EVENT: Britcar 24hr Endurance Race – Silverstone

Posted: October 4, 2010 in Motorsport

24 hours, 1 day, 1,440 Minutes, 86,400 seconds, however you look at it, 24 hours is a long time. Imagine starting something right now, and finishing it 24 hours from now, in fact set an alarm on your phone to remind you when 24 hours is up because you’re bound to forget and when that alarm goes off imagine that thing you were doing was racing a car….

The premise is fairly simple, 1 car, two, three or four drivers, 24 hours constant racing round the Silverstone circuit; the outcome is fantastic! Being our first Britcar and first ever endurance race we weren’t sure what to expect, the word ‘bored’ was even mentioned, but that soon went straight out the window once the racing began!

A pre-race walk round the pit lane showed the huge variety of vehicles that would be taking on what I consider to be the ultimate challenge in motorsport, from the race-proven Moslers, Ferraris, Porsche 911 GT3s and Lotus Exiges through to BMW M3s, Civic Type Rs, Escort Cosworths, Volkswagen Golfs, Seat Leons and even a Honda Jazz!

Britcar 24hr Start

The race began at 4.30pm on Saturday afternoon, a great time to start such an event as it gives teams time to get used to the car and get settled into the race before the night time fell, meaning for 12 hours of the race not only did the drivers have to contend with 70 other vehicles and a tough demanding track, but they also had to deal with the weather the night brought, and on this occasion it included dry conditions, rain, heavy rain, wind and then about 4am heavy mist and fog! At one point during our odd 5 or 10 mins of sleep, up in the Grandstand opposing the pit lane, an hour and a half safety car period was called to keep the cars running safely during the foggy conditions.

Night time racing is fantastic, the noise seems amplified, the time ticks on and the cars, only identifiable at times by their light set ups, coloured LEDs or the glowing numbers on the doors, kept pounding round, the pit crews were kept on their toes by cars coming in for fuelling and driver changes as well as the unfortunate few who came in on recovery trucks after slight comings together or mechanical failings.

That said, the mechanics were scared of nothing, with only 8 retirements out of the whole field, notable ones included the early pace setter the Aquilla CR1, whose drivers included ex BTCC star Kelvin Burt and current WTCC driver Rob Huff, Rollcenter Racing’s Mosler also retired after 179 laps, also including a current BTCC driver, this time Andy Neate and in the garage directly opposite us the guys at BPM Racing tried for about 4 hours to correct an ECU fault on their Seat Leon before closing the garage door around 5am.

Winner; Ferrari 430

As the daylight broke it left us with 9 hours of racing still to go and the laps ramped up as did the ongoing battle between cars in all 4 of the classes, with the 2 overall lead cars at one point being separated by only 3 cars. The night stint had caused a nice pile of used wet tyres, and empty drums of race-fuel which the teams were going through in 200ltr drums at a time.

The weather remained a problem with wet tyres being the order of the day and the standing water caused a few of the drivers to be caught out, with gaffer tape and replacement panels appearing on the majority of the cars left out on the track, and the conditions weren’t great for the spectators either; waterproofs and umbrellas were a useful tool, but nothing could dampen our spirits, our main photographer, Coop, even managed to watch over an hour of pace car laps whilst the rest of us grabbed odd bits of sleep!

It really has to be on your list of experiences to try out, the feeling of watching these cars really makes you feel part of it, and by the end we got to know all kinds of useless information, we felt familiar with the cars, the drivers and the pit strategies and found ourselves even noticing when cars were missing or running slow laps! The night you do need to be prepared for however, if you really want to experience the event as we did, sleep is a few minutes grabbed on the hard wooden floor of a Grandstand, food comes in the form of soup and Pot noodles (Sticky Rib, Chicken & Mushroom and Beef & Tomato for those interested) and copious amounts of energy drink from Rockstar, Monster, Emerge, KX, Red Bull and Relentless!

Porsche 996

Back to the racing, the overall win was taken by the class 1 Ferrari F430 (Car #8) of Witt Gamski, Keith Robinson, John Gaw and Phil Dryburgh who managed to complete 565 laps, averaging an amazing 75.22 miles an hour and for you stat fans we worked out that the car must have completed over 1800 racing miles!

Second was the Porsche 997 of the Jet Alliance team (Car #22) who had led the race from the 8 hour mark after the previous leaders in the Aquila and the Rollcenter Mosler both ran into problems. 3rd was another Porsche, this time the #42 996 GT3 of the Neil Garner Motorsport team, who not only clinched a 3rd place overall but took the win in class 3 and managed to complete 550 laps, 3 laps clear of the 4th placed Mosler.

An impressive performance in class 4 meant that 12th place overall and the class win was taken by the Ginetta G40 of Lawrence Tomlinson, Mike Simpson, Stewart Linn and Nigel Moore, followed by the Cox family with their Ford Escort Cosworth and Saxon Motorsport’s Honda civic claimed third spot.

Hopefully the photos will help to sum up the event, with the variety of cars, and the racing action but nothing written on Garage Awesome can possibly explain our enthusiasm and our interest in the event, and I urge folk with even the slightest of interest in motorsport to pencil it in as a trip out for next year and for those not wanting to jump into it at the deep end like we did, Britcar run a full season of shorter endurance events including one on the 30th October at out home circuit, Donington Park, so this wont be the last you see of Britcar events on Garage Awesome, not even the last you’re going to see of it this month!

More info at http://www.britcar24hr.co.uk

Pic Credits: Rich Cooper & Ollie Novell

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