With the British Endurance championship cancelled at the last minute, (due to circumstances outside the organiser’s control) it was left to the Production cars to star. There were a few changes in the field, the main one being the Tom Howard and Mike Moss BMW M3 had a change of driver. Mike Moss was forced to miss the weekend due to his wife giving birth, so Flick Haigh, who usually races in the endurance championship stepped in. “It’s a great car” she said after qualifying in third overall and on class pole. Things didn’t go so well for the championships other female racer when Nicola Gillat had a big off during qualifying. She wasn’t hurt (other than pride) but the car was too badly damaged to continue the weekend.
With Keith Webster on pole and the Hayes/Radcliffe Intersport BMW M3 alongside the race got underway with the usual rolling start. Keith Webster immediately pulled into a large lead. As part of equalisation measures, he would need to stop for an extra 60 seconds on his pitstop so he knew he not only needed to lead but to lead by a lot!
Behind the usual front running Seat Cupras and BMW M3’s were battling hard. The ING Sport BMW was an early pit visitor after ten minutes with alternator problems. It’d spend most of the afternoon in and out of the pits and despite a huge effort by the team, including pushing it across the finish line in the pits, it’d end the race unclassified. Other cars hitting trouble early on included Harry Cockhill’s Seat, the Adams BMW and the Chris Webster Ginetta. Harry Cockhill managed to make his pitstop for repairs count as his mandatory stop but the other cars all retired with various issues.
Keith Webster did lose his lead at the pitstops but only briefly as by the time the mandatory stops were over he was back in front. Behind at this stage was the Johnson/Robinson Seat Cupra, battling with the Harry Cockhill Seat and behind them Flick Haigh was battling with the Intersport BMW M3.
It started to look like positions were going to remain the same to the end but it started to rain during the final half hour.
This seemed to suit Flick Haigh who was the fastest on track in the damp conditions. It was an impressive performance, given that she had never driven the car before the weekend. The rain got even heavier in the final 15 minutes prompting some teams to opt to change to wets whereas others braved it out on slicks.
Keith Webster was one of the slick runners and it meant he was unchallenged to the flag. The Second placed seat of Mike Robinson was one of the runners opting for wets. It allowed him to lap 15 seconds a lap faster than leader Webster but by now the gap was just too big, he settled for second and first in class two. Harry Cockhill took an excellent third, salvaging a podium from what had looked to be a bad race with his early technical problems was impressive. Flick Haigh was also impressive taking fourth overall and a class podium. She had barely made any errors all weekend, stalling briefly in the pitstop her only mistake.
Andy Thompson and Chris Hayes took class 3 honours in their ex BTCC Seat Toledo after staying on slicks throughout the wet last half hour with class 4 being taken by Robert Taylor and Graham Cox in the Lohen run Mini Cooper JCW.
Although from the outside it appeared that Keith Webster had a pretty easy victory, it wasn’t the case;
“That was tough, that last 20 minutes was torture, every corner was a drama”.
The championship now re joins the MSA British Endurance championship for the big race of the year at Silverstone over the 20th-22nd September. The 24 hours isn’t taking place this year but instead a six hour race will be held. With a grid of over 50 cars expected it should be an excellent event. By Marc Waller