‘Lucky’ Neil Garner Motorsport Take Donington Win


Javier Morcillo and Manuel Cintrano have taken their second win of the season in the Britcar Endurance Championship at Donington Park. Morcillo started the car, which had a lucky race buy the Spaniard’s own admission, before handing over to Cintrano who drove a measured second stint to victory by two laps. The Mike Millard driven Rapier SR2 was set to take second and regain the lead lap until he lost two tours to the Mosler when his LMPX coughed to a halt in the dying moments.

Early honors went to the #19 Riley, entered by Nigel Mustill but driven by John Martin and Craig Dolby, until disaster struck 21 laps in. Martin was in the car when it lost a drive shaft and retired. Similarly, the MacG Ultima GTR retired early on from the class 1 fight after a very strange problem. Apparently the rear of the chassis collapsed on the Ultima, leaving the car stranded in the garage on lap six.

A further six cars joined the main class 1 protagonists in retirement during the course of the race.

Mike Millard was therefore set fair for victory but was plagued by technical problems before the pit lane even opened. “What happened is that I got in the car at the beginning and I couldn’t hear the radio,” Millard explained. “So we took the helmet off and took a look and the wire had come out of the earphone so I had no radio. I came in the first time and the guys said what do you want, I said the oil temperature had gone through the roof and we had to get the ducts cleared. I came in the second time and they said what do you want? Some petrol would be ok I said.

“I think we lost about three laps,” he concluded.

The Riley leads away from pole position (Credit: Nicholas Smith)
The Riley leads away from pole position (Credit: Nicholas Smith)

Towards the end of the race the team reported that his car was down on power. They agreed to sort the issue by turning up the revs by 200 rpm without considering the impact on fuel economy. Millard praised the BRSCC marshals who came to his aid when he ran out of fuel in the Melbourne loop on the final lap, “You can thank the marshals for me though, they got me into the Melbourne loop then the guys that were running the Caterhams pushed me all the way back here and then the guys from the pit lane pushed me into parc ferme. They are incredible.”

He held two laps over the third placed car of Darren Nelson and Nigel Greensall, who claimed class 2 in the BAMD Racing Ferrari 458 Challenge. A late race safety car, brought out to recover the Team Tiger Marcos Mantis of Chris Beighton and Jon Finnemore which came to grief at Old Hairpin fifteen laps before the end of the race, closed the Challenge up to the 458 Cup of FF Corse. The safety car came in too early for Darren Nelson to get on direct terms with David Mason, who was trying to preserve an advantage secured by Callum Lockie, but with the momentum behind him Nelson carved up to five seconds a lap from the #26 machine.

The move came with a dive up the inside at the Goddards Hairpin five minutes before the end of the race. Mason saw the BAMD car coming and gave racing room, which Nelson made good use off before romping off to open up a 36 second advantage in the dying minutes of the race. Frank Pelle brought the Audi R8 LMS he shared with Peter Cook to the flag in fifth overall and third in class 2 a lap off the class leading pace.

That result was a blessing in itself though as the #21 machine had one of those races you want to forget. A puncture on lap one put them into the pits, where a procedural error landed them with a 90 second stop and hold. They didn’t serve the full 90 seconds minimum pit stop time which applies to every visit to the pits, not just driver changes and fuel stops. The stop for tyres cost them the lead lap while the visit for the stop and hold lost a second lap to the leaders.

Mark Radcliffe nursed his BMW M3 GT4 to class victory and sixth overall despite having gearbox problems throughout the meeting so far. “I had a problem from the moment I left the pits,” Radcliffe explained. “Because we had a gearbox blow after six laps in qualifying and we changed it before the race but it wasn’t set up right. I wasn’t getting my gears when I wanted them and I was having to cruise through the corners, reduce my braking considerably before I came into the corner and wait to get back on the power on the way out.

“I said to the guys should I come and park it but they said no, you are going really quick, you are alright. It felt terrible but I’m pleased to get a result despite the problem.”

Despite his woes, Radcliffe put the class 2 Porsche of Guillaume Gruchet and three class 4 cars between his BMW and his team mates and class rivals Ian Donaldson and Anna Walewska. David Green and Richard Adams took third in the class in the Bullrun SEAT Leon which they shared with newly minted racing driver Max Adams. Max passed his ARDS test just weeks ago and thanks to his team mates grabbed a podium in his first ever race.

The Britcar Endurance Sports and Touring Car Championship segment of the race was claimed by Peter and Mark Cunningham for SG Racing. The father/son pairing battled adversity to top their class by a miniscule gap of 0.632 seconds thanks to a flat spot and double penalty. The first penalty was a five second time penalty, which to complicate matters was added electronically rather than as an addition to the stops. The second was a drive through, served by Mark and leveled due to track limits infringements.

The father and son Cunninghams won the Touring Car portion of the race (Credit: Nicholas Smith)
The father and son Cunninghams won the Touring Car portion of the race (Credit: Nicholas Smith)

The dying laps were a battle to the finish with Barclay Dougall’s BMW M3 which ran second on the track but held the lead due to the five second penalty. Pushing to close up the gap, as though he didn’t know that the penalty applied to the SEAT, Dougall misjudged the final lap, losing two seconds in an unknown issue. That put the #53 into the hot seat and the top step of the podium. Dougall kept it together to take third almost forty seconds clear of the #79 SEAT of Cris Hayes.

The list of retirements was extensive, headlined by the Riley, Ultima and Marcos mentioned above. Nick Barrow and Robert Hall came to grief in the #45 Saxon Motorsport BMW 1-Series. They pitted after an hour and never emerged, though they out lasted the #12 Stark Motorsport Ginetta which let down Ian Stanton on lap 28 of the 53. A power steering failure left the G55 GT3 stricken in the garage and Nathan Freke without a go. The Cox and Taylor driven Zest Racecar Engineering SEAT dropped out a lap before the drive shaft went on the Riley while the Spice LMPX fried a piston with Damax claiming that the exhaust packing required for noise limits caused the engine to overheat.

The other retirement spoiled an otherwise good day for the Intersport Racing team as Andrew Donaldson pulled up after just sixteen laps in the team’s #41 Ginetta G50.