The Ultima alliance in Belcar
In 2003 Erick Qvick and Vincent Beernaert of Qvick Motors Racing finished 2nd overall in the touring car class of the Belcar Endurance Racing Championship in Belgium. Erik Qvick's highly modified Mini Cooper was then sold off to a different team, as Qvick wanted to pursue similar success in Belcar's GT class.
Divided between GTB, for cars with engine sizes up to 3600cc, and GTA, for cars with engine sizes bigger than that, the GT field was dominated by well over 20 Porsche 911s and a handful of American brutes in the form of the C5 Corvette and Dodge Viper. Qvick's answer to this German armada and squad of American monsters was the British Ultima GTR.
The original Ultima Mk1 had been introduced back in 1983 by Lee Noble. Ted Marlow became the first ever customer by buying the by then improved Ultima Mk2. Marlow and Noble quickly joined forces to market the Ultima as much as possible and as such turned to the world of motorsport by entering in a local championship. Both men found themselves in a league of their own as the Ultimas were way faster than anything else on track.
When Marlow decided to modify his Ultima Mk2 to fit a Chevrolet V8 he truly unleashed the Ultima's potential. Other customers followed Marlow's V8 philosophy and Ultimas quickly started to dominate every single race they appeared in. Numerous 1-2-3 finishes, championship wins and shattered lap records led to the eventual banishment of all Ultimas in racing.
Ted Marlow eventually bought all of the molds and plans for all Ultima cars from Lee Noble and set up Ultima Sports Ltd. He would go on to develop the Ultima into a giant slayer.
By 2004 The Ultima had evolved into the Ultima GTR and perhaps the best performing kit car in the world. This means that Erick Qvick could choose between a wide range of possible engines. Since Qvick already had lots of experience with BMW engines he decided to use the 3.2L straight six from the E36 M3, putting him in GTB class.
Before any work started on building the car, Qvick motors racing and Belgium Racing set up a joint venture. Erick Qvick would build not one, but two cars for both teams and would receive some financial support in return. Valuable setup changes and other knowledge would be shared between the two teams, creating a unique alliance.
Just ten days before the first race at Zolder, the First GTR of Belgium racing was finished. The overall body shape was left unchanged but anything else apart from the rollcage was custom made by Qvick. The 3.2L engine was tuned up to produce 400hp and 410Nm of torque. More than capable of powering the 910kg chassis.
Last moment reinforcements from the Belgium Racing mechanics made sure the second car was finished in time for the first race. Both teams got a false start when it came to the first practice session, as both engines suffered a catastrophic oil system failure resulting in 2 blown engines. A single spare engine was quickly retrieved from the other side of the country and hastily installed into the Belgium racing Ultima while Qvick had to sit out the first race of the season.
The spare engine was less powerful than the original but in the hands of Patrick Derdaele, Peter Theuws and Christophe Geoffrey it still managed to achieve the fourth fastest time and a seventh place finish in the GTB class.
In the second race both car were well within reach of a podium finish but various mechanical gremlins put a halt to that. Qvick/Geoffrey had to retire with a broken driveshaft while Derdaele/Theuw had a faulty gearbox meaning that they had to nurse the car home in third gear.
In the third race at Spa Francochamps it was the turn of Belgium Racing to retire with a broken driveshaft while Qvick Motors would go on to finish 5th in class despite getting a stop and go penalty. The excursion to the Nurburgring was more of a success as Qvick/Geoffrey finished second in class while Derdaele/Theuw had to settle for sixth. The more finely tuned Ultimas were starting to get faster and faster.
The biggest race of the season, the 24h of Zolder, was a harsh snap back to reality. The metal used in the suspension just wasn't up to the task of competing in a 24 hour race. Both teams parked their cars in the garage and would only re-enter the track in the final hour of the race just to finish dead last.
The second to last race saw both Ultimas racing in the front of the pack. The pace was undoubtedly there as Qvick was hot on the heels of the leading Porsche before getting hit and suffering a broken suspension in the process. Belgium Racing finished last in class despite a strong race. A broken driveshaft was yet again the source of all problems.
The final attempt at glory in Zolder turned into yet another nightmare. When Qvick hopped into the car for his stint he found out the clutch had stopped working together with second gear. Despite this he managed to get back on track but soon retired after the car wouldn't get out of fourth gear anymore. Belgium Racing on the other hand had the main input shaft of their gearbox snap in half.
Despite a season-long curse of drivetrain problems, both teams were still enthusiastic about their cars. When the cars weren't sitting in a closed pitbox they were duking it out with the Porsches in front. Nevertheless both teams would return next season with highly improved versions.