BRSCC HOSTS CATERHAM & BRITCAR AT SUPERB SILVERSTONE GP SPECTACULAR
Even though the weather decided to provide its own challenges at times, the BRSCC’s two days of racing on the Silverstone GP circuit this past weekend was superb to say the least, with a timetable full of top-class racing from both Caterham Motorsport and the British Endurance Championship/ Britcar Trophy, plus additional sports prototype racing to further add to the variety.
CATERHAM SEVEN CHAMPIONSHIP UK – FIRST TIME WINNERS BRAVE MIXED CONDITIONS
The changeable conditions on Saturday morning at Silverstone were so unpredictable that the drivers of the Caterham Seven Championship UK elected not to run the SuperPole shootout on this occasion, due to being undecided on whether to run slicks or wet tyres. Therefore the times from the regular qualifying session set the grid for Race 1, with Tom Eden claiming pole in the dry before the rain arrived.
Thanks to the conditions affecting the previous races, the timer for Race 1 started on the second green flag lap, but when racing got underway Henry Heaton immediately took the lead from pole man Eden. It wasn’t long, however, before 2021 310R champion Lewis Thompson went to the front in his first Seven UK start and soon enough Jake Swann-Dixon also joined the pair to form a leading trio. The three cars all took turns to head the field throughout the race, until Thompson began dropping back from the top two and settled for 3rd. Swann-Dixon led heading onto the final lap but the two drivers ended up side by side through the final few corners, ending up almost in a dead heat over the line. The timing gave the win to Swann-Dixon by just 0.006 seconds from Heaton, while Thompson wound up a comfortable third.
Thompson jumped into the lead in Sunday’s first race in brighter and drier conditions, but soon enough he had a seething six-pack chasing after him to form the lead group. Aaron Head took up the mantle of Thompson’s lead pursuer, but both were also quickly caught by a charging James Murphy who passed both just before half distance to take his turn to lead. Between Head, Murphy and Thompson, 1st place changed hands again several times over while the four cars behind them looked on and even began to get involved. Tim Dickens, Lee Bristow, Henry Heaton and Saturday winner Swann-Dixon all threw themselves into the mix and the pack stayed together all the way to the flag until Head dropped out on the penultimate lap. Murphy led onto the final lap, then lost it to Thompson mid way round, and then retook it heading to Brooklands to take victory – on the road. After the race, Murphy was given a 0.1 second time penalty for causing a collision earlier in the race, meaning Thompson now claimed the win instead. The new winning margin on the result? 0.001 seconds! Tim Dickens was also delighted with a solid 3rd place.
Thompson beat Murphy to Copse beginning Race 3 which was shortened to 15 minutes due to time constraints, but Murphy would be out in front by the conclusion of the opening lap with Dickens in tow, before Heaton charged through to insert himself into the top three moments later. Aaron Head was also another driver recovering from bad luck in the previous race, and at half distance he was challenging Murphy for the lead, the pair now swapping P1. With three minutes to go, a massive skirmish took place exiting Chapel which ended up with Dickens in the gravel at Vale while Thompson now led from Swann-Dixon and Head. Swann-Dixon took it into Stowe on the final lap, Thompson took it back into Brooklands, but an incredibly well timed run from Head saw him steal the win at the line in another thrilling photo finish. The winning margin this time was just 0.003 seconds, meaning the total combined margin of victories between all three races was just a hundredth of a second!
CATERHAM SEVEN 310R CHAMPIONSHIP – SALES PROFITS IN THE DRY TO TAKE COMEBACK WIN
A bumper 37 car entry contested the pair of 30 minute races for the Motul Caterham Seven 310R Championship, the final step on the Caterham Motorsport ladder where drivers used their modified original Academy car before progressing to the Seven UK ranks. Track conditions were mainly dry for qualifying as James Wingfield took pole, but there was a slight drizzle in the air which in turn meant the circuit was still saturated come the start of Race 1, which also started the timer on the second green flag lap.
Jack Sales got the better of Wingfield off the line and capitalised on a three way fight for 2nd place between Wingfield, Harry Landy and Stephen Lyall. The latter quickly shook off the took cars around him and it wasn’t long before he caught and passed Sales to take over in front. Wingfield and Landy both joined in with the fight for 1st, and along with Harry George, the three cars all tried to demote Sales down to 5th place. Jack responded by attacking for the lead with 10 minutes to go, but to no avail as the lead group continued to grow and grow. Lyall constantly remained at the head of the group during this time and only lost it when George completed a pass into Stowe on the penultimate lap, before Lyall took it back again corners later. Still leading onto the final lap, Lyall kept hold of it until Wingfield slid inside at Luffield and with George also pouncing, the three cars hit the line together at the flag. Incredibly, George snatched the win from their grasp with Wingfield classified 2nd and long time leader Lyall forced to take 3rd.
Thankfully conditions were bone dry on Sunday, as Wingfield and George both lost out to the fast starting Sales once again as they contested the lead in the opening corners. With Carl Jones and David Yates coming together at the Arena section and the rest of the leaders behind him getting tangled up battling each other, it left Sales to stretch an early gap in front and he looked comfortable in the lead whilst the bun fight for 2nd downwards raged on. Eventually, a trio of cars shook out for the podium places as Ben Lopez-Appleton, Lyall and George began to work together to try and catch Sales. However, Lyall dropped back due to contact with Lopez-Appleton, and because of this both Blair McConachie and Tom Cockerill came through to pass both Lopez-Appleton and George to eventually ended up side by side over the line at the flag, McConachie only just ahead of Cockerill. As for Sales, he drove to a thrilling first win since returning to Caterham racing, clinching P1 by five seconds.
CATERHAM SEVEN 270R CHAMPIONSHIP – OLD RIVALS LOCK HORNS AGAIN AS CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE TIGHTENS
If there’s a trio of drivers you’d regularly expect to be at the front of a Caterham race together in the past couple of seasons, a good answer would be Taylor O’Flanagan, Domenique Mannsperger and Hugo Bush. Since the Academy, these three drivers have been a constant at the head of any race they take part in, and that’s been the case again in this year’s Caterham Seven 270R Championship. At Silverstone, the same names locked out the first three grid slots for Race 1, with O’Flanagan taking pole.
Immediately, Bush managed to jump into the lead from the front row, with Mannsperger demoting O’Flanagan down to 3rd. The top three remained unchanged in the opening laps, quickly pulling out a gap to the next group behind as they ended up in their own private battle. Heading towards half distance, wet weather specialist Mannsperger traded places with leader Bush three times in one lap to hit the front himself, with O’Flanagan following him through into Copse as they began the next tour before attempting to take the lead himself into Stowe. The lead changed numerous times throughout the second half once more between the top three and got incredibly tense in the final laps, eventually ending up with O’Flanagan managing to win Race 1 by half a second ahead of Bush just pipping Mannsperger for 2nd place.
Bush took the lead at the start of Race 2 and was able to hold top position, but it wasn’t long before both Mannsperger and O’Flanagan took their turns early on. A large leading group eventually formed including Philip Bianchi, Alex Vincent, Toby Boyes and guest driver Ben Buckley, and the usual frantic position swapping occurred lap by lap as the race crossed the halfway point, despite yellows down at Luffield for Andrew Berg’s car stranded in the gravel. Bianchi in particular put himself right amongst the regular front three and at one point even took the lead, but he would eventually drop back to 7th by the flag after contact while battling, with the usual suspects all back on the podium. O’Flanagan hit the front on the final lap, but Mannsperger swept round the outside into Brooklands and just beat Taylor to the line to capture the win. Bush was a slightly more distant 3rd, albeit only some seven tenths back still.
CATERHAM ROADSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP – NEWMAN AND CHIDDICKS BACK ON THE TOP STEP
The championship battle in the Caterham Roadsport Championship is already looking pretty spicy with Charlie Lower leading a tie for 2nd between Freddie Chiddicks and Geoff Newman heading to the Silverstone GP rounds. However none of them would be on pole for Race 1 as Lovecars’ very own Paul Woodman took top time in qualifying to start from P1 for the very first time in his burgeoning racing career.
Off the start, outgoing Academy Green champion Geoff Newman jumped straight into the lead and quickly left behind a large group of cars scrapping over the podium places. Heading towards half distance, however, the conditions changed dramatically as a sudden rain shower hit the circuit and sent first Theo Theato and then pole man Woodman skating off the road. Woodman was incredibly lucky not to get collected by anyone as he slid across the wet grass at Becketts and back onto the circuit, sending cars scattering all around him to avoid a collision. By this point, Newman was now leading by four seconds which looked insurmountable, until a late safety car to recover stranded cars in the gravel reset everyone back to zero. Chiddicks ran a great restart to keep with Newman and on the final lap, Newman cracked under pressure through Maggotts and Becketts as the rain fell harder. Chiddicks immediately took the lead and went on to win, with William James in 2nd and Charlie Lower taking 3rd in track before a track limits time penalty allowed Newman to retain the final podium spot.
William James would be the one to lead off the line in Race 2 before Lower, Chiddicks and then Newman all taking turns to lead before the opening lap was complete. As in other races, a large lead pack had quickly formed which included impressive rookie Jody Lees who managed to work his way momentarily into the lead in a great show of ability. By half distance, the top four of Newman, Chiddicks, Woodman and James tried to break away and heading into the closing stages, they were well clear of the next group in their own fight. On the final lap, Chiddicks attacked into the final complex but Newman kept his nose in front to win with Woodman taking a superb podium finish with 3rd.
CATERHAM ACADEMY CHAMPIONSHIPS – GREEN & WHITE COMBINE TO TACKLE GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT
As they had done the year before, both groups of the fledgling racing drivers competing in the Caterham Academy headed to the Silverstone GP circuit ready to race as one large combined grid, all together at the same time.
With 47 cars in total on the combined grid, it was always going to be busy at the start of the race and immediately the front runners from both Academy groups went into combat for the overall lead. Rrutuj Patki ended up being a lone Green Group representative amongst several White Group runners including Matt Larbey and Tom McEwing, but through all of them came Ben Timmons who picked up the lead on Lap 2. McEwing took his turn moments later with Patki chasing both drivers hard, with both Timmons and McEwing constantly trading places in front as other joined in. Timmons eventually spun at Brooklands and wound up 12th overall (8th in group) in the end.
As for the top three, Larbey, McEwing and Patki continued to switch places back and forth as the closing laps played out, but at one point McEwing misjudged moving out of Larbey’s slipstream and tagged the back of Matt’s car. Both continued unscathed heading onto the final lap, but Larbey himself them hit the back of McEwing through Maggotts and Becketts, lifting the front of Matt’s car into the air but continuing on. An incident further back at Copse forced the race to be stopped, and with the result going back to the last complete lap, it gave Larbey the overall and White Group win ahead of Green Group victor Patki and McEwing 3rd overall and second in White. Fellow group podium finishers were Ryan Wilby in the White Group and Toby Ballard and Harvey Lawrence in the White Group.
BRITISH ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP – MERCEDES 1-2 AS RAIN DOMINATES 2 HOUR ENDURO
As a guest of the BRSCC on the timetable at this meeting, the Club were privileged to welcome both the British Endurance Championship and Britcar Trophy series run by Claire Hedley’s Britcar organization. Drizzly conditions greeted the teams in qualifying, but by the time the 2 hour endurance race rolled around for the BEC, torrential rain had heavily saturated the circuit, catching out even the pole-sitting Simpsons Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Sacha Kakad and Hugo Cook which spun exiting Chapel on the lap to the grid pre-race.
The pair of front row Mercedes immediately jumped into the leading positions as the rest of the field battled with the track conditions and walls of spray kicked up from the cars around them. The Simpsons Motorsport Mercedes GT3 pulled out an initial lead, leaving the Rob Boston Racing example to come under pressure from the ING Sport BMW Z4 GT3 as they duelled over 2nd place, with the BMW taking the place just before an early safety car for the Breakell Racing Mercedes AMG GT4 stranded in the Stowe gravel.
The race quickly settled down again on the restart with the top 3 remaining static, while the Class C lead changed after a spin for the Valluga Racing Ferrari 458 Challenge helped the SG Racing Porsche 997 Cup catch and pass them into Vale. Not long after, the Valluga Ferrari lost more time spinning exiting Aintree while the leading Simpsons Mercedes made the first of its mandatory stops, dropping it to the bottom of the top 20. Out in front, the ING Sport BMW was gradually extending a comfortable lead as its first pit stop approached.
The Rob Boston Racing Mercedes had a brief spin at Stowe not long after half distance, while the leading BMW wouldn’t make its first pit stop until the 70 minute mark. The RBR Mercedes also received a drive-through penalty for a pit infringement. They chose to serve it straight away and managed to hold the lead through the next stint, before diving in for their last stop with just under 25 minutes to go. Both the Simpsons Mercedes and ING Sport BMW also dived in for theirs, with the order eventually shaking out with RBR in front by more than 20 seconds. From here, the lead increased over the remaining 15 minutes and the pair of Wayne Marrs and Tom Jackson clinched the overall and Class A victory, from Cook and Kakad in 2nd and the BMW duo of Kevin Clarke, Ian Lawson and Ryan Lindsay completing the podium positions.
Further class victories were also taken by the RaceLab Lamborghini Super Trofeo Evo of Claude Bovet and David McDonald (Class B), the RNR Performance Cars Ferrari 458 Challenge of Chris Goddard and Bradley Ellis (Class C), Ian Gough and Euan Hankey in their invitation Porsche Cayman (Class D) and Ashley Woodman and Martin Byford in the EDF Motorsports CUPRA Leon Competicion TCR (Class E).
BRITCAR TROPHY – BMW AND GINETTA SPLIT SUNDAY HONOURS AT SILVERSTONE
After their British Endurance counterparts had to brave poor weather conditions the day before, thankfully the weather was much brighter and dry for the pair of Britcar Trophy races on Sunday, with a vast array of BMWs, Ginettas, Renault Clios and VW Golfs mostly populating the entry.
After an aborted first start, the second attempt at getting Race 1 underway was successful with Lee Frost leading a BMW 1-2 ahead of Jasver Sapra, followed by the new Ginetta GT4s right on their tail driven by Owen Hizzey and Axel van Nederveen. Frost’s car gave up the ghost just minutes in, leaving Sapra to handle the two Ginettas behind him, but his pace was good enough to start pulling a gap on the pair as the race ticked over towards half distance. The BMW pitted at said half way point, with the two Ginettas following suit not long after and van Nederveen making his stop last of the three. Once it had all shaken out, the Hizzey/ Mark Lee Ginetta was on the bootlid of Branson’s BMW briefly, and despite staying close the Ginetta didn’t quite have the ultimate pace to make a pass for the lead. The Branson/Sapra M3 held firm through the final minutes to claim victory ahead of Hizzey/ Lee, while van Nederveen kept 3rd albeit 14 seconds off the win.
The Sapra/ Branson BMW shot off out in front again in Race 2, albeit this time with three Ginettas trying to catch him with the SVG Motorsport G55 Academy car of Neil Wallace and Ian Astley up there with Hizzey/ Lee and van Nederveen. The race was neutralised after a Ginetta and a Clio came together at the Arena section, wiping out Sapra’s lead entirely and on the restart the BMW had to try and escape the Ginetta trio all over again – which became a duo after van Nederveen spun out at the Arena. When the Sapra/Branson BMW left the pits, not only was it behind the Hizzey/ Lee Ginetta, but moments later they lost 2nd to the E36 M3 of Nigel Greensall and David Gooding. This top three order remained the same until the flag, with the SVG Motorsport Ginetta taking a hard fought win.
ZEO PROTOTYPE CUP & SPORTS PROTOTYPE CUP – REVOLUTIONS ADD TO THE PROTOTYPE SPECTACLE
Acting as their centrepiece event of their 2022 calendar, the ZEO Proto Series took to the Silverstone GP circuit with the addition of a few cars taking part in the Sports Prototype Cup, mainly consisting of several Revolution 500SC race cars lining up alongside the regular Radicals, Junos and more.
James Abbott came from pole position in his Revolution and was never headed at the top of the field, leading from start to finish and dominating the rest of the field to win by 20 seconds ahead of Michael Clark in 2nd aboard his Radical RXC and Graham Charman’s Juno. This came after top names such as Mike Jenvey, Matt Manderson and Sir Chris Hoy all fell by the wayside and retired with their own mechanical issues. Not lifting his foot off the gas for a moment, Abbott once again mimicked his Race 1 performance and also led Race 2 from start to finish to complete a perfect double from Silverstone, ahead of Matt Manderson’s repaired Radical SR8 and the RXC of Michael Clark on the podium once again in 3rd.