Last weekend hosted the final event of the 2021 Britcar Trophy season. A pair of non-championship ‘Into The Night’ races held on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit saw plenty of drama as the darkness coupled with a greasy track caught out the drivers.
The event was open for Endurance category Class 4 cars and all Trophy categories with Trophy cars making up the majority of the grid. Valluga Motorsport broke out their two Porsche Cayman GT4’s whilst Motus One fielded a Hyundai i30 N TCR. Unfortunately, the Hyundai wouldn’t make it past free practice as an off for Nicole Drought saw extensive damage to the front left of the car which led to their withdrawal from the weekend.
Carl Cavers would lead off from pole position in the first of the Valluga Porsches but it was teammate Benji Hetherington who got the jump at the start and launched into the lead.
Everyone made it around the compact first lap without incident but it wasn’t long before trouble struck. Bryan Bransom suffered a left front suspension failure on his BMW M3 heading into Graham Hill bend on lap three, narrowly missing the barriers but he would go no further, deploying the safety car in the process.
With one BMW down another was making serious progress. Late entrant, Niall Bradley started from the pitlane and just before the safety car made a stunning maneuver to pass four cars along the main straight and slot into seventh position.
With the race underway again, Cavers reassumed the lead but not for long. A stop-go penalty for a race start infringement dropped him to the back of the field but moments later, Sam Allpass stopped out on track in his BMW leading to the second safety car intervention of the race.
With the fellow Porsche out of the way, Hetherington stormed off into a comfortable lead whilst Cavers scythed his way through the slower traffic performing an audacious maneuver to overtake four cars at once, just like Bradley.
Bradley himself had passed Eric Boulton in the Team HARD Ginetta G55 to move into second overall which would then become the overall lead when Hetherington pitted to hand over to Ian Humphris.
Meanwhile, further back saw an intense battle forming between Jamie Going in his Jamsport Fiesta, James Alford in the Saxon Motorsport VW Golf, Anton Spires in his Renault Clio, and Dave Cox in the WEC Motorsport BMW M3.
Cox would get the upper hand initially as Going dived into the pits having run side by side with Alford. But miscommunication, when the BMW driver decided to enter the pits, saw Spires run into the back of the BMW causing front end damage to the Clio which would ultimately end his race.
With the pit window now over, things settled down as the drivers set about chasing down class victories with just 20-minutes to go.
But just as it looked like there would be a green flag run to the finish, Kurt Leimer spun in the Reflex Racing Ginetta G40 beaching himself in the gravel at Clearways.
By this point, Sean Doyle had taken over from Cavers and was right on the tail of Bradley for second place. But just as he was lining up his move, the safety car was deployed for the stricken Ginetta.
The race then resumed with 5-minutes remaining. If Doyle wanted any chance to win then he would have to make his move on Bradley immediately. And that was exactly what he did.
A divebomb into Paddock Hill saw him overtake the BMW driver but he braked far too late and ran wide into the gravel and nudged the barriers, breaking the steering column in the process. Not only did this end his race but it ended everyone else’s as the red flags were displayed with the officials putting an end to the incident-packed race.
As a result, Hetherington / Humphris claimed victory with Bradley in second whilst Doyle / Cavers would take third with the results being taken a lap prior to the red flag.
After the chaotic first race, race 2 was set to go the same way after a heavy downpour soaked the track just an hour before.
The Cavers / Doyle car suffered a broken steering column in their off-track excursion at the end of race one and as a result, was withdrawn from the weekend.
As only one car was running, the two AM drivers took the wheel (Humphris / Cavers) as they set about sweeping the weekend.
They started the race in the best possible way by retaining the lead through the first lap and would keep it through to the mandatory pitstop window such was the pace of the Cayman.
Behind, second-placed starter Bradley struggled in the damp conditions. Having been a late entrant, he only brought dry weather tires with him and would drop to eighth place by the chequered flag.
Also suffering in the tricky conditions was Team HARD’s Eric Boulton who spun off in the early stages down at Clearways. This brought out the only safety car of the race whilst the beached Ginetta was recovered.
At the restart, the Porsche would streak clear once again but the main battle was for second place. Steve Rothery in his Peugeot 308 Racing Cup had his mirrors full of the repaired BMW of Bryan Bransom. Both were lapping with similar times whilst running just a second apart.
It wouldn’t be long before Bransom made his move, launching it into Paddock Hill to take over second place.
The pitstop window saw Humphris come in with a 22-second lead over Bransom but this was the turning point in the race. Having handed over to their respective co-drivers, both cars were awarded stop/go penalties for pitstop infringements.
Cavers (having taken over from Humphris), would receive the news with just 9-minutes remaining, and with Jasver Sapra (who took over from Bransom) out of the picture after a second stop/go penalty, it was Steve Rothery who claimed the lead with which he would hold to the flag, claiming his first victory of the season.
Cavers fought valiantly but could only close the gap to 6-seconds by the time the clock ticked to zero. Third place went the way of Anton Spires in the Clio who had a quiet race picking up the pieces after others’ misfortune. Not only did he score an outright podium position but he was awarded Britcar driver of the day after a stellar performance.
Britcar returns as the British Endurance Championship on the 12th March at Silverstone Circuit for a 2-hour endurance battle.
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