Mike Simpson made the first move of the 2012 Britcar 24 Hours, striking the largely symbolic blow of taking pole position for Team LNT from the hour long session set the starting grid.
Simpson, joining the Le Mans class winning line-up of Lawrence Tomlinson, Richard Dean and Tom Kimber–Smith set what would be the fastest lap of the session early on, despite the session starting on a damp track with Simpson going out on slick Dunlop tyres. Simpson and the team are taking the car – still in development – into new territory, the car never having run for longer than three hours.
After a few admittedly hairy laps in the tricky conditions Simpson lapped the Silverstone Grand Prix track in 2:02.420. As the squad cycled through their drivers through the rest of the session Simpson’s time held the top spot by more than two seconds over the MB Racing GT3 Aston Martin, a car making its race debut.
The time only came under treat in the closing minutes of the session when Javier Morcillo stepped into the Strata 21/Neil Garner Motorsport Mosler at the end of their own cycle of drivers. From third and six seconds off pole the Spaniard cut Simpson’s margin at the top of the times to just three tenths with his final flying lap, setting up an intriguing battle at the top of the race.
The Aston Martin Vantage, thanks to Jamie Wall was third fastest, with Jon Finnemore the best of the Class Two runners for Team Tiger ahead of Topcats Racing’s Marcos Mantis and the MP Motorsport BMW M3 third fastest in class.
Behind the Cor Euser Racing Lotus Evora, third overall last year the best of Class Three rounded out the top ten, Kevin Clarke taking the class pole for Britcar stalwarts Intersport Racing.
For the 24 Hours the line-up in the BMW M3 combines Clarke and regular co-driver Wayne Gibson with Adam Hayes and Mark Radcliffe, regulars in a sister Intersport entry in the Britcar Production Cup. The Corum Sport Chevron was second fastest in class, in tenth overall.
Ryan McLeod set the best lap in Class Four in the Craigsted Engineering Holden Astra, leading the Dutch Red Camel.nl SEAT and the Brunswick Automotive BMW in class.
The session was thankfully eventful, with little destructive of note. Strata 21’s Class Three Porsche failed to set a lap in the session due to an oil leak, while both the Mac G Racing Ultima and the Rogue Motorsport Toyota MR2 did not set a timed lap, the latter after a spin at pit out during the morning warm-up session, the Ultima shearing an oil line during the session.
Problems continue to affect the Rollcentre Racing entry, Martin Short’s team stuck in the garage with an electronic problem immobilising the car.