Last weekend’s Britcar 1000km may not have had the closest finish we’ve ever seen with eventual winners Mark Poole and Richard Abra winning by 2 laps in their Barwell run MP Motorsport Aston Martin vantage, but there was plenty of action before then.
The Azteca Mosler had taken pole with the Spaniards, Javier Morcillo and Manuel Cintrano being joined by their former Team mate Paul White for this race. The works Ginetta G55 GT3 of boss Lawrence Tomilinson, Michael Simpson and Nathan Freke had taken second on the grid, with the Barwell Aston in third. Javier Morcillo won a £5000 watch as the driver who had set pole but they weren’t feeling confident going into the race.
Their lack of confidence proved justified as the race got underway with the Works Ginetta taking the lead into copse and then several more of the front runners passed them over the next 10 laps. The works Ginetta was then itself passed by the MP Motorsport Barwell run Aston, which then took off creating a lead which they wouldn’t lose. Disaster then struck for the works Ginetta when it was hit by a slower Lotus it had been lapping. The rear suspension was damaged in the collision and although the damage was repaired in the pits, the long pitstop left them at the back of the field. Any hopes of a come back were then erased when the car eventually retired with engine issues.
Behind them it was now Nigel Mustill’s Riley which had raced in Britcar earlier in the year, driven in the first stint by the quick and experienced Bob Berridge and a new to Britcar machine, the Wolf CN08 prototype, driven by Lars Viljoen in third. Sadly the Wolf wasn’t to last long in the race when it retired just after it’s first pitstop with a wheel bearing and hub failure. This put the Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz Aston Martin Vantage GT3 up to third, they were joined for this race by Suderia Vitorria’s boss Tom Ferrier. Tom, who is usually found on the pitwall running things for the team was enjoying a return to racing.
The races first safety car was then scrambled when a BMW of Simpson Motorsport broke down on the hanger straight. This wasn’t good timing for the Riley who found their pitstop strategy ruined and they dropped to third.
There was near disaster for the Bailey/Schulz/Ferrier Aston, when Paul Bailey crashed at Becketts, causing damage to the front of the car, including crucially damage to the splitter. The damage was repaired as much as was possible during a race but this was the end of their challenge to the leading Aston. By now the Azteca Mosler was back up to third and they saw their chance to try and steal second. Their challenge was helped by a further safety car for the Michael Symons and Keith Webster BMW which had been favourite to win the production element of the race. They had an engine failure and the recovery operation required use of the safety car.
As the final hour approached, The Azteca Mosler seemed certain to claim second from the damaged Scuderia Vitorria Aston but it emerged that the quick Morcillo couldn’t finish the race as he would exceed his maximum driving time and he had to hand over to the slower Cintrano. This not only put them out of contention from taking second but now put them under threat of losing third from the Riley, where Nigel Mustill had handed the car back to Bob Berridge. The Riley was now seven seconds a lap quicker than the Mosler and it looked like it would be close as to who would take the place. On the penultimate lap, the Riley caught up to the back of the Mosler and perhaps the pressure was too much as Cintrano spun. He recovered quickly but would now have to settle for fourth. So with Abra and Poole winning from Bailey and Schulz, the Mustill, Berridge and Evans Riley took the final podium spot with Cintrano, Morcillo and White fourth. The class two winners took fifth overall, the Team Parker racing Porsche 997 cup of Ian Loggie , Chris Jones and Julian Westwood.
The production element was a battle between classes. One contender was the production class 3 Nissan 370Z run for the GT academy winners of Ashley Oldfield and Salman Al Khater. They were joined by former Indy racer Tomas Scheckter, son of former f1 world champion Jody. The other contender was from class 2, the Seat Leon Cupra car of Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson. These two had a race long battle and as other contenders fell by the wayside, this became the production lead fight. It was finally decided when Johnson and Robinson suffered gearbox problems slowing them, although they were still the winning class 2 producton car.
The Gt academy winners were overjoyed to have won.
“It’s our first ever endurance race and so to have our first win is as good as it gets.” Said a smiling Ashley Oldfield on the podium.
Class 1 in the production element was also taken by a Seat Leon, driven by the Cuningham family, Mark and Peter. The final production class win (Class 4) was taken by the Intersport racing Mini of Chris Knox, Duncan Rodgers andDanny Russell.
Sadly the sole female in the race, Christina Nielsen of Denmark, wasn’t classified in the race in her Ferrari 430 shared with Ronnie Bremer after technical problems although they took the flag at the end.
Next year’s race will revert back to a 24 hour format and a contract has been agreed with Silverstone for the next 5 years. Britcar boss James Tucker also announced a revised British endurance championship for 2014 with a new class structure (with the possibility of LMP prototypes entering) and a shorter calendar. Race weekends will consist of two events, with one event being contested by both the production and endurance championship cars. The second will be for the Endurance championship only. The championships will no longer have their own weekends but will join with other championships on the different race weekends.
The next event for 2013 will be at Donington on the 3rd November. By Marc Waller