The 2024 British Endurance Championship season kicked off at Donington Park for the first 2-hour race of the year. With reigning champions, Team HARD electing not to return to the championship, it provides an open playing field for a new batch of competitors to establish their names in British motorsport.

18 cars were originally scheduled to compete in the season opener however a few incidents meant certain cars withdrew from the event prior to Friday’s running.

Most notably was Witt Gamski in the MCJ Bentley Continental GT3 who suffered a testing crash in the lead-up to Donington with the damage not repairable prior to the season opener. Also absent was the SVG Racing BMW M4 GT4 which also suffered a crash in testing, albeit on the day before the race leaving no time for sufficient repairs.

Overall, 15 cars took to the track for the 2-hour race with Peter Erceg continuing his win streak from last season in the PB Racing Audi R8 GT3 EvoII.

Class A

Despite the loss of the Bentley, Class A has gained a new competitor for the all-dominant PB Racing Audi. JMH Automotive returned to the championship with John Seale and Jamie Stanley once again behind the wheel of their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

Erceg got the first blow with pole position in qualifying and led the field to the green flag. Seale initially held back by a few seconds but then a slight rain shower dampened the track and the elder statesmen closed in on the Audi. But once the rain stopped, the track quickly dried and Erceg pulled the pin to build a 50-second gap to Seale by the 55-minute mark in the race.

At this exact moment, Seale peeled into the pits for his first of two mandatory stops and handed the car over to Jamie Stanley for what would be the remainder of the race.

Stanley had a huge gap to close and it would be no easy feat as PB Racing had drafted in a replacement for the absent Marcus Clutton. Young superstar and former BEC race winner, Hugo Cook made his return to the championship in place of Clutton who was on British GT duties. Despite not having driven the car all day, Cook was immediately up to speed and lapping comparably with Stanley who was pushing to the absolute limit, and beyond.

This exuberant driving earned him the attention of the stewards who handed the Lamborghini driver a stop/go penalty for exceeding track limits. This penalty all but ended Stanley’s chances of challenging for victory and it was Cook who brought the Audi home despite a late race downpour to continue Erceg’s win streak from 2023.

Class B

Only one car entered into Class B for Donington. Nick Hull and Richard Avery returned to the championship but with very different machinery this year. Switching from their Cupra TCR which handed them multiple victories last season into a Porsche 911 992 Carrera Cup Car.

Being their first race in the new car, both Hull and Avery suffered spins in the latter stages of their stints which dropped them back through the field with the late rain shower really costing them time in the tricky rear-engined machine.

Fortunately for both, they did reach the finish and in tenth place giving them their first top 10 in the new car on debut.

Class C

As with Class B, only one car appeared in Class C although it’s a car Britcar fans will recognize. Having last competed in the championship back in 2021, Bonamy Grimes and Johnny Mowlem return for another assault on the title with their FF Corse-prepared Ferrari 458 Challenge.

A strong qualifying left them third on the overall grid and they would maintain position throughout the entirety of the race. Right up until 20-minutes remained when a mechanical failure on the car saw Mowlem pit and retire from what would have been an outright podium position.

There is no doubt that the speed is still there for the experienced duo, but retirements this early into the season have already dented their title aspirations.

Class D

Featuring only homologated GT4 machinery, five cars from five different manufacturers battled it out in what is fast becoming the most popular form of GT racing.

Team BRIT return for a full season with Aaron Morgan and Paul Fullick steering the purple McLaren 570s GT4. Fullick was part of the lineup during last year’s Donington finale and stunned everyone by putting his McLaren in outright pole position.

The pairing wasn’t quite so lucky this time around as the dry conditions favoured the faster GT3 machinery but pole in class by 0.9 seconds is still an ominous sign for their competition.

Unfortunately, the race didn’t go quite to plan for the popular outfit as during Paul Fullick’s stint the brakes failed and the car was spat into the gravel with just 15 minutes remaining. He was pushing hard at the time to catch class leader Josh Steed in the Xentek Porsche Cayman GT4 but ultimately the car just couldn’t hold on for the full duration.

Steed meanwhile marked his full-time racing return with a dominant stint to take the class lead and bring the car home first in class and third overall. A great effort for the GT4 pairing. Steed himself is no slouch having won the Ginetta GT5 championship back in 2021 with co-driver Bal Sidhu has four seasons of experience racing Ginetta’s in the UK.

Second in class went the way of the KTM X-Bow of Track Focused’s Mike McCollum and Sean Cooper who mount a full season assault after last year’s part season with the returning Breakell Racing Mercedes in third.

A new driver lineup for Breakell in 2024

Class E

With last season’s runners moving into different classes, Class E saw a completely new lineup with three entries for Donington.

Over the winter, MacG Racing merged with Race Car Experiences (formerly run by Team HARD) to take over running of the BTCC Mercedes A-Class which moves from its former position in Class C.

The main competition came from the JabbaSport Cupra TCR of Simon Mason and Chris Bialan who also featured during last year’s season finale.

It was a closely-fought battle between the two but it looked like the race would end early for the Mercedes. Smoke was spotted coming from the left rear of the car on multiple occasions. Yet nothing seemed to slow Paul Curran in the ex-BTCC machine. Ultimately it turned out to be the tyre catching on the arch which wouldn’t cause any further drama throughout the remainder of the race, leading them to class victory.

However, class rivals Mason and Bialian were not so lucky. Damage sustained during practice earlier in the day came back to haunt the team as they lost 18 laps to Curran fixing the broken suspension but did make it back onto the track to take the chequered flag.

Class F

The weekend didn’t start in the best of ways for the Newbarn Racing Jaguar F-Type. The power from the LS3 Chevrolet V8 snapped an input shaft during Thursday’s practice but the team pulled out all the stops to get the new parts needed and fitted before Friday’s action began.

Chris Murphy also joins the fray in his monstrous BMW M3 GTR to provide what is set to be a close battle in Class F.

For Donington, Murphy got the upper hand with class pole position and ultimately the class victory with an extremely consistent performance to take fifth place overall.

Newbarn meanwhile earned their best-ever overall result with eighth place and second in class. The Jaguar completed a faultless run to the flag with the ever-troublesome reliability issues seemingly fixed.

Class G

Class G suffered a bit of a blow after Friday’s practice as the SVG Motorsport Ginetta of Marc Elman and Harry Hickton withdrew from the race after suffering damage that could not be safely fixed at the track.

This left Ray Harris in his own Ginetta G55 Supercup car to battle it out with MacG Racings Jonny MacGregor and Arthur Simondet who moves over from the C1 Endurance Championship.

Qualifying went the way of Harris and he continued this form into the early stages of the race before a drive-through penalty dropped him down the order.

He later managed to retake the lead from MacGregor but a delay during his final mandatory stop cost him two laps to his MacG rivals and gifted the victory to MacGregor and Simondet. Harris did manage to claim the fastest lap in class which was ultimately faster than all of the Class D runners, an impressive feat in the Ginetta.

The next round of the 2024 British Endurance Championship takes place on the 13th of April at Snetterton Circuit for the first of two visits to the Norfolk venue.


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