Though the two hour duration of the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship meant the normal threesome in the Neil Garner Motorsport prepared Mosler was cut to just a double handed effort the result remained the same as Javier Morcillo and Paul White recorded their third win of the year at Brands Hatch.
Morcillo – having taken pole position earlier in the day – started the car and immediately started to build a lead over the trio of teams who have become their main rivals over the opening races of the campaign. Mike Millard started the Rapier SR2, Paul Bailey the black SB Race Engineering Ferrari 430 and Lee Mowle the Ginetta G55, but all three fell behind Morcillo at more than a second a lap in the early running as Chris Beighton in the Class Two Team Tiger Marcos Mantis waded through the faster cars.
After the first half dozen laps Beighton was second, but the no.33 would bow out after a frantic opening, becoming the first of several cars to suffer suspension failure early on. Another potentially competitive car to leave the race prematurely was the Class Three Lotus Elise of Jamie Stanley and Chris Headlam. The duo – Britcar regulars in past season making their first start of 2012 – had the pace in qualifying and the early laps to match Martin Byford in the Bullrun Lotus. However, a gearbox problem limited them to just 39 laps.
Headlam's retirement left Byford relatively unchallenged, his advantage coming to be measured in laps as James Webb and Mark Poole – pitted their respective BMW M3s under the first safety car of the race caused when Jacques Duyver beached his FF Corse Ferrari in the Paddock Hill gravel.
Essex-based Byford rightfully won Driver of the Day from fuel suppliers Sunoco for his stint in the car, which only ended with 25 minutes to go when the team made their one and only stop to put David Green in the car.
Byford had pitted from second place, on the lead lap behind the Mosler but fell to fourth place amongst the quartet of Class One cars. Ian Heward inherited second in the Rapier but had Andy Schulz chasing him down in the Ferrari started by Bailey.
Though relatively unnoticed compared to Byford's turn in the Lotus Schulz's stint was just as long, taking over from Bailey shortly before first safety car intervention.
The green flag stop – on the short Indy circuit – had him four laps down on Morcillo, but when free from the constant traffic around the 1.2 mile track Schulz was the fastest man on circuit and, as others pitted around him, he moved into third place when Byford surrendered the driving seat in the Lotus.
Schulz's pace against the slower Heward ahead was on course for the pair to converge in a battle for second in the closing laps. Unfortunately, another suspension failure, ended Heward's race and gifted second place – in their first finish of the season – to Bailey and Schulz. Schulz trailed by just 39 seconds at the line as White completed a lights-to-flag victory for the Mosler squad.
“This was the one we should win because the disadvantage of the Mosler had disappeared to the plan was to run like a sprint race – it's the first sprint race we've done for a long time really,” said Morcillo. “I pushed like hell for the whole stint and we got that safety car good enough for pitting and not losing time with putting Paul in. He's been in a very good rhythm all weekend so I was very confident that he could maintain the lead. We had to win this on pure speed, which out car has so we pushed and used that speed and the car was perfect.”
The Spaniard admitted that the initial strategy plan had been for his co-driver to take the first stint, but with White wary of the risk of an early accident taking him out Morcillo was in the cockpit with the plan to just build as big a gap as possible.
The end of the Flat Six Rapier briefly lifted Green and the Evora back onto the overall podium before George Murrells took third position for Optimum Motorsport.
Green finished fourth and won Class Three with the Webb family and Mark Poole/Richard Abra M3s a distant second and third, the Webbs two laps behind the Lotus, Poole and Abra a further two laps in arrears.
“We hadn't scheduled to run that long but the couple of safety car periods we got fell just right for us,” Byford said of his stint. “The guys were doing all the maths in the pitlane, figuring out where we needed to be in the race and they were talking to me about extending the stint as the tyres were good and the car was getting lighter and lighter on fuel.”
“I think it was an hour and twenty minutes on the original tyres when we set fastest lap and I think that in itself speaks volumes about what you can do with this car. That's quite impressive I don't think there's many cars that could do that. The harder you push this car the faster it goes, you can over step the mark and have it sliding around. You can do all sorts of things, it's just amazing to drive. Lotus have given us a fantastic car to go motor racing with.”
For the second event running Simon Phillips and Pete Storey dominated Class Two with their Motionsport Ferrari 458 despite late race problems. Starting the car Storey was another late pit visitor, only handing over to Phillips with 45 minutes remaining.
Once Phillips had taken control the same problem that hobbled their quest for overall victory at Snetterton struck again. The pair narrowed the Snetterton issue down to a problem where an overheating exhaust system was forcing the car into limp mode, which includes dumping extra fuel into the engine, hence their costly stop in the previous round.
Between races the team had worked to raise the temperature threshold at which the sensors would diagnose the same problem but the heat soak during the driver change stop was still enough to trigger the same problem.
Fortunately, one the shorter track the problem was less costly than at Snetterton and allowed the pair to take a class win over the Topcats Racing Marcos of Sam Head and Owen O'Neill, with invitation drivers Andy Holden and Rod Barrett completing the class podium in their first outing with the TVR Sagaris.
“The car's just sat in the pitlane and the same thing's happened so the thresholds we put in obviously weren't big enough,” Phillips explained. “So I did the second on limp mode but luckily because it's not a power circuit we could still stick in 50 second lap times to just maintain pace. We quite a way out ahead so it just don't break the car really, make sure you don't over throttle it and keep banging round. It helped tidy up the driving really and look after the tyres because the car only allows you 40% throttle which means your lines have got to be clean and you've got to drive it well.”
The class winners were rounded out by Adam Sharpe and David Pittard in the Strata 21 Porsche. The pair, without normal co-driver Tom Jones for the shorter race, were dominant in completing the perfect race in class of pole, fastest lap and win, finishing four laps clear of the Motionsport Lotus Elise and Jensen Motorsport Chevron.
Pittard spoke to The Checkered Flag after the race; “the car held out fine, it just kept going and going and going. It looked after its tyres fine but just at the end they started to slightly go off, but just as we pitted the safety car came out. That was out only drama really because it meant we could only put one 25 litre churn in which meant we had to go round and come back again and put another churn in so we were pretty much back where we started so we didn't lose too much time.”