Well, the 2021 Championship has come to end for the Army Sports Car Racing Endurance team in the formidable Sunvit-D3 Army Holden. Although we officially debuted the car in 2020, due to COVID and the season being cut very short, the 2021 season really proved to be the development year for us. The Club Enduro Championship is one of the most competitive series under 750 Motor Club, with massive 50+ car grids and heavy budgets, it puts on an impressive show with some expensive machines on track!
The Championship opened at Donington Park in April and we were excited and hopeful for the season ahead. We were looking well with a strong qualifying session and progressed well through the race. With just 8 minutes left on the clock and looking at an easy 5th place finish, the timing chain snapped on the engine. An agonising end to our debut weekend being so close to the finish!
The timing chain failure had caused extensive internal damage to the engine and with less than 6 weeks to the next round, the team had their work cut out. But this is the Army, determined and resolute – the team had the engine apart, back together and tested ready for the next round at Croft in May.
We thought Croft was never going to be a track that suited the heavy Holden being a tight and technical circuit. However, qualifying and the race demonstrated that the car was still competitive. Another top 10 finish was on the cards but unfortunately, drivetrain issues ended another promising weekend. It was the same story at the next round at Snetterton in July. A track where we should have been really strong, as was proven again in qualifying, however, our race was cut short due to a clutch failure.
Onto Silverstone in the heat of August, with all the above issues sorted we were looking forward to racing at this prestigious F1 venue. This high-speed circuit would surely suit the Sunvit-D3 Army Holden?
Qualifying went well, despite the changeable conditions, we put the car 8th on the grid to start the race. Battling from the start, no one could compare to the Holden’s power down Hanger Straight hitting speeds of almost 150mph! We managed to gain 3 places before coming into the pits for the driver change and refuel. The pit crew nailed a flawless pit stop, including a rapid front splitter repair and the car went back out to finish the race. Everyone was anxious to see the car make it to the finish line. With the competition hot on our heels, we managed to hold our position, finally finishing the race with a strong 5th place finish! We were ecstatic to finally prove the car and team’s potential.
Elated from the weekend at Silverstone, we were into the summer break for the season. Not that it meant any rest for us. We continually worked on the car, servicing and refreshing worn parts. We were also invited to showcase the car at the Watergate Bay Sprint in Cornwall where we competed in a time-trial based sprint on public roads! A really cool event and one where the Sunvit-D3 Army Holden certainly received a lot of attention bringing its unique V8 howl (and a little tyre smoke!) to the country roads of Cornwall!
Finally, we found ourselves at Oulton Park for the last round of the championship. We were lucky enough to test at the circuit before the race and our lap times there were looking really competitive. We ran a slightly more aggressive setup on the car and it really worked. Qualifying went well with us starting the race in 10th. Onto the race, the car felt the best it had all season and it really gave the confidence to drive on the limit and fight hard for positions. Some intense battles had us up to 6th place and we were looking well to gain more ahead. Unfortunately, our drivetrain issues hit us again and we had to retire the car. Not how we wanted to end the season, but feeling such confidence in the car up to that point we have come away feeling positive.
Endurance racing is probably the toughest form of motorsport for both, drivers and the cars. Being on the limit for hours on end really takes its toll on the car and components. We’ve learnt the hard way that you really need to build a strong machine and maintain it with meticulous attention to finish these arduous events. The Sunvit-D3 Army Holden has shown such potential this year, it’s given us the taste of success and we are hungry for more! The car has also proven to be one of the most popular cars on the grid, it seems to receive endless attention from spectators and fellow competitors alike, it really is a unique machine and it’s been really great to have such support from everyone – thank you!
And so we look ahead towards the 2022 Championship and have begun planning for success. We must ensure reliability in the car, but also acknowledging that our competitors get faster year on year, we too must also get faster! We have learnt so much this year and through the technical issues, we’ve encountered the car has been developed into a better and stronger machine each time.
We have some big plans for the car during the offseason to achieve the above aim. The main change being in the transmission (gearbox). We will be changing from our old 4 speed Jerico transmission to a far more modern BMW 7 speed dual-clutch transmission. Simulation testing has shown that this change will substantially multiply our torque output and should gain us multiple seconds on the track. Seconds… might not sound like much, but it’s all we need. A gain of a few seconds would have put us on the front row of the grid…
To put it into perspective, larger motorsport teams would spend tens of thousands to gain a second on the track.
We’re already excited for what’s to come in 2022, we intend on contesting for the championship title and will be working hard to achieve that aim. Look forward to the Sunvit-D3 Army Holden offseason updates, as we conduct the upgrades and further develop the car further ready for the 2022 Championship!
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our sponsors and supporters, particularly Sunvit-D3 Vitamins. They have really helped us in so many ways, including through their products and support, as well as putting an eye-catching logo down the side of the car! Thank you.
Sgt Will Ashmore
Army Sports Car Racing Endurance Team