The new for 2022 British Endurance Championship (BEC) saw 27 cars take the green flag for the season opener at Silverstone. A new format featuring one longer race tested the team’s reliability to the max. After three hours of intense racing, a new team took victory in an ominous display for the rest of the field.
Six entries marked the largest top-class entry in years for the BEC. A damp qualifying saw a mixed-up grid with many race favourites stuck down in the midfield after impressive performances from the Class C runners.
It was the Venture Innovations Aston Martin Vulcan that claimed the highest starting spot in class with third position with the Rob Boston Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 just 0.2-seconds further back in fourth.
Drama struck the class even before the race got underway. Reigning Britcar champions, Will Powell and Dave Scaramanga had to withdraw their Motus One McLaren 650s GT3 after steering rack issues were discovered, a major blow to their title defence.
Meanwhile, at the race start, it was Glebs Stepanovs in the Vulcan who stormed into the overall lead, albeit briefly as the fast-starting Lee Frost stormed through to take a 1.5-second advantage in the RaceLab Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
From then on Frost and co-driver, Lucky Khera went unchallenged and finished a lap clear of second-placed Stepanovs who along with regular co-driver, Steve Tomkins, pulled off an impressive performance in the Vulcan’s full season race debut.
Third in class was the returning ING Sport BMW Z4 GT3 of Ian Lawson and the hugely experienced (and current Britcar Trophy champion) Kevin Clarke. A pit lane start to avoid any potential first lap chaos saw Lawson do early battle with class rivals, Wayne Marrs and Ben Sharich who both also opted for a pitlane start for the same reason.
It was a relatively calm race for the BMW pairing as they quietly made progress, securing a class podium in the process with third in class and fourth overall.
The Rob Boston Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 and the MacG Taranis both failed to finish due to technical issues with their respective cars. The Taranis had electrical gremlins which completely shut the car down after their first driver change.
Meanwhile, once Tom Jackson took over from Wayne Marrs in the Mercedes, he closed in on the leading Lamborghini only to retire at two-thirds distance with an alternator failure. The only consolation from their race being that they claimed the fastest lap and had impressive race pace compared to their class rivals. One to look out for.
The ever-impressive Jamie Stanley qualified the FF Corse Ferrari 488 Challenge on outright pole position with his nearest class contender starting down in 12th-place.
Only three cars started the race within this class after seven appeared on the entry list.
Unfortunately, the Scott Sport Mosler blew an engine during Friday’s test session and therefore withdrew. The Angus Fender Viper was sent home after being too loud and budget issues for drivers meant Stanbridge Motorsport only ran one car instead of the planned two.
The other entry was the Woodrow Motorsport BMW which ultimately was placed within Class C to allow it to be more competitive within the race.
John Seale made his racing return alongside Stanley in the Ferrari and would start the race. A solid first stint was ruined after a long first pitstop after a brake change was required due to excessive wear.
This left the brand new team of Bovet Racing to perform what could be the best comeback drive of the season. With Claude Bovet starting the race in his Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo, he dropped behind the pitlane starters in an understandably cautious approach. However, once David MacDonald took over, the body language of the car changed dramatically. Hopping the kerbs and testing the track limits saw the Huracan move swiftly up the order into third place overall, where they would finish the race.
MacDonald earned himself the Sunoco Driver of the Day award and set the second-fastest lap of the race in the process.
Seale and Stanley luckily avoided any further drama and brought the Ferrari home second in class.
Stanbridge came home in a distant third in class after coil pack issues meant it was more of a bring the car home effort than a full-on attack.
Six entries in Class C allowed for a competitive race between three hugely impressive entries.
Peter Erceg at the last moment purchased a Porsche 991.2 Cup Car which he would share with British GT race winner, Marcus Clutton. It turned out to be a good decision as Clutton steered the car to second overall on the grid and first in class.
Their pace was such that they consistently lapped just one-second a lap slower than the race leader despite being in a Porsche Cup Car. The car is not equipped with a quick refuelling system which meant that every time the car needed to take on more fuel, a trip back into the garage was necessary, costing valuable time to their closest rivals.
Second in Class was the Italian liveried Ferrari 458 Challenge of Carl Cavers and Lewis Plato. The Valluga Racing pairing had an uneventful race but ended up as the best-placed Ferrari in the race finishing in sixth place overall.
Third in class just 20-seconds behind the Valluga Ferrari was the RNR Performance Cars Ferrari 458 Challenge. A first lap scuffle with the McAleer Porsche saw an early visit to the pits for an inspection with a clean run to the flag thereafter.
A dramatic finish for Class D gave Team BRIT the first victory with their new driver lineup. Despite finishing third on the road, pitlane speeding penalties for the T7 Motorsport Aston Martin and the Valluga Racing Porsche Cayman left the deep purple Team BRIT Aston Martin at the head of the standings.
Andy Tucker put up a valiant effort to withstand the pressure from the faster cars behind but prior knowledge of their penalties meant he didn’t have to take any unnecessary risks.
Former WEC champion, Stuart Hall was behind the wheel of the T7 Motorsport Aston Martin and he certainly gave it his all to overcome the penalty coming up just 2.2-seconds short.
The Valluga Porsche of Jake and James Little wasn’t quite so lucky with their penalty and dropped behind the third-placed Team HARD Ginetta G55 of Josh Hislop, Ray Harris and Michael McPherson who were all making their GT4 debuts.
The only safety car of the race was caused by the fifth-placed finisher in Class D. Father-son duo, Mark and Dale Albutt came to a stop on the Wellington straight on the first lap of the race leading to a two-lap safety car intervention. They managed to get back into the race but ultimately ended up 6-laps down on the class leader.
EDF Motorsport took delivery of a brand new Cupra Leon TCR for the new season with the car arriving back in the UK just a week before the race itself. This didn’t harm the team’s preparation as the plain white car took the victory.
The unchanged lineup of Ash Woodman and Martin Byford will be tough to beat as they fought to second in Class 4 last season.
They didn’t have things quite their own way though. The Paul Sheard Autosport VW Golf pulled out its most impressive performance to date and even ran in the top-10 at the end of the first lap.
In the end, they couldn’t match up to the sheer pace of Byford in the new Cupra and finished a lap behind them in second place.
Slightly further down the order came the third-placed car of Anton Spires and Stewart Lines. The Motus One entered Golf chose to start from the pits and recovered the deficit well to finish a lap ahead of their nearest contender.
EDF Motorsports’ second car of Nick Hull / Richard Avery clinched fourth whilst Alex Day / William Foster rounded out the top five.
It wasn’t the debut Dragon Sport by Amigo were looking for. A driveshaft failure on the formation lap put pay to any chances they had of winning. Although the team fixed the issue, they were already laps down. Promising pace proved that they are also ones to watch out for later in the season.
Class F saw only two runners, one of which retired from competition after just twelve laps.
Moving up from the Petro-Canada Lubricants Porsche Club Championship were Mark and Jake McAleer. Their Porsche 997 GT3 sounded fantastic on track and proved the faster of the two-class competitors.
They would take a comfortable victory finishing in 20th-position overall whilst Newbarn Racing’s day didn’t go quite to plan.
The historically unreliable Jaguar F-Type suffered yet more reliability issues as a driveshaft failure struck after just 12-laps, prematurely ending their race.
The British Endurance Championship resumes in three weeks’ time at Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire. This time for a 2-hour spectacle around the picturesque circuit.
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