounced back from his brake-induced retirement at Donington with a brace of race wins in 2018.
“Snetterton was a dream with two race wins, pole positions and fastest laps, but the brake issue was still there, the only difference was that I was prepared for the brake pedal to sink to the floor,” Clark said.
The 70s Roadsports series is contested by many different vehicles which are placed in five different classes with Clark contesting the most fiercely-fought, Class C, for Lotus Twin Cam engine cars, but was still able to claim sufficient points to take the overall title.
Mostly the races are won by the Class B cars of which Charles Barter’s Datsun 240Z is the fastest, but Rickinghall racer John Dickson entered his Ferrari 308GTB as a guest entry in the final race of the series, as a prelude to a full campaign this year, which he won at a canter.
“I watched John drive past me and thought, ‘that’s going to be a hard car to beat next year’,” said Clark, who was focused on beating title rival Will Leverett which enabled the local racer to claim the Class C and Overall title when all the points had been added up and confirmed.
“The car had only done one race in the previous 20 years,” said Dickson. “I need to fit different wheels and tyres for it to conform to the 70s Roadsports regulations which could slow it down, so I’m not so sure how I will fare against the regular runners.
“At Silverstone everything went right and after a cautious start I was able to pick off the cars ahead and eventually got past the leading Datsun to take victory.”