Britcar Endurance Silverstone race report
The 2021 Goodyear Britcar Endurance championship made its second stop at Silverstone over the past weekend. The teams and drivers facing a tough challenge with a 2-hour enduro rather than the two 1-hour races that would normally feature.
As with Oulton Park last time out, it was Praga domination at Silverstone with the top eight positions occupied by the Czech brand. Richard Wells and Alex Kapadia took pole position by over one-second from debutant Ash Dibden who took over the #333 Praga from Abbie Eaton – away racing in W Series – to partner Gordie Mutch.
Wells would lead away at the start but Dibden managed to find a way past just fifteen minutes into the two-hour enduro. And this was despite the fact that the weather decided to wreak havoc by unleashing an intense downpour.
He, along with Jimmy Broadbent and Jay Morton, would pit for wets which turned out to be the wrong decision after the shower only lasted for a couple of minutes.
Wells in the meantime spun coming out of Farm corner from P2 and dropped back to sixth overall and sixth in the Praga category.
Miles Lacey in the Frank Stephenson-liveried Praga braved the conditions on slicks and ended the pit window 28-seconds clear of his nearest competitor. But not for long, as the car dropped back when James Walker took over due to gear shifting issues which later turned into retirement.
Charlie Martin had also braved it out on slicks and handed over to a fired-up Jack Fabby who already had an incident earlier in the weekend with a Ferrari unexpectedly slowing. He would emerge in the lead after the pitstop cycle filtered through and would lead all the way to the flag.
Not without trouble though. Tow issues and a large vibration meant Fabby had to nurse the car to the flag and with Chris Wesemael in the CW Performance Praga chasing him down at a rapid rate of knots.
Fabby just held on as Wesemael made a last-ditch effort into Brooklands only to come up short by just 0.6 seconds.
Alex Kapadia had taken over the Tim Gray Motorsport Praga and had been setting blistering lap times before backing off to preserve the car.
Post-race, CW Performance lodged a protest claiming that the Martin and Fabby car had not met the minimum pitstop time. The stewards agreed and the pair were struck with a 34-second time penalty (in line with a drive-through) which cost them the victory and dropped them to second.
Having missed Oulton Park, the Fox Transport Nissan GT-R GT3 looked for redemption. Things started well for Richard Wheeler and Danny Harrison as they qualified first in class and ninth overall behind the dominant Praga’s.
At the start, the Nissan got the jump and managed to build up an early advantage over the Will Powell and Dava Scaramanga Motus One McLaren 650s which had gotten stuck behind the fast-starting Class 3 Porsche 911 of Mark and Peter Cunningham.
Having amassed a 9-second advantage after just three laps, Wheeler looked set to make the most of the Porsches defensive driving. However, it was not to be as rain suddenly started bucketing it down across the entire circuit.
Wheeler opted for the cautious approach to protect his car but managed to retain the class lead despite being passed by Cunningham and managed to keep his car in one piece before handing it over to Harrison who would complete the remainder of the race.
Behind the Nissan, the MacG Racing Taranis of Ben Sharich and Jonny MacGregor had carved its way through the field after its poor qualifying and was now on the back of the McLaren ahead. Both drivers managed to keep their cars pointing in the right direction through the brief rain shower but their similarly cautious approach saw the Class 4 EDF Motorsport Cupra overtake them.
Ultimately the track quickly dried out and the Nissan began to stretch its legs once again.
Things remained fairly static for the next portion of the race until the pitstops. This is where the race turned for all three runners. Harrison, now at the wheel of the Nissan, developed a gearbox issue which gradually worsened throughout his stint.
MacGregor had taken over the Taranis and not only had he emerged ahead of the McLaren, but he also started to eat into the advantage that Wheeler had built up in his early stint.
Harrison was driving beautifully but the gearbox issue worsened until the car was stuck in fourth gear and he was forced to cruise the final 20-minutes to ensure the car made it to the flag.
This also happened to be when MacGregor passed the Nissan and hit technical issues of his own. Just two laps had passed from him taking the lead to him retiring with a crank sensor issue, robbing the team of their first victory of the season.
Will Powell’s stars had aligned all at once, with the Nissan slowing and his closest competitor now out of the running, a smooth run to the flag was not what had been expected earlier on in the race. With victory now almost guaranteed, Powell pitted for a late splash of fuel and a driver change to allow Scaramanga to gain that vital extra track time in the car.
Having emerged from the pits, his class win was safe but the overall victory in the endurance category was under threat from a charging Johnny Mowlem in the FF Corse Ferrari 458 Challenge. Scaramanga kept his cool however and he would ultimately bring the car home in first.
Harrison performed a masterclass to nurse the Nissan home second in class and third overall whilst the Taranis finished 10 laps down in 22nd place.
Also having missed Oulton Park, Class 3 frontrunners Bon Grimes and Johnny Mowlem, returned in their FF Corse and Red River Sport Ferrari 458 Challenge car. Their previous endurance experience and stellar form earlier in the season left them as pre-race favourites to win outright in the endurance category.
At the start, it was actually the SG Racing Porsche of Mark and Peter Cunningham that got the advantage and mixed it with the Class 1 runners having shot past the McLaren.
From then on a queue of faster cars formed behind the yellow and black Porsche with the experienced Bon Grimes starting to make progress having passed the Taranis.
The sudden cloudburst briefly allowed Cunningham to take the outright lead in the endurance category before Grimes got to grips with the tricky conditions and sailed off into the distance before handing over to his co-driver, Johnny Mowlem.
They returned to the track still in the lead and with an advantage of over half a minute, they looked set for another Class 3 victory and their first outright win. Ultimately it wasn’t to be, a late-race splash and dash dropped Mowlem down to fourth but importantly he still had the class lead.
The gearbox issues for the Nissan and the late demise of the Taranis elevated the Ferrari into second in endurance where they would stay until the chequered flag, taking another Class 3 victory.
The SG Racing Porsche survived an early spin trying to keep up with Grimes to come home in second after an uneventful second half of the race.
The final podium place was taken by the Bespoke Defenders Porsche of Dave Bennett and Marcus Fothergill who managed to retain their championship lead over the Class 4 Porsche of Peter Erceg and the ever closing Motus One McLaren.
The damp conditions featured throughout the day favoured the front-wheel-drive TCR machinery whilst the GT4 counterparts struggled for traction on the greasy surface.
Motus One entered a Hyundai i30N TCR for the first time this year with regular Danny Krywyj making the switch from the Cupra TCR. He was joined by Nicole Drought who makes the switch to TCR having competed in the Valluga Porsche Cayman GT4 in 2020.
The rain shower would ultimately catch out Nicole as she took a minor off-track excursion but this didn’t phase her as she managed to make up a position from her fifth-placed starting spot in class. Krywyj took over the car and would slot back into fourth after the pitstop cycle had filtered through.
Ashley Woodman and Martin Byford in their EDF Motorsport Cupra immediately jumped the Simpsons Audi of Hugo Cook and Sasha Kakad and would comfortably remain there until the pitstop window opened.
The Simpsons Audi then led the class before they finally made their pitstop (being the final car to do so). They would also rejoin in the lead, albeit briefly as another stop shortly thereafter dropped them down to third.
This paved the way clear for the CTR Alfatune Cupra of William Foster and Alex Day to take a commanding lead and they looked set for their first class victory of the season. However, once again the curse of the class leader struck and the Cupra slowed on the approach to Copse with just six and a half minutes to go.
The Hyundai now led the way having survived Drought’s earlier off with Krywyj bringing the car home first on the Hyundai’s series debut. Cook and Kakad claimed second despite their additional pitstop whilst George Heller and Jonathan Beeson rounded out the podium placings in the Sheard Autosport Golf TCR.
EDF would only finish in fourth having picked up fuel pressure problems after their mandatory pitstop, ultimately a disappointing result considering their earlier pace.
Brands Hatch hosts the penultimate round of the Goodyear Britcar Endurance Championship on the 31st of July. Jack Fabby looks for redemption after his Silverstone penalty, Fox Transport will be hoping their gearbox troubles are solved whilst EDF look to recover lost ground in the title battle.
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