Calum Lockie in the Strata 21 Mosler took the win in a fourth round of the British Endurance Championship that proved to be as much a battle against atrocious conditions as against the rest of the field around Thruxton.
The weekend had not started well for Lockie – due to share the car with Paul White – and the team as a problem with their Production entry kept the Mosler off the track during the practice and qualifying sessions of Saturday ahead of the race on Sunday.
Race day dawned with rain and the conditions wasted no time in causing chaos once the pack was unleashed after two laps behind the safety car. Manuel Cintrano – given the impossible task of starting the Azteca Motorsport Mosler from pole – slid off around the first corner and though he was able to rejoin a melee behind put several cars out of the race early, while the luckless MacG Racing Ultima with Jonny MacGregor at the wheel stopped with electrical issues without completing a lap.
Such was the shuffle of the first lap that having started on row 11 Lockie, enjoying the conditions while other floundered, was up to tenth after a single tour and, thanks to pitstops from some of those ahead, was up to fifth when the safety car retreated into the pits.
Within ten laps the Mosler was leading, Lockie and Andy Schulz in the Horsepower Ferrari 430 Challenge demoting Nigel Mustill in the Aquilla down to third.
With several of the regular front runners absent, including 2010 champions MJC after their engine failure at Donington Park some of the small were team were allowed to take their places at the front. Happily the normally temperamental 430 Challenge chose the Thruxton weekend to hold out, allowing Schulz to put the car well up the order.
Schulz was able to stay with the theoretically faster Mosler for several laps through the spray before the bigger car began to ease away, though another safety car intervention whittled that lead to nothing while the Ultima was recovered for third time in 45 minutes.
The intervention provided the perfect chance for team to make their mandatory pitstop. Mustill handed the Aquilla over to Bob Berridge and Aaron Scott pitted the GT3 Racing Viper, though only for de-misting purposes – almost the stealth hazard of the conditions.
The McInerneys were also in under the safety car, Michael taking over the Eclipse Motorsport Ferrari that has won the last two British Endurance outings. However, his run in the car lasted less than a lap at racing speed, returning to the pits with heavy rear damage.
“It was horrible out there,” the driver offered his assessment of conditions. “I hit a puddle on the back straight, and the car just swopped ends.”
Another safety car followed, though not specifically for McInerney's moment, giving Dan Norris–Jones the chance to bring the Priocept Lotus in to hand over to Fulvio Mussi, giving up fourth pace overall and leaving only the top three left to stop. Lockie, Schulz and Jon Harrison who had brought the class 3 Topcats Racing Marcos up to third.
Maybe the lead trio knew what was coming because only half a dozen laps after Norris-Jones' stop Dave Pierre, the senior clark, brought the race to an early conclusion after just 66 minutes of the intended two hours.
The top three finished the race single-handedly, Harrision threatening to come out of retirement on a more permanent basis and Schulz praising the work done by the team.
“We have never raced in the wet,” he admitted, “and I changed the set up a fair bit for the rain and luckily it worked. Paul didn’t get a chance to drive at all in the race or even in the warm up due to a small fuel leak which was fixed by Stuart and the team at SB Race Engineering who did a great job in difficult circumstances all weekend. Conditions, especially after the last safety car were truly appalling and there was no surprise there were so many cars off everywhere, you just didn’t know if there was grip in the same places from lap to lap as there was so much rainfall and the visibility if you were behind anyone was really bad so a lot of the track had to be driven from memory rather than by sight and I had a couple of very “interesting” moments!”
“I managed quite early on to get past the leaders but was trying to be reasonably cautious & had no real answer for Calum in the Mosler, I did manage to just about keep with him for the remainder of the race and would have liked to see how the full distance race would have panned out with pit stops and driver changes.”
The Aquilla finished fourth among the GT entrants, but seventh overall behind the leading production cars.
The delayed pair of the GT3 Viper and the Azteca Motorsport Mosler finished tenth and eleventh overall, Manuel Cintrano having made way for Javier Morcillo earlier in the race as the pair tried to salvage something from the race.
Thirteenth overall and the best comment of the weekend went to Sam Head and Kyle Tilley. Tilley surrendered the driving seat early in his first ever wet race, Sam Head taking over the car. Before the race was ended he was on the verge of pulling in anyway after summing up conditions thus; “I don't fancy hospital food”.
Report produced with thanks to Steve Wood