The fourth round of the 2023 British Endurance Championship season saw the circus visit Silverstone for the second of two visits. Unlike last time, this event would feature a two-hour race giving the teams less opportunity for mistakes.
Class A once again saw two familiar entries go head to head. The Venture Innovations Aston Martin Vulcan put on another strong performance managing to come within a second of the overall pole position time. A pole position time that was ultimately set by the all-conquering PB Racing Audi R8 GT3 EvoII of Peter Erceg and Marcus Clutton.
A position in fact they would hold for the entire duration of the race. Erceg put in a stellar performance to pull two laps on Glebs Stepanovs in the Vulcan, a margin the Audi would keep until the chequered flag marking three victories in a row for the New Zealander.
Unfortunately for Stepanovs and co-driver Steven Tomkins, apparent overheating issues brought their day to an end with just 30 minutes remaining having been running in a comfortable second position.
Silverstone saw an influx of entries for Class B with no fewer than four cars starting the race.
John Seale and Jamie Stanely returned after a tricky start to their campaign with the RNR Performance Cars Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo. They would be joined by two Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evos. The first comes from MTech who have previous experience within the BEC and drivers Dominic Malone and Jonny Heynes. The second entry comes courtesy of Scott Sport with Keith Frieser partnering with 2018 GT Open champion, Mikkel Mac who himself had never driven the Huracan Super Trofeo.
The final entrant was Sam Allpass in his BMW M3 GTR Silhouette who has previously raced his fearsome machine around Silverstone.
At the start, it was Malone who got the jump and ran strongly until car issues plagued the final stint of the race once Heynes had taken the wheel.
John Seale meanwhile had managed to keep out of trouble in the Ferrari but as with his last appearance at Silverstone, a power steering failure after 30 minutes put the car out of action once again, a tough break on his return to the championship.
Allpass was making the most of his competitor’s issues and was even running an impressive second overall at one stage during the mandatory pit window ahead of both Heynes and Frieser in their raging bulls.
However, it wouldn’t be long before it was Sam’s turn to hit trouble. The BMW began rapidly losing pace heading towards retirement and then to add insult to injury, a drive-through penalty was awarded. Alpass gamely served the penalty and promptly brought the car back in for his eventual retirement from the race. Overheating and braking issues ultimately being the cause.
This left Mikkel Mac clear to work his magic on Silverstone and once the pitstops and retirements had sequenced out, he ran in a comfortable second position and was ultimately lapping within 3 seconds of Marcus Clutton in a GT3 car, not a bad effort from a Super Trofeo.
Frieser and Mac finished second overall and comfortably won their class after a race of attrition affected their class rivals.
Class C once again saw three runners however this time without the RNR Performance Cars Ferrari 458 Challenge. A substantial accident at Oulton Park for Charlie Hand has left the car worse for wear and even left Hand with a fractured vertebra. He hopes to be back in action for the Donington Park finale providing his recovery goes to plan.
The usual Team HARD suspects appeared once again with the championship-leading Daryl de Leon / Brad Thurston Porsche set to pull off yet another giant-killing performance. The sister NGTC Spec Audi S3 was replaced with a former BTCC NGTC VW Passat for Maurice Henry and Paul Curran.
Thurston took the start in his Porsche and ran early on with the Class B runners both before and after the lap one safety car. Ultimately, he and co-driver de Leon would never be headed by the SW Racing Porsche 997 Cup Car of Mark and Peter Cunningham. The bright yellow Britcar regulars making their second start of what has been a successful season for the father-son pairing.
The Cunninghams meanwhile ran in a comfortable second place with no challenge from the BTCC VW behind but did manage to finish off with a last lap tussle with Matt George in the Venture Innovations Mercedes-AMG GT4. Despite no points being on offer for the overtake, George defended the outside after hitting the brakes incredibly late and pinned Cunningham to the very inside into Brooklands. But Cunningham still lunged up the inside of the Mercedes but ran wide, picked up the dirty side of the track and looped his Porsche right in front of George who expertly managed to avoid contact on the final corner of the race. No harm was done and both took the finish just moments later.
The VW rounded out the class podium but was well off the pace of the two GT cars ahead, which was also compounded by having to push the car into the garage to refuel during each pitstop, costing further valuable time to the faster machines in front.
Class D saw an extra entry for Silverstone with the return of the ever-popular KTM X-Bow GT4 from Track Focused. With the car not having raced since the 2019 British GT Championship, all eyes were on the Austrian machine to see how it performed upon its racing comeback.
A pitlane start soon became the class lead as Mike McCollum scythed his way through the pack in the X-Bow. A charge that was aided by a first-lap safety car courtesy of Ameerh Naran and Ash Woodman colliding in their respective entries.
Once McCollum pitted to hand over to Sean Cooper, their race started to unravel slightly. The pro entries in the two cars behind quickly set about charging up to the back of the KTM and it wasn’t long before Matt George in the Venture Innovations Mercedes-AMG GT4 made his move and took the class lead. From then on it was an uneventful run to the flag despite the aforementioned last-lap tussle with the SW Racing Porsche.
Meanwhile, further back, Stuart Hall in the MKH Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 was rapidly closing on Cooper, lapping up to 2 seconds faster than the KTM. It would take until the very final lap for Hall to come into striking distance, but he did and he wasted no time in moving ahead of Cooper. A defensive entry into Abbey compromised the KTM and allowed Hall to power around the outside of Farm and complete the move on the brakes into Village corner. The gap at the line would ultimately be 1.7 seconds but 45 seconds behind the class-winning Mercedes.
Class E (TCR)
Unfortunately for the Class E runners, it was quite a truncated race for the endurance specification touring cars. A first-lap spin by Ameerh Naran caught out Ash Woodman in his EDF Motorsports Cupra Competition TCR, ending his race on the spot in what has been a difficult season for the reigning class champions.
This left the sister Cupra of Nick Hull and Richard Avery to battle the all-conquering Audi RS3 of Jonathan Beeson and Geroge Heler.
However, at half distance, a misfire developed within the Audi, dropping them a lap behind the now class-leading Cupra.
Luckily there were no further dramas and the Hull / Avery Cupra crossed the line to take their first-class victory of the season in stark contrast to their last visit to Silverstone where the car failed to take the start.
The Audi came home second in class without losing any further time whilst Woodman rounded out the three-car entry.
Newbarn Racing once again ran their homebrew Jaguar F-Type in Class F and pulled off their best performance of the season so far.
Finishing an impressive eleventh position overall and ahead of all of the Class E TCR runners is no mean feat in a car which has proved troublesome to say the least.
As with Oulton Park, Class G saw SVG Motorsport go to battle with MacG Racing in their Ginetta G55 Supercup cars.
However, this time it was MacG who had the upper hand. Scoring the class pole in qualifying, they led from lights to flag and were never headed by their rivals. Jonny MacGregor and Josh Tomlinson earned the Britcar outstanding achievement award as a result of their strong performance throughout the day.
The SVG car meanwhile had gone through a lineup change prior to Silverstone. Scott Symons made way for Ginetta racer, Marc Elman who made his first appearance outside of a Ginetta-backed championship. Owen Hizzey remained as the pro driver in the pro-am lineup.
The penultimate round of the 2023 British Endurance Championship comes from the rapid Snetterton 300 circuit on the 16th of September.
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