Successful competition debut for JR Motorsports' Evo X
* Julian Westwood brings JRM's racing Evo X home in top-ten at Brands Hatch Time Attack
* Performance also nets fourth in class
* Team delighted with new car's competitive debut
This weekend's Time Attack at Brands Hatch saw the JR Motorsports prepared Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X make its competition debut, when driver Julian Westwood brought the car home to record an impressive fourth in class - the performance also good enough to secure a position in the top-ten overall times.
Following a number of tests in recent weeks with the car that will form the basis of its forthcoming Evo X Series, JR Motorsports was eager to see how its one-make race-car would perform in a competitive environment. The team viewed Time Attack as an ideal format, as results are based on lap times rather than racing, which means there are not the issues of having to battle head-to-head with other cars on the track.
Adding to the appeal of the event was the opportunity for JRM to measure its 400bhp Evo X against other four-wheel-drive turbo-charged machinery. However, most of the cars in the top-level Pro-Class are built specifically for Time Attack and - in some cases - produce over twice the horsepower!
The hot and dry conditions meant that the more powerful cars could take advantage of grip levels and therefore, the JRM team were counting on the excellent handling characteristics of their car - and Westwood's experience - to compensate. This theory was endorsed as he found himself catching cars in the corners during the morning's warm-up and practice sessions.
Although this was its first time at Brands Hatch, Westwood was impressed with the way the car handled right from the word go. However, that didn't stop the team's engineers changing a few settings to see if a faster time could be achieved, this being the first time the car had been equipped with the championship's controlled Toyo Tires.
The afternoon's qualifying session saw Westwood post times just a fraction of a second outside the top-ten, which was impressive against the hugely more powerful competition. But determined to get the best out of the car for the all-important final, Westwood found a gap in the traffic and lapped nearly a second quicker - the improvement good enough to grasp a top-ten overall time and secure fourth place in the Pro-Class.
"I'm pleased to have been able to score a top-ten for the team", said Westwood. "After catching cars in the corners in the earlier sessions, I was able to get a clear run in the final and put a good lap together. I really enjoyed driving the car. It has excellent track manners and is really well balanced, which is very important for a circuit like Brands Indy."
JRM's Motorsport Director Chris Hodgson was also pleased with the day's outcome: "I'm very satisfied with the way things went today, not just with the result, but with the way the car performed overall. I'm sure that with more time it would have lapped even faster, but we were up against it, competing against cars that - in some cases - produce over 800bhp."
It should be noted that, as a guest driver, Westwood was not classified in the official Time Attack results and therefore does not score championship points.
JRM will continue the test and development programme with its Evo X Series car but, at this stage, its next competitive outing is yet to be confirmed.
Also appearing was the team's Group N Evo X rally car, driven on this occasion by Richard Hill rather than its regular pilot David Bogie. As well as being demonstrated around the track, Hill contested the motorsport gymkhana held in the paddock area, which he won by two seconds.
JR Motorsports' Evo X race programme is supported by: Pirelli tyres, VP fuels, Motec, Exe-tc suspension, Carbonetics clutches and Performance Friction Brakes.