STAVELOT, Belgium (May 17, 2023) - While the Era Motorsport LMP2 Program was busy at Laguna Seca last weekend, the UK shop had a crazy few days themselves at the Peter Auto Spa Summer Classic.
Competing in four different races with four different cars, the Spa Summer Classic boasted one of the busiest schedules the team has ever been a part of. Kyle Tilley was behind the wheel of all four vehicles, while he was joined by Oliver Bryant in The Greatest’s Trophy races, and Richard Bradley in the Classic Endurance 1 category.
This event marked the debut of the newly rebuilt Era Motorsport Nissan NPT-90 after three years of work in the Indianapolis shop, as well as the return of Era’s Aston Martin DB4 GT Lightweight, Lotus Elite, and Lola T210.
Team owner Kyle Tilley said of the weekend, “This was an incredible effort all around. Not only did we have four cars racing here at Spa, but we had our LMP2 team competing in California, and still more people prepping the Formula 4 car, and two customer vehicles in Indianapolis for next weekend’s SpeedTour at Road America.
“It’s truly incredible to see the team perform so well across so many different events and circumstances at once, I’m unbelievably proud of what we’ve managed to accomplish here.”
Possibly the greatest success on track of the weekend was the result earned by Tilley in the Era Motorsport Lotus Elite in the Fifties Legends race.
The little Elite may not stand a chance at an overall win with its 1200cc four cylinder engine, but with its lightweight fiberglass construction, it managed to qualify pole in the GT1 class.
“The car is a delight to drive,” said Tilley. “It doesn’t need to be super powerful to be enjoyable. It’s a true driver's car when it’s on track, and a well worthwhile experience.”
But the greatest success for the Lotus was yet to come, as on Sunday TIlley drove it to first place in the Index of Performance, a category that balances every entrant based on the car’s capabilities.
“I had no idea we had won!” said Tilley. “I was getting ready to hop in the Lola for the final race of the weekend when I was alerted I’d have a podium celebration.”
“While it wasn’t expected it was well deserved for the team for all the effort that they had put into these cars. A surprise for sure but a very welcome one.”
The Greatest’s Trophy
Era Motorsport’s entry in the Greatest’s Trophy would be the Aston Martin DB4 GT Lightweight. Last time out at the Goodwood Members’ Meeting, the car suffered a hub failure, but thankfully the UK shop put in long hours to ensure the car would be ready to compete this weekend, and their effort paid off.
“The guys in the UK have really outdone themselves with the re-prep on this car. It feels amazing to drive, and it’s in even better shape now than before Goodwood.”
“That’s possibly the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car,” he added after Race 2. “It’s such an amazing experience to take a car like that on a track like Spa, it’s just such a joy to drive.”
The DB4 held its own against the field, often finding itself to be one of the fastest GTS cars on track, and trading times with the other DB4 GT of Wolfgang and Paul Friedrichs.
The team managed top 3’s among other GTS cars in each of the two races the class held over the weekend.
“There’s still more to come, but we’re already really happy with how it drives,” Tilley said. “It’s going to be a real threat by the time we’re done!”
Classic Endurance Racing 1
The Lola T210 was the weapon of choice for this category. Competing in the P-2L class With Tilley and Bradley behind the wheel, the team came out strong in the first practice session with the fastest T210 on track.
Searching for more speed, the Lola went into the garage for a gear ratio switch that ate into their qualifying time a bit, but the Lola still managed a good qualifying position for the final one-hour race.
“That was such a wild one to be a part of,” said Tilley. “Over 60 entries on Spa for one hour, historic prototypes and GT cars together, it’s a glimpse into Endurance racing of years gone by.”
In the final race, the Lola fared well, at times running as high as P2 overall and P1 in class. However Tilley and Bradley were subject to an elite driver penalty which saw them stationary for an additional 2 minutes in pitlane. Tilley left pit lane in P38, and managed to claw his way back to P19 out of the 60 cars that took the start.
Group C Racing
Of course, the main event for Era Motorsport was finally putting the Nissan NPT-90 on track for the first time after three years of work.
“It was quite a sight to see,” said Tilley, “we’re still working on getting it fully dialed in, it’s a bit of a handful right now….”
With a “conservative” tune putting 950 horsepower to the rear wheels, the NPT-90 was by far the most powerful Era brought to the track with them.
“It’s terrifying in the best way,” said Tilley. “It’s so raw and aggressive, it’s unlike anything else.”
While it was an exciting debut for the Nissan, weather did play a part unfortunately. The car performed well on track, but with a lack of experience in the car and a goal of Classic Le Mans, the team decided not to run the car in the wet to avoid risking anything happening.
“Obviously more track time would be better, but we don’t want to do anything stupid, so we decided to play it a bit safe when it came to the weather.
“Still though, the car was awesome and I can’t wait to be back for Dijon."