Round three of the 2023 Goodyear British Endurance Championship came from a sweltering Oulton Park in the north of England.
The tough conditions didn’t phase the PB Racing Audi R8 GT3 EvoII as they clinched a second consecutive outright victory after a thrilling battle with the rebuilt Aston Martin Vulcan from Venture Innovations.
The second and final three-hour race of the season saw a slightly diminished entry however, reliability was strong and only five cars failed to finish. And as with the season opener at Silverstone, three mandatory pitstops would be required throughout the pitstop window which opens after the first 20 minutes.
The two Class A entrants went hammer and tong throughout the first two hours with the Aston Martin Vulcan showing impressive pace after their troubles last time out at Brands Hatch.
Whilst Peter Erceg pulled an early lead in his PB Racing Audi, Glebs Stepanovs ran second early on but came under increasing pressure from youngster Daryl de Leon in the Class C Team HARD Porsche 991.1 Cup Car. Stepanovs managed to keep the youngster at bay and handed over to co-driver, Stephen Tomkins in second place.
From then on there was no catching the Audi as it stretched its lead to a 2-lap advantage over the Vulcan and maintained its advantage to clinch its second consecutive victory.
However, there was a small scare when Bentley pitted for the fourth time with just 30 minutes to go luckily however, this turned out to be a scheduled stop to allow Erceg to bring the car home and not a late-race issue.
Stepanovs and Tomkins meanwhile also had a treacherous run to the flag as with 45 minutes remaining, smoke was spotted coming from the left rear corner of the chameleon machine. Whilst the cause remains unknown, the pace dropped off slightly but Tomkins was able to nurse the car home to second position in class and overall.
Class C was dealt an early blow when the RNR Performance Cars Ferrari 458 Challenge suffered a heavy collision during morning practice, ending its day on the spot.
Team HARD meanwhile ran two cars once again but the usual BTCC Audi had been replaced with a Honda Civic FK8 Type R in an unusual move. However, this particular car only completed four laps before retiring paving the way for the sister car to take an easy victory.
The Brands Hatch class-winning Porsche 911 991.1 Cup Car was once again piloted by Brad Thurston and Daryl de Leon but this time around they were joined by Carrera Cup North America front-runner, Alex Sedgwick. The trio were able to cruise to an easy class victory but narrowly missed out on an overall podium finishing a lap down on the Venture Innovations Mercedes AMG GT4 after being passed by the Mercedes with 20-minutes to go.
The Porsche seemingly struggling with brake troubles having run through the Hislops chicane on three separate occasions within the final hour. This accompanied by a 12-second stop/go penalty for a short pitstop cost them further ground to the Mercedes before being lapped by Erceg on the penultimate lap of the race to fall a further lap behind.
Despite this, another solid haul of points for the Porsche sees the team move up further in the overall standings.
The four Class D entries all headed into Oulton Park with a chance to clinch that all-important class victory.
Team BRIT once again impressed in their McLaren 570s GT4 with yet another class pole position but would ultimately fall back as the race progressed. An early pitstop for Bobby Trundley who raced in place of James Whitley cost the car too much time when the second safety car of the race was deployed for the stricken TCR Cupra.
When Matt George took over the Venture Innovations Mercedes-AMG GT4 for the final stint, he was already a lap clear of Tom Jackson in the Breakell Racing Mercedes and maintained that advantage to the flag. In the process, he managed to pass the Team HARD Porsche around the outside of the Shell Oils Hairpin and snatch third place away in the final hour of the race.
Tom Jackson brought his car home in second whilst the battle for the final spot on the class podium was really hotting up.
The MKH Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Peter Montague and Dan Brown and had caught the Team BRIT McLaren and was all over the rear of the 570s GT4. They even resorted to the Nordschleife technique of the pass on the grass to get through on the run-up Clay Hill with Tom Jackson in the second-placed Breakell car just sitting behind them a lap clear of the battling pair.
Class E (TCR)
TCR became a race of attrition with all but one of the runners having some form of car troubles throughout the 3 hours.
EDF Motorsport suffered a major blow as the championship-leading #60 Cupra of Ash Woodman and Martin Byford was wheeled into the pitlane just before the commencement of the formation lap.
The sister car of Nick Hull and Richard Avery meanwhile didn’t fare much better as a number of issues (including a brake disc fire) stranded the car in the pits for the majority of the race before rejoining 54 laps down with 57 minutes remaining. Just 15 minutes in and the troubles started as they pulled over exiting the Brittens chicane bringing out the first safety car of the race, before getting underway again.
A new entry for Oulton Park came the way of TCR UK runners, Steven Gales and Brad Hutchinson in the Bond It with MPH Racing Cupra TCR. Whilst the pace was there, the front right wheel was not. The wheel parted company with the car at the one-sixth mark just as the car was awarded a drive-through penalty for a pitlane infringement. This brought out the second and final safety car of the race whilst the stricken Cupra was retrieved.
This left the sole remaining TCR runner of Paul Sheard Autosport in their Gen-2 Audi RS3 TCR to take their first victory of the season after a disappointing Brands Hatch left them wanting more.
The Newbarn Racing Jaguar F-Type once again started the race as the only Class F runner but that didn’t stop them from pushing as the team adapt to their new V8 engine.
Unfortunately for the family-run team, an off at Druids and an earlier fuel lead cost them valuable track time as the resultant repairs kept the car in the pits for longer than they would have liked.
Despite this, their fastest lap time was only 1 second slower than the fastest Class G lap time for Ginetta G55 Supercup cars with the drivers singing the car’s praises as they finally get on top of their home-built creation.
Class G gained an entry for Oulton Park with MacG Racing stepping up with their own Ginetta G55 Supercup car. Jonny MacGregor once again takes the wheel, this time with his regular Britcar Trophy co-driver, Josh Tomlinson.
The regular SVG car meanwhile got the jump at the start and led proceedings through the early stages. Scott Symons then spun exiting the first corner with MacGregor right behind him. Unfortunately for both cars, slight contact was made with MacG stalling before both cars pulled away safely and miraculously undamaged.
But things would get worse for SVG as they picked up a drive-through penalty for refuelling under the safety car. A practice which is strictly forbidden within the Britcar regulations.
Fortunately for them, it wouldn’t cost them the race as their rivals would retire just past the halfway mark due to heard bolts from the right rear hub assembly being the culprit.
Owen Hizzey took control of the SVG car from Symons to take class honours and ninth place overall.
The fourth round of the 2023 British Endurance Championship comes from the Silverstone GP circuit on the 24th of June.
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