The 2021 Goodyear Britcar Endurance championship entered its final round with the championship still to play for. This would also mark the final time in which the Pragas would share the track before heading off to their one-make series for 2022.
Four driver pairings had a mathematical chance of clinching the title entering the final round. Rich Wells claimed pole position for both races this time partnered with team owner, Tim Gray as regular co-driver, Alex Kapadia was on LMP3 duties in Portimao.
Race 1 would see a huge swing in the title battle. Wells spun exiting turn 1 causing Ben Collins behind him to spin in sympathy. The rest of the field did their best to avoid the spinning Pragas but CW Performance could not avoid Collins and made contact, damaging their car in the process. With the top two in the title now facing issues and six Pragas suffering damage, Charlie Martin took over the lead. It was only briefly, though, as a small technical issue saw her drop back into the clutches of Chris Bridle.
From then on things settled down as the drivers got into a rhythm. Jimmy Broadbent pitted at the first possible opportunity to hand over to new co-driver, Gordie Mutch. Regular co-driver, Jem Hepworth drove solo over the course of the weekend but was eliminated in the first corner melay, ending her weekend on the spot.
Witch Mutch’s pace, it looked like he would emerge in the lead but a safety car put pay to that. Chris Bridle and Miles Lacey would pit under the safety car and build a huge gap on Mutch who was stuck behind the Class 4 machinery.
What followed was a masterclass in managing the traffic and pushing to the absolute limit lap after lap as Mutch set about closing the gap to his rivals. With just 13-minutes remaining (already in second place) he made his move around the outside of Lacey into Goddard’s and built up a staggering 21.3-second gap by the time the chequered flag came out.
Race 2 was a much calmer affair. With light fading fast, the 1-hour race was shortened to 40-minutes for a flat-out sprint. Rich Wells made it cleanly around Redgate this time and brilliantly held off challenges from Jimmy Broadbent and the Chris Wesemael / Richard Morris CW Performance Praga.
But like with race 1, Gordie Mutch went on a charge and managed to find his way past Tim Gray with just 5-minutes remaining. He kept the lead until the flag, bringing the car home for his and Broadbent’s second win of the day and the season.
Gray would come home second and after the chaos earlier on in the day, Rich Wells would be crowned Praga champion of 2021.
With only one Class 1 entry in contention for the endurance title, Dave Scaramanga & Will Powell were looking to stay out of trouble throughout Saturday’s action. With mechanical failures/incidents for their main rivals, all they had to do was bring the car home.
They brought the McLaren 650s GT3 home first on the road in both races but a 30-second time penalty in race 1 dropped them to second in class. But this was enough to clinch the endurance title by just three points.
Jonny MacGregor also had a strong day in the custom Taranis clinching a class victory in Race 1 with a second place in Race 2. A great way to end what has been a troubled season for the Britcar veteran.
The ever-popular Richard Wheeler suffered a torrid time as his Nissan developed an electrical fault that prevented the car from accelerating out of slower corners. Having persevered during Race 1 to finish 3rd in class, he would only complete one lap in Race 2 having been unable to resolve the issue before retiring the car to prevent any further damage from being caused.
For the first time in 2021, Class 1 had four entries with Glebs Stepanovs / Stephen Tomkins running their incredible Aston Martin Vulcan. Being an invitational entry, they were ineligible for points but they put on a show with a race-long battle with MacGregor during Race 1 for the overall lead before the pit window opened.
Dave Benett / Marcus Fothergill entered Donington second place in the standings looking to claim the overall endurance title. Luck would not go their way however as an accident during the Race 1 carnage left the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with significant front-end damage and only minimal time to get it fixed.
Jem Hepworth spun heading down the Craner Curves and left Benett with nowhere to go other than into the back of the Praga. Luckily they made it out for Race 2 but would finish five laps down, last of the classified runners. This dropped them from second to equal fifth in the final standings, not how they expected to end the season.
The class victory would actually go the way of Richard Goddard / Charlie Hollings in the RNR Performance Cars Ferrari 458 Challenge despite having been caught up in the first corner mishaps and retiring 15-minutes before the race ended. However, seeing as the remaining class cars had already retired, they won by default.
Race 2 saw the after-effects from the earlier carnage as Mark & Peter Cunningham didn’t start the race and Goddard / Hollings failed to complete a single racing lap. With the Benett / Fothergill Porsche also finishing well down the order it was left to Bon Grimes / Johnny Mowlem to take yet another class victory.
Having also entered Donington as overall title contenders, the damage caused in Race 1 saw an early retirement for the pair and therefore elimination from the title hunt.
The saving grace for Class 3 was the invitational entry of Valluga Motorsport. This time switching their trusty Porsches for a Ferrari 458 Challenge they had a near-perfect weekend. Piloted by team regulars, Carl Cavers / Lewis Plato, they managed to snake through the turn one carnage and remain the only class runner at the finish.
Race 2 they once again finished strongly but this time behind the fellow Ferrari of Grimes / Mowlem. A strong performance considering this was their first appearance in Britcar during the 2021 season.
Despite a troubled weekend, Benett / Fothergill clinched the class title by just four points from the Grimes / Mowlem Ferrari.
The final title contenders could be found in Class 4. Hugo Cook / Sacha Kakad remained in the hunt due to their sheer consistency over the course of the season. However, if it could go wrong, it did go wrong for the Simpson Motorsport pairing.
Practice saw just three laps before the brakes caught fire, ending their session prematurely. Qualifying saw an off down at the Melbourne Hairpin, leading to a red flag and the races themselves led to a combined twelve laps. An absolutely disastrous way to end what had been a great season.
Race 1 was claimed by a familiar face in Peter Erceg in his PB Racing Porsche Cayman 981 GT4 MR. Sheard Autosport came home second courtesy of Jonathan Beeson / George Heler with EDF Motorsport’s Ash Woodman / Martin Byford rounding out the top three.
This result thrust Erceg up into second place in the overall points with EDF following close behind in third.
Race 2 saw a stunning performance from endurance category debutant, Jamie Vinall-Meyer. Having only completed a handful of laps in the Ligier JS2-R prior to the weekend, he put in an incredible performance to pull out a huge lead and set the fastest lap of the race (in class) in the process.
When fellow endurance debutant, Charlotte Birch, took over they remained in the lead and would hold onto it when the chequered flag flew. A popular result within the series seeing as the Ligier was heavily damaged in the season opener at Silverstone.
CTR-Alfatune’s Alex Day / William Foster brought their Cupra TCR home in second after putting on a great display for the fans with red hot glowing brakes whilst Team BRIT rounded out their season with a third-place finish for Bobby Trundley / Aaron Morgan before the outfit expands into British GT for 2022.
Erceg led home the EDF Cupra to clinch the class title by eight points whilst both held onto second and third places overall.
Britcar resumes in 2022 as the British Endurance Championship with the season commencing on 12th March at Silverstone with a two-hour race.
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