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Guenter Reinhold

Race Report: Britcar 24 hours

by Nathan Heywood
Thursday, October 07, 2010

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'Welcome to the Motorsports Association British Endurance Championship' was the announcement as the Britcar series – the UK's pre-eminent production GT and saloon car enduro formula – re-branded itself ahead of the 2011 season. All we know is what we know and love as the Britcar24 hours is still the ‘tin-top24’ for the weekend. 

The twice around the clock format has been patchy in England since Selwyn Edge drove his Napier to victory at Brooklands in 1909, a notable feat as he did so solo. Otherwise there was only the Double Twelves of the 30's – two 12 hour races on two consecutive days – before the Willhire Trophy race of 1980 brought a special brand of up-market British Clubman type racing to the endurance format. Some might accuse it of being more beer and sandwiches rather than the champagne and canapés of other more famous 24 hours races, but it's all the better for it if you ask me. If the Australians could have Bathurst we could have Willhire, albeit a little colder and no Bar-B-Q. After 15 years the Willhire Trophy was no more and we Brits we left to go overseas for a 24hr fix. That is until the vision of one James Tucker resurrected the format as Britcar and at a new venue, Silverstone, in 2005.

Happily the auspicious surroundings haven't killed-off the atmosphere of the original, the spirit and the camaraderie which characterizes the event has led to large grids and excellent racing. A full grid of 60 cars will take the green flag in the blue riband event this year and the support races see more then 250 other entries in seven other clubsport and semi-pro championships. All in all a busy weekend for the race marshals but, unfortunately, there are no American entries this year with the Xero entered Corvette failing to show and the Ford Mustangs of previous years having cantered off to FIA GT3. Nevertheless the grid does have an international flavor with plenty of European entries piloted by both men and women, in both gasoline and diesel-powered cars, and an all-Japanese entered Marcos Mantis. There are separate classes roughly corresponding to GT2, GT3, GT4, and one for production cars. My count makes it 15 different manufacturer entries from the giant Moslers down to Mazda Miatas (MX5s) and everything in between.

Qualifying 1 - Day qualifying was carried out in same rain that stopped the Ryder Cup. The exquisite #3 Aquila CR1 proved fastest posting a 2:11.149, a whole half a second ahead of the nearest Mosler MT900R, who was in turn two full seconds ahead of the second Mosler, as everybody felt their way on a wet track hoping for a drier time of it in night qualifying .

Qualifying 2 - Night qualifying saw no real break occur in the weather and it too was run in the falling rain on a wet track, with the end result of nobody managing to post an improved time.

GRID:

#3 Aquila on Pole followed by the #4 Strata Mosler on the dirty side and then the #2 Eclipse Mosler, which head Class 1. In fourth place #22 Jet Alliance Porsche 997, heading Class 2, is chased by the #1 Andrew Beaumont entered Mosler MT900R and the #19 Marcos of Topcat Racing. Unfortunately it's not Officer Dibble's Ferrari 430 next on the grid, but that of Witt Gamski and John Gaw. The leading light in Class 3 proved to be the seriously pretty #60 Lotus Motorsport Evora GT4 that qualified tenth on the grid. The slower production class, Class 4, was led by the BPM Racing #71 Seat Leon Supercopa, a hard-charging super-fast sub-compact from the Volkswagen Audi Group.

Race day morning dawned partly-cloudy with some blue sky but, thankfully, no more rain. Teams dusting off their dry set-ups were able to shave ten seconds from their qualifying times and the agile #3 Aquila CRT went fastest with a lap of 1:51.548 more than two seconds faster than the Eclipse Mosler in second.

A clean start in overcast conditions saw the second prettiest car on the grid, after the Lotus Evora, lead the field away and  it was the Aquila CR1 that led thereafter for the entire first hour, building a 30 second lead. Before the safety car came out for an accident at Bridge on the turn of the hour, the lightning pace of the CR1meant that it had lapped all entrants up to the top three! Several teams hit early trouble and needed quick stops, but the Chevron GT3 was withdrawn after a spin at Stowe had revealed chassis damage done the previous day after hitting a wall. The Speedworks Ginetta – crowned British G4 champions last weekend – was the other car to be brought into the pit on a flat-bed truck. The fastest conditions of the weekend so far saw the fastest laps set by Phil Bennett in the #3 car, the Class 1 Aquila CR1 at 1:53.250 averaging 101.24 mph, the Class 2 #22 Jet alliance Porsche 997 of Martin Rich put in a lap of 2:00.646 95.03mph, which was not enough to edge the flying #60 Lotus Evora GT4 of Ollie Hancock who put in a 2:00.303 at 95.30mph in the ‘slower’ Class 3. Class 4’s speedster was the #71 BPM Racing Leon Supercopa that set a standard of 2:06.663 90.52mph. You can see from this why, with the difference of 10mph between the class leaders, that traffic and the drivers’ ability to deal with it effectively, especially at night, is as important in this race as is tire wear on the abrasive Silverstone black-top.

Hour 2 - Sedimentary second followed thrilling first. This hour’s only thing of note was Jota Sport’s Aston Martin works driver, Sam Hancock, spinning his Aston Martin N24 GT4 at Woodcote. The Aquila CR1 continued to dominate and by the end of the hour the Aquila had lapped the entire field.

Hour 3 - As the Aquila continued to stretch its lead throughout the darkening light of the third hour, a driver change saw the hard-charging Rob Huff hand-over with a two lap advantage. However; the first signs of potential fragility were in evidence as the car needed a push-start away from its box. The team owner, whilst working his Facebook form the Media Centre, told me that the car had an issue with its starter-motor. Due to the engine having such a small flywheel, the engine could be mounted very low in the car and this didn’t leave room for the starter, which has to be mounted remotely and connected with a pinion. This pinion had sheared, causing the problem. Second place overall was the Rollcentre Mosler, the ‘baby’ Mosler GT Cup – distinct from the big boy with a 4.0L engine and a tubular chassis, rather than the 7.0L and carbon tub, in order to make it more affordable to race – the #22 Jet Alliance Porsche had pushed into third and stalking them  the #8 MJC Ferrari in fourth. The Speedworks Ginetta, having made it back out, continued to have problems with electrical issues necessitating another stop for a new loom. The #39 Intersport BMW made the early pace in Class 3 and, for the first time in the weekend, the #71 BPM Racing Limited was not leading the production cars, the Mardi Gras Racing Honda Integra having taken and then built a full lap lead over the ever present red SEAT.

The weather closed-in during the fully-dark fourth hour; the rain prompting a shower of pitting for wet tires, only for many to return for slicks when the rain proved insufficient to make the treads work, and again later as the rain returned. The casualty of the hour came in class 4; the #71 BPM Racing SEAT having led the class through both the practice and qualifying sessions got punted at Maggotts breaking the front suspension. Both the #57 RJN Nissan 370z and #60 Team Lotus Evora GT4 entries also struck trouble with the Evora facing a three to four hour fix of the gearbox and the Nissan squad struggling with a recurring fuel pressure problem. As the fourth hour of the race drew to a close, the rain continued to beat down on the 50 competitors still circling, drivers have adjusted well to the tricky conditions. Up at the front the #3 Aquila remained ahead and the #22 Jet Alliance Porsche held the Class 2 lead. BMW in the form of the #39 Intersport BMW M3 E46 led Class3 and the #83 Team LNT Ginetta G40 led the Class 4 field.

Drama filled hour five when the lead #3 Aquila CR1 car came in for an unplanned pit stop. Initial reports were of failing rear lights but after half an hour driver Kelvin Burt disclosed it was a cracked cross-member in the rear suspension at fault. The clock ticked on and the car was still in the pits at the close of the hour handing the lead to the #1 Topcat Mosler on full wets, which had the Ferrari 430 GTC in hot pursuit, gambling on intermediates. They were soon joined by the Rollcentre Mosler there followed some lead trading between both Moslers and all the while the Ferrari lurked, waiting.

Jota sport’s pet AMR works driver Sam Hancock was found in a pragmatic mood, observing “I look around and there is risk everywhere; mainly, inexperienced drivers in very fast cars. I had a Mosler behind me and I wasn’t sure whether I should let him past and suffer for the rest of my stint, or keep him behind me and live with the risk…” In the end, Sam decided to let the Mosler past.

Hour six of the Britcar started with a raft of pit stops by all of the teams. This marked the end of driver stints for a majority of teams and with standing water just about everywhere, a number of drivers were more than happy to get out of the car. With the Aquila still in the pits, it was a straight fight for the lead between the #1 Topcat and #6 Rollcentre Moslers, until Jon Barnes spun the #6 car in the standing water at Priory corner, hitting the wall hard. Class 3 saw the 4th overall #42 Neil Garner Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3 leading from Steve Clark in the #32 BMW M3 whilst the Jemco Ginetta broke a driveshaft. No change in class four. The LNT Ginetta G4 extended its lead lapping faster than the lead Mosler in the full wet conditions.

Seven hours of mostly rain and still it falls, worsening if anything. The Topcat Mosler got stuck in a gravel trap needing a tow out. No damage was done but it lost the team eight laps in hour over the MJC Ferrari. The second overall #22 Jet Alliance Porsche was putting in lap after lap of good times slowly catching up and ended the hour just a lap down on the MJC Ferrari. The Class 3 leader, #42 Garner Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3, was now third overall setting lap times as quick as the lead car.

As the race approached 12am, the Class 2 #22 Jet Alliance Porsche was still flying; reeling in the Class 1 #8 MJC Ferrari 430 GTC lead car and it took the lead just as the clock struck midnight. The still treacherous weather was causing more trouble for Aaron Scott’s recently fixed Jemco Racing Ginetta G50. The windscreen had misted up and he couldn’t see. Over at the Chesterton pit, they brought in their #21 Marcos Mantis and parked up as they had decided the conditions were too bad to race in and it wasn’t worth risking a huge accident.

Hour 8 and Race Control seemed in full agreement with the Chestertons and deployed the safety car due to the terrible conditions. The lucky Chesterton team then went back out to join the slowly circling anti-rain dance. The constant rain hadn’t helped the electrics of the Rollcentre Mosler, which was pushed back to its garage after cutting out on the pit lane entrance.

At ten minutes to one in the morning, green flags, racing resumed after 45 minutes with #22 Jet Alliance Porsche leading the field and third position overall changed hands as the #39 Intersport BMW M3 passed the #42 Porsche 996 GT3  to take the lead in Class 3 only for the Porsche to retake it as the BMW pits. Depressingly bad news for the Aquila guys when the car vanishes after getting going after spending so much time in the pits. Confusion reigns as no one seems to know where it is. Then, seven or eight laps later, the car arrives back at pit lane on the back of a truck.

Ninth hour and attrition issues continuing among the more delicate flowers, the bullet-proof Porsche 997 of the Austrian Jet Alliance team did what the tried-and-tested Porsche GTs tend to do given half a chance;  they made the lead their own as the ‘faster’ cars struck problems. The #22 car held a comfortable two minute lead over the #8 MJC Ferrari when the safety car was again called upon after the Brunswick Automotive BMW had stopped out on Hangar Straight. The safety car squeezed the Porsche’s lead down by a minute and the lead pair were six laps clear of the #42 Neil Garner Porsche in third, two further laps ahead of the #39 Intersport BMW that had a lap on the #68 AMR Jota Sport entry. Each of these top five, none of them the fastest entries, had pretty much run trouble free and were proving the Tortoise’s case over that of the Hare … so far.

The tenth hour also marked the end of an eventful week for Rollcentre Racing. Having been off, battled electrical daemons, and ‘burning’ smells in the cockpit, Martin Short’s tried to locate and fix a mystery fault on the new GT Cup specification Mosler but to no avail, leaving retirement the only option. Ominously, the first signs of the infamous Silverstone morning mist were spotted but lifted soon after, as if to say I’ll be back again later. The clock struck 2:30am and the much-repaired Aquila CR1had a big off at Bridge as the throttle got stuck open. Somehow, driver Kelvin Burt got the Aquila back to the pits, but we had seen the last of the devastatingly fast and devastatingly handsome yellow car.

Still leading, the #22 Class 2 Jet Alliance Porsche. Still stalking it, #8 the Class 1 MJC Ferrari, half a lap behind. Elsewhere; pit stop time, Archie Hamilton got into the SEAT, TopCat’s Mosler was in and out in 6th. The only other Mosler running was 40th but Mr Keen gave it some right foot in the #2 Eclipse as he got back into the car. Speedworks’ night-owl Emily Fletcher got quickly into her stride, taking two places and battling with the #99 MG ZR190 before pitting for fuel in 36th position. Big off at Vale for Ian Donaldson in the #39 BMW M3 who stuffed it deep into the gravel trap. The marshals gave it their best attempt but the BMW would not be shifted. The #60 Team Lotus Evora came in for another gearbox – after a gearbox change earlier in the day and having spent over 80 laps in the pits – this was looking less pretty than the car.

At the half-way point the tactical fight between the #22 Jet Alliance Porsche and #8 MJC Limited Ferrari 430 and each of them against the element, saw the Porsche boys blink first and stop first – Seefried handing over to Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer – the car took on another set of intermediates and the team waited to see what the Ferrari guys would do with their lead as John Gaw elected to stay out. Whatever the reasoning the safety car put paid to the strategy as it was scrambled for the #2 Eclipse Motorsport Mosler. With Ferrari and Porsche reunited behind the safety car, the Ferrari needed tires and was low on fuel, but ‘The Rules’ state that only 25 liters of fuel can be added under safety car conditions. So it was hardly surprising that the Ferrari pitted as soon as the safety car came in and got back out again pronto, so not losing its lap lead. What was both surprising and tactically brilliant was that they performed this feat several times under yellows and succeeded in filling the tank 25 liters at a time. However; the Ferrari team manager was summoned to race control and handed a one lap penalty for speeding in the pit lane, splitting the lead fight after all. Another split happened in the Class 2 when the Topcat Racing Marcos, having fought its way inside the overall top ten before having to stop, developed a problem with the differential and the repair dropped the car out of the top 20.

After 12 hours the lead 1, 2, 3, were somewhat surprisingly the Class Leaders of each of Classes 1, 2, and 3. Overall classification: 1st #22 Jet Alliance – Porsche 997, 2nd #8 MJC Limited – Ferrari 430 GTC, and 3rd #42 Neil Garner Racing – Porsche 996 GT3 Cup.


Class 1

1 #8 MJC Limited – Ferrari 430 GTC

2 #1 Topcat Racing – Mosler MT900R GT2

3 #4 Strata 21 – Mosler MT900R GT2

Class 2

1 #22 Jet Alliance – Porsche 997

2 #21 Topcat Racing – Marcos Mantis GT3

3 #19 Chesterton Holdings – Marcos Mantis GT3

Class 3

1 #42 Neil Garner Racing – Porsche 996 GT3 Cup

2 #38 AMR Jota Sport – Aston Martin N24 GT4

3 #32 KG Racing – BMW M3 E46

Class 4

1 #83 Team LNT – Ginetta G40

2 #91 Mardi Gras Motorsport – Honda Integra

3 #86 Mazda Motors UK – Mazda MX5


Hours 13/14/15 – With the wee small hours behind us and not long to go before daybreak, Alex Buncombe, in the yellow RJN Nissan 370z, puts in the stint of the night, lapping over ten seconds quicker than his rivals and moving up ten places in a little over 6 laps. This was before the safety car came out and spoiled his fun. Having come out, the safety car then stayed out due to the infamous Silverstone fog. Almost the entire 14th hour was spent behind the safety car and the yellow flags were only replaced by green at the turn of the hour. The safety car did manage to split of the field in favour of the Jet Alliance Porsche, putting it almost the full lap ahead of the MJC Ferrari, and also induced some strategic behaviour with cars pitting several times over in order to fill their fuel tanks with the maximum 25 litres at a time that the Britcar rules allow under safety car conditions. The Strata 21 Mosler re-appeared in tenth place, as the #45 Welch Motorsport SEAT disappeared, and the field finally got back to racing as dawn looked to break over the Northamptonshire countryside. With most drivers on their second stint, the #22 Jet Alliance Porsche began to re-build its lead, lapping the #8 MJC Ferrari. Another Porsche looked to be going well; the #42 Neil Garner Motorsport Porsche 996 GT3 held third position overall for over five hours and this saw the Class 2 front-runners on course for a podium finish in addition to a win in their class. The GTF Race Cars entered TVR Sagaris GTR pulled over near Bridge corner at 7am after having shown good pace and surviving 14.5 hours, some 14 hours more than most secretly suspected it would last, given TVR road-cars’ legendary preference for spending time in the garage rather than on the road. Come on TVR guys you can fix it! As a representative of one famous British marque retired so another re-emerged from its lair; the Lotus Motorsport’s Evora GT made re-appearance after having had some heavy taping-up done to it.

Hour 16 found the Jet Alliance squad having strengthened their already tight grip on the Britcar 24 Hours, their lead extended by another penalty to the #8 MJC Ferrari 430 GTC, deducting another lap for running the red light at the end of the pit lane this time. The penalty left the Austrians with a three lap lead with the top four spread over 15 laps and behind them a group of half a dozen or so cars covered by only a few laps to make up the top ten. The perennial top four were usurped by the #1 TopCat Mosler as they became the cat amongst the Jet Alliance, MJC, Neil Garner Motorsports and Jota Sport pigeons. Somewhat predictably the Team LNT ‘going like a train’ Ginetta continued its reliability display nestled safely in the top ten and pulling ever further away in the Class 4 production rankings to be 13 laps in front of the Mardi Gras Motorsport Honda and the #86 Mazda Miata aka Eunos Roadster aka MX5 in third place. It was truck time for The Van as the media centre had christened it (the rear side windows having been filled-in with panels on which to mount the filler cap). The regularly sideways #92 Renault Clio, run by an all-French squad who gave it plenty of the loud pedal, went off at Stowe and came back to the pit on a flat-bed truck looking pretty sorry for itself front wheels akimbo.

Hours 17/18 – safety car period, yes another, began fifteen minutes into the hour after the resurrected #7 GTF Sagaris went off at the entrance to Club this time with a suspected rear suspension failure. Shortly afterwards, the Eclipse Motorsport Mosler re-joined the fray on lap 380, the Ferrari pitted and, somewhat unusually, managed not to incur a penalty in doing its business. Even so, we began a debate amongst ourselves as to how long it would last, the engine sounding ropey and none of the pit crew would talk. The #22 Jet Alliance Porsche 997, the race leader, was in a couple of laps later followed straight in by the TopCat Mosler in fourth. Then, with the #7 TVR back in its favourite place (on the back of the flat-bed) the safety car came in and racing began as the dings donged 9 o’clock.

I have mentioned the Mazda Motors MX5s before but I don’t think that I yet made mention of the fact that they are the roadster versions. Yup, that’s right, 50 degrees, eight acres of rain and no roof to keep the engine heat in at night either. Hats off then to Mark Ticehurst, Owen Mildenhall, Mike Wilds and Jamie Corstophine even if they didn’t make it to the end; their #86 Mazda Miata ground to a halt, and was towed in from 19th overall and third in class. A highly impressive, dogged performance and well worth the early bath.

Upfront, things weren’t all rosy in the Jet Alliance garden as Porsche driver Martin Rich began posting lap times in the 2:20s, which if continued would allow the MJC Ferrari time to overhaul them for a potential win. The Ferrari continued its good form of the last 60 minutes, despite sounding like a bag of wrenches being dropped down a stairwell, and the #8 MJC 430 GTC took five seconds each lap from the leader. The gap was now at 2 laps and poised to shrink further, potentially setting us up for a grandstand finish. Another team impressing the die-hard stop-outs and the early risers was the other TopCat, the Marcos Mantis. This team’s perseverance and it’s not over until I say it is over attitude stood them in good stead and they were 18th overall and 2nd in class at the end of hour eighteen.

A poor excuse for a watery daylight is losing its struggle against the clouds stacked-up over Silverstone, the spray and big rooster tails kicked-up by the venturi under-trays remind us of one thing, the warm coffee and bacon rolls they serve in the Paddock café. The drivers continue to put on a show as we slope off for breakfast.

Hour 19 – thoughts of stop-go penalties, safety cars, oil, debris, and rain were temporarily put back into the memory bank as a fired-up John Gaw in the #8 Ferrari wrestled it round and over-hauled the unfortunate Vitus Eckert the Gentleman Racer from Austria being given an in-depth demonstration of just how it should be done. Unfortunately Eckert didn’t seem to be taking notes during his single stint for the Jet Alliance team and the difference in pace between the two was mind-boggling with Gaw taking 20 seconds a lap at times from the lead car. Sufficient to put himself back on the lead lap and then past the Porsche for the lead after having four laps behind. Then, just for good measure, Gaw man-handled the Ferrari around some more and built up a seven second lead in the same lap! The stint of the Sunday marked the first lead change since the half-way point some seven hours previously and Gaw certainly lived-up to his ‘very quick’ billing. However, all good things must come to an end and Gaw handed over to Keith Robinson. This pit-stop allowed the Porsche to regain the lead and Robinson started the task of re-reeling Eckert, five seconds a lap at a time.

The TopCat Mosler also jumped its rival as the then third placed #42 Neil Garner Motorsport Porsche entry pitted at the end of the hour. The Porsche did maintain its Class 3 lead over the AMR Jota Sport, however, as the Hancock/Dolan/Porritt combination was five laps behind. Third in class was the #44 Welch Motorsport SEAT after it had swapped places with the Tischner and KG Motorsport BMW M3s.

The bright orange Ginetta held a 16 lap lead over the Saxon Motorsport Acura Integra Type R and the Cox family Ford Escort was third in class promoted after the earlier demise of the #86 Mazda and the Mardi Gras Integra also had bowed out with electrical issues but the car did, eventually, reappear on the track although well down the order and all but out of contention for claiming a class podium.

Hour 20 saw the Ferrari begin in second place after its pit stop and once up to pace Robinson picked up where Gaw had left off, hacking chunks of time out of Porsche’s lead until eventually re-taking the lead when Vitus Eckert pitted and handed the reins to Marco Seefield in a scheduled stop. Just as the race appeared to be the #8 MJC squad’s to lose they take a second stop for new tires. Strange strategy call but we trust them to know what we observers cannot. Advantage Ferrari. Well, no. The additional stop put Robinson behind the fast German, and Seefield was able to expand his lead before being pegged back by Robinson to around 60 seconds.

The 21st hour generally signals the beginning of the end-game, time to break camp and pack away ready for the podium ceremony. The endurance format often follows a pattern of struggle for position early in the race, consolidate position in the mid-stages, and figure out what the other guy is up to in the run in; hoping, of course, to second guess him and win. That MJC appeared to hand Jet Alliance the race with an out of sync stop for tires is a given, but not all was lost, yet. The tactical shadow-boxing between the MJC and Jet Alliance teams was ruptured when as the #22 Porsche exited the pits, the safety car was deployed because of heavy rainfall. This meant that with the safety car out, the Porsche was unable to pass and the Ferrari now held a seven second lead But for how long? The safety car stayed out for most of the remainder of the hour and within two laps of the restart Marco Seefield gunned the Porsche down the straightaway and blasted past the Ferrari re-taking the lead.

Hour 22 was remarkably unremarkable. The predictability and little movement between positions making for an easy packing things away session and for a slow end to the race. However; not to be outdone by MJC, Speedworks' Christina Holley joined in with the pit lane penalty game, collecting her 2 lap penalty for being released too early from a pit stop. Which, with all drivers having been repeatedly warned on the issue by stewards concerned with the safety of the large field, is fair enough and the team had had 21 hours to practice counting to 90. However; Holley kept her head and held onto a hard-fought 26th position.

Hour 23 was remarkably more remarkable that the previous hour as the ‘pit stop chicken’ game was being played-out by the race leaders. As the team principals tried to work their strategic magic, guessing and second guessing whether the opposition needed to pit again, the drivers – John Gaw back in the cockpit for MJC against Mikael Nykjear in the Jet Alliance car – got ready to slug it out. Gaw gnawed at the 36 second lead by seconds a lap and got close enough to consider a pass as the race entered the final ninety minutes. The gap of seconds fell away to nothing within a short while and had Gaw only waiting to pounce behind Nykjear’s Porsche as they came across pockets of slower traffic. Gaw put the decisive move on Nykjear at Becketts on lap 533, with 72 minutes of the 1,440 race minutes remaining, pulling away at nearly four seconds a lap.

The only possible Porsche saviour, barring some misfortune or other, would be fuel efficiency. The Porsche stayed out on track after being demoted to second place and it was the leader who blinked first with just over an hour to go. Gaw brought the car in, was given fresh inters in the place of the wets it had worn all morning and most of the night. The textbook stop of just over the 90 second minimum time put the Ferrari just under ninety seconds behind the Porsche and with only the possibility of another Porsche stop still to come, Gaw resumed his relentless assault on the lead.

Entering the final hour saw the MJC Limited entered Ferrari 430 GTC scything through the autumnal weather at Silverstone. With John Gaw at the wheel the team had a capable and efficient pursuit man more than capable of passing the Porsche, if he could catch it. The Ferrari seemed to have had it handed to them though when the Porsche had to make a final stop with 56 minutes of the race remaining, Nykjaer taking  fresh inters and 50 litres  of Sunoco’s finest 100 octane gasoline. But, the Ferrari had only taken on 25 litres of fuel when it stopped some minutes earlier. Would it have sufficient fuel to see it home or build up a sufficient lead to allow it to emerge from a splash-and-dash ahead of the Porsche?

Well somebody at MJC obviously got the fuel rig man a new pocket calculator for his birthday because Gaw was able to maintain a 60 second cushion over the his rival and pretty much match or beat Nykjaer’s lap times all the way to the chequered flag and the waiting pit-wall scaling crew toward whom Gaw pulled over and took their salute at a crawl.

The #22 Porsche followed in due course and endurance-style showcase finish was given by TopCats Racing, whose three surviving cars all marked the end of their 24 hours by crossing the line together. The two Marcos Mantis either side of their Mosler MT900R, which came in second in Class 1.

The class win in Class 2 having been taken by the second overall #22 Jet Alliance – Porsche 997. Class 3 was won by the #42 Neil Garner Motorsport Porsche, which placed third overall, and that had led the class for much of the race since overtaking the AMR Jota Sport Vantage N24 during the night. The #68 car came in six laps adrift in second and ahead of the #44 Welch Motorsport Seat Leon Supercopa that completed the class podium.

Class 4 – The Production class – was won by the excellent Team LNT/Ginetta Cars entry that had also led its class for much of the race. The Cox family team and their ‘store in a barn for 11 years then race it’ ex-rally Ford Escort Cosworth finished second in class ahead of the Saxon Motorsport Acura Integra Type R that held on for a third place.

Overall Top Ten Classification

1 – Class 1 – #8 MJC Limited – Ferrari 430 GTC – Witt Gamski/Phil Dryburgh/Keith Robinson/John Gaw

2 – Class 2 – #22 Jet Alliance – Porsche 997 – Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer/Vitus Eckert/Marco Seefried/Mikael Nykjaer/Martin Rich

3 – Class 3 – #42 Neil Garner Motorsport – Porsche 996 GT3 Cup – Javier Morcillo/Jan Persson/Manuel Cintrano/Rob Barrett/Jay Shepherd/Oliver Campos-Hull

4 – Class 1 – #1 TopCats Motorsport – Mosler MT900R GT2 – Andrew Beaumont/Pat Gormley/Henry Fletcher/Ben Clucas

5 – Class 3 – #68 AMR Jota Sport – Aston Martin N24 GT4 – Sam Hancock/Simon Dolan/Chris Porritt

6 – Class 1 – #4 Strata 21 – Mosler MT900R GT2 – Callum Lockie/Paul White/Ross Bygrave/Piers Maserati

7 – Class 3 – #44 Welch Motorsport – Seat Leon Supercopa – Clint Harvey/Malcolm Niall/Brett Niall/Daniel Welch

8 – Class 3 – #32 Tischner Motorsport – BMW M3 E46 – Michael Tischner/Matthias Tischner/Ullrich Becker

9 – Class 3 – #45 KG Motorsport – BMW M3 E46 – Julian Westwood/Gino Ussi/Nick Foster/Steve Clark/Keith Gent

10 – Class 3 – #52 Welch Motorsport – Seat Leon Supercopa – Mark Pilatti/Luke Wright/Richard Kent/Archie Hamilton

Final Class Standings

Class 1

1 – MJC Limited – Ferrari 430 GTC – Witt Gamski/Phil Dryburgh/Keith Robinson/John Gaw – 565 laps

2 – TopCats Motorsport – Mosler MT900R GT2 – Andrew Beaumont/Pat Gormley/Henry Fletcher/Ben Clucas – 47 laps

3 – Strata 21 – Mosler MT900R GT2 – Callum Lockie/Paul White/Ross Bygrave/Piers Maserati – 540 laps

Class 2

1 – Jet Alliance – Porsche 997 – Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer/Vitus Eckert/Marco Seefried/Mikael Nykjaer/Martin Rich – 565 laps

2 – TopCats Racing – Marcos Mantis GT3 – Steve Hyde/Jan Harrison/Raphael Fiorentino/Owen O’Neill – 513 laps

3 – Graham Bryant – Marcos Mantis GT3 - Graham Bryant/Oliver Bryant/Will Goff – 406 laps

Class 3

1 – Neil Garner Motorsport – Porsche 996 GT3 Cup – Javier Morcillo/Jan Persson/Manuel Cintrano/Rob Barrett/Jay Shepherd/Oliver Campos-Hull – 550 laps

2 – AMR Jota Sport – Aston Martin N24 GT4 – Sam Hancock/Simon Dolan/Chris Porritt – 541 laps

3 – Welch Motorsport – Seat Leon Supercopa – Clint Harvey/Malcolm Niall/Brett Niall/Daniel Welch – 536 laps

Class 4

1 – Team LNT – Ginetta G40 – Nigel Moore/Stewart Linn/Mike Simpson/Lawrence Tomlinson – 521 laps

2 – Race Car Spares Motorsport – Ford Escort Cosworth – Dave Cox/Michael Cox/Jason Cox – 505 laps

3 – Saxon Motorsport – Honda Civic Type R – John Mawdsley/George Haynes/ Marcus May/Simon Hill – 502 laps

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