At the conclusion of the 2023 Silverlake C1 24 Hours at Silverstone this past weekend, the final result showed that Trojon Motorsport had taken victory after starting from pole position, but this was not a lights-to-flag win – far from it! In a race that featured intense battles, lead changes galore, a number of front-running teams hitting strife and a conclusion that saw one last dramatic event before the chequered flag flew.

51 teams lined up in pit lane on Friday evening for qualifying ahead of the race start at 5:30pm on Saturday afternoon, with the prospect of a brand winner of the 24 Hours in 2023 thanks to the absence of double reigning victors Hybrid Tune. Once the 90 minute session had concluded, Trojon Motorsport scored fastest time to take pole for the C1 24 Hours by a fraction over a second ahead of JW Bird Motorsport in 2nd fastest, then Scuderia Pollo Rosso, Fighting Torque and SCK Motorsport.

Scuderia Pollo Rosso got the best jump from the start of the race to lead out of Copse, with JW Bird also taking second to push pole sitters Trojon down to 3rd place. Barely a lap was completed before the first safety car of the race was called for bodywork on track, but this only lasted a lap. JW Bird immediately latched onto Pollo Rosso from the restart and the pair quickly gapped the rest of the field, led by Fighting Torque and co, before Matthew Wilson took the JW Bird car past James Matthews of Pollo Rosso with the two cars continuing to run together. A second safety car brought everyone back together with the restart shortly before the first hour was complete.

JW Bird tried to get away but was caught again by Pollo Rosso while an almighty fight for 3rd place downwards was taking place by the next seven cars in the top 10, with Trojon taken turns with JW Bird’s #449 car, Emax, Darke & Taylor, BPC Tuning, AB Motorsport and Fighting Torque all getting into the mix as well. Safety car #3 was called after the two Patrick Watts Racing cars tangled at The Loop, bringing the leaders back together with the rest of the pack as the first scheduled pit stops loomed.

Trojan were first to blink as they pitted just before two and half hours run, joined shortly by the leading Silverlake car a couple of laps later, before both BPC Tuning and Pollo Rosso pitted together from 1st and 2nd places. JW Bird were also next and by the time everything had shaken out, Trojon were back in front but only momentarily when JW Bird repassed them into Stowe just before the fourth safety car was thrown.

Heading into the night, it was Trojon from JW Bird and BPC Tuning in the top three, and going into the darkness Trojon was able to maintain the lead over the next three hours until WRC Developments’ #318 car took its turn in front at the end of the seventh hour. Overnight, it was both Emax Motorsport #394 and AB Motorsport that traded P1 between them, but when morning light broke it was indeed Emax that held a one lap lead heading into the final third of the race. During the night, Scuderia Pollo Rosso suffered two engine failure, JW Bird spun down the order and found themselves on the comeback trail, BPC Tuning had a battery cable fail on them and Silverlake also had their own share of spins and shunts to climb back up the field too.

Emax now led from AB and WRC Developments with less than eight hours to go with Emax out in front by a lap and proceeding to trade the lead with AB as both teams ran their own pit strategies out of sequence with each other. WRC Developments were also pressing hard too and with JW Bird Motorsport climbing back up the order after their spins during the night and Trojon also on the comeback trail, every team in the top five still had the potential to win with less than six hours left.

Over the next few hours, this remained the status quo with all five teams moving around the top five as the laps and minutes ticked down and pit stops came and went. The race really began to change when WRC Developments suffered a rear suspension failure inside three hours to go from 2nd place, sadly forcing them out in the end. AB Motorsport also copped a penalty for a pitstop infringement, leaving them on the backfoot to recover themselves back into contention and Emax, Trojon and JW Bird now left as the main contenders for victory.

A safety car with just under two and half hours to go put the leading teams on the cusp of making their final pit stops to the end, and it was JW Bird and Emax that both rolled the dice and attempted to fuel to the finish. AB Motorsport were also still in contention but out of sequence for pit stops as they led ahead of a charging Trojon, and made their last pit stop just before 90 minutes to go. 

The tension was only going to get higher as the race entered its final hour with Trojon making their final stop to cover themselves to the end, while Emax were prepared for a final splash of fuel should they need it to make it to the finish. Trojon left their stop just over two minutes behind Emax but with Charlie Bingham at the wheel, he put in a fine final stint to take seconds out of the lead with each lap. The big question on everyone’s lips was simply this – would Emax need to pit one last time?

In the end, they did. With 13 minutes to go, Emax pitted the #346 car for half a churn of fuel and a driver change, and by the time they exited their stop they had retained the lead but only by a couple of seconds from a charging Trojon. Incredibly, Bingham caught James Little on the same lap and made the dive inside at Brooklands to take the lead, but Emax were determined to claw it back. After a couple of laps of circulating together, the defining moment of the race came on the penultimate lap.

Heading into the Arena section, Emax attempted to open the door inside Trojon for a pass, but not being far enough alongside caused them to tag Trojon into a spin as they moved through into the lead as a result. Despite a quick rejoin, Trojon didn’t have enough to catch them again and Emax took the chequered flag first. However, the incident had not gone unnoticed by race control and Emax were in turn hit with a 3 minute penalty for unnecessary contact, enough to demote them off the top step and off the podium entirely.

So, in the end it was Trojon Motorsport who were crowned winners of the 2023 Silverlake C1 24 Hours at Silverstone, courtesy of drivers Jonathan Munday, Chris Freeman, Austin Munday, Charlie Bingham and Adam Willis. JW Bird Motorsport’s 2nd place was just reward for their monumental fight back from as low as 33rd place at one stage after spins during the night, and this was down to the herculean efforts of Phil House, Nick Beaumont, Matthew Wilson and Tony Prendergast. As for the final podium spot, AB Motorsport’s hard charging and solid driving all race helped Ali Bray’s squad pick up 3rd place thanks to Oliver Allwood, Philip Ingram and Stuart Symonds.

Throughout the race, there was plenty of sportsmanship and camaraderie with teams helping others in trouble to fix cars and provide spare parts, showing just how closely knit and well-supported the entire C1 Racing Club paddock really is. We commend every single one of the 51 teams that took part in the event, whatever the outcome for their race, as well as all of our officials, volunteers and marshals for their incredible efforts over the entire weekend from start to finish.

While the C1 Racing Club moves on to its next race of the year at Donington Park in a few weeks’ time, we’re already looking forward to another amazing weekend of endurance racing for the 2024 edition of the Silverlake C1 24 Hours!

Scott Woodwiss


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