Preview: MSA Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship


Britcar returns to action this weekend with the opening rounds of the MSA Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship, the Dunlop Sports and Touring Car Championship and the Britcar Trophy Championship. The first of six championship rounds will see the Endurance Championship take to the Silverstone National layout for two ninety minute races, joined in the second encounter by the Sports and Touring Car entrants.

The headline car for this season will no doubt be the #1 Ferrari 458 Challenge, run by FF Corse for the defending champions David Mason and Calum Lockie. After claiming the title in the final race of the 2014 season, the duo were among the first to announce that they would be returning to the series this year. They are not messing with the formula either, the same chassis, run by the same team, in the same class as when they took title.

The champ’s main rival from 2014 won’t be taking part in this year’s competition having opted instead to race in the Endurance Racing Series. The Neil Garner Motorsport run Mosler MT900 GT3 of Javier Morcillo and Manuel Cintrano held the Lockie/Mason Ferrari to a run so close we didn’t dare speculate on the result until Britcar owner James Tucker made the announcement. Their defection to the new championship is a blow to class 1, a class the Mosler has won many times.

Class 1 instead will be headlined by the Mike Millard driven Rapier SR2. Millard performed well in the early running last year until an accident at Spa broke the back of his championship challenge. Millard’s main rival in class this year will likely be a new arrival to the championship. The Gibson Motorsport team have entered class 1 for the first time with their new car, a McLaren 650S GT3. Having a new, cutting edge GT3 car in the championship could well return the overall title to the top class.

Two CN Prototypes will join the Rapier and McLaren in the top class. The Motionsport Wolf CN2000 contested a few rounds in 2014 with reasonable success. Simon Phillips has signed up Neil Garner Motorsport to help run the car which should add strength to his campaign. He will be up against an entry listed only as Mr Jakeman in a CN Tiga.

Nick Holden's Ariel Atom makes the move from Britcar Trophy to the Endurance Championship. (Credit: Nick Smith/The Image Team)
Nick Holden’s Ariel Atom makes the move from Britcar Trophy to the Endurance Championship. (Credit: Nick Smith/The Image Team)

In class 2 the rivals to our champions will come in the firm of Nick Holden’s Ariel Atom, run by Holden Autosport who performed well at Silverstone and Snetterton in 2014. The Atom moves up from the Britcar Trophy Championship so longevity in an endurance race could be a question mark but the pace is definitely there. The Saxon Motorsport BMW 150 GTR of Neil Primrose and Nick Barrow complete the class 2 line up. Built by the team and a regular in the 2014 championship, this 5.0l V10 monster is a very quick car with experienced drivers. The question is if it has the legs to keep up with a purpose built Ferrari.

Class 3 will provide the bulk of the field with ten entries over the two championships. Picking a winner could well be impossible with the quality of the entry. Saxon Motorsport have built a BMW 135d to run in the lower class, driver by Luca Demarchi and an as yet unconfirmed second driver, this machine is likely to be competitive from the off. Ian Anderson and Amanda Black in the Lifetime Racing Ginetta are back for yet more Britcar action. These series stalwarts have a wealth of experience in the championship along with a race proven G55 GT4.

Hans van Beek and Joey van Beek bring an E46 M3 to the class from Ciass Racing while Martin Short and Richard Neary have arranged an M3 GTR run by the endurance specialists, Rollcentre Racing. A 2002 spec GT3 car seems a bit old until you look at the driver line up of Marcus Fothergill and Dave Benett. That’s when you realise you are looking at the Porsche 996 GT3 which has been at the front of Britcar action for years. An Aston Martin Vantage GT4 from 22GT Racing for Chris Brown and Mika Brown comes as part of the Aston Martin Drivers Club which joins Britcar from this year and will be a contender from the off, provided the Browns can adapt to the 1.5 hour format after the 60 minute races last season. Joining the 22GT car will be one machine that no-one will count out for victory.

No drivers have yet been confirmed for the #41 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 but it will be a quick car that is for certain. Run by Beechdean AMR, 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship GT3 Champions and the 2014, and therefore reigning GT4 Champions, this title winning chassis will be quick from the first lap and could well be a contender for titles at both season end and come the end of the Dunlop 24 Hours at Silverstone, where Andrew Howard himself will take the wheel.

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The Beechdean AMR Aston Martin will race in both the Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours this year. (Credit: Nick Smith/The Image Team)

Class four brings one new name to the championship, PDS Racing. A SEAT Leon Supercopa for Michael Smith is the sole newcomer in an under subscribed production class. Usually one of the stronger fields in Britcar, this year it is quality, not quantity which will drive the fight in the slowest cars. Joining PDS will be the Track Torque Racing SEAT Leon, entered for Martin Parsons with no second driver. Track Torque will find their attention split between the SEAT and a GT4 spec Chevron in class 3 but they are an experienced team who know what it takes to win in Britcar.

The bright orange BMW M3 Compact of Martin Scheile makes its return to the championship for yet another year. Martin, and his car, have been long serving Britcar racers and it would be next to impossible to conceive a Britcar season without them. Nick Jarvis is also a returning racer, bringing with him an Audi S3 run by Backdraft Motorsport. The S3 is unique in the entire field in that the 2.0t racer is fitted with Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system. Expect Nick to be very quick when the heavens inevitably open.