Team LNT combination Lawrence Tomlinson and Mike Simpson overcame early mistakes to take a comfortable victory in the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship (BEC) but behind the pair’s Ginetta G55 GT3 controversy reigned as the battle for the overall championship was fought.
Having won in their only previous BEC outing this year Tomlinson and Simpson maintained their 100%, though unlike their success at Donington Park in April their win had implications on the title fight, with only a single points scoring round remaining after the weekend in Norfolk. Having taken victory at Donington running in the Invitation class, and thus not scoring points, with Snetterton came championship entry, and so eligibility for points, crucially taking them off Britcar regulars Neil Garner Motorsport.
The Mosler team with drivers Javier Morcillo, Manuel Cintrano and Paul White, having wrapped up Class One with four wins already this season now have to beat run-away Class Three winners Bullrun for the overall title. Having similarly taken maximum points in their class on four occasions this year Bullrun came to Snetterton with a one point advantage but with another class win moved five points clear with just November’s Donington Park night race remaining to score points in.
After a sluggish start David Green on driving duties the Bullrun Lotus Evora fell to third in class behind Brands Hatch winner James Webb in his family’s BMW M3 and Adam Sharpe in the Strata 21 run Porsche, a car making its first appearance of the season.
However, a pitstop under the first safety car period of the race saw star driver Martin Byford installed in the car, and with improved lap times Byford took the class lead shortly after the end of the first hour, maintaining the position through the rest of race.
When the safety car appeared for a second time, this time after the #71 Chevron – an overall podium visitor in the BEC’s May Snetterton race – had burst into flames at the Esses, Byford made a well-timed pitstop and restarted the race in the overall lead. Though he only held the top spot until turn two when Simpson and Ferrari driver Andy Schulz went past at the Montreal hairpin.
Byford held third place until the final half hour when Morcillo, fighting back up the field, took third at Palmer as he galloped up to the tail of Schulz in a fading Ferrari before a final safety car – this after soloist Jensen Lunn pulled off at Riches – set up a two lap sprint to the flag in which to settle the fight for second.
After clashing at Brands Hatch when fighting for the win Schulz and Morcillo being on track together with points at stake always promised to be noteworthy, especially with Schulz’s Ferrari struggling on worn tyres and marginal on fuel as the three hours drew to a close.
On the final lap Schulz defended hard by fairly through the first three corners, but at Agostini there was contact, hard enough for the Mosler to cut out, coasting through Hamilton towards Oggies before Morcillo fired the #6 car into life again. Though he kept third in class he fell to fifth overall, behind Byford and Class Two winners Pete Storey and Simon Phillips in the Ferrari 458.
Motionsport men Storey and Phillips won class two with the Webb family BMW sixth, the final car on the lead lap with 76 circuits of the 300 layout completed despite the four lengthy safety car periods.
However, the race win undisputedly belonged to Simpson and Tomlinson. Tomlinson started the race but, pitted against Schulz and Phil Keen in the opening stint fell back to third that became fifth after mistakes on two consecutive laps, the latter sending Tomlinson on a bouncy ride through the grass exiting Riches after being baulked by a slower car. Schulz’s lead lasted only until the first caution, brought out by a cataclysmic engine failure for the Topcats Racing Ginetta G50 of Mick Mercer. Mercer spun off, leaving a trail of oil that caught out first Richard Fearns then Schulz, the leader spinning off, though only doing slight damage to the rear of the car.
Team LNT’s next challenge for the lead came from Phil Keen in Dave Shelton’s Mosler. One week on from his role in the Olympic closing ceremony (bringing Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson to the stage) Keen was on fine form, leading for 14 laps after taking the position from Tomlinson.
Unfortunately for Keen Dave Shelton, their time in the lead was terminated by wheel bearing failure on the Mosler.
The Britcar paddock now switches into 24 hour mode for the Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone on September 21-23.