The FF Corse pairing of Calum Lockie and David Mason continued their perfect season in the MSA Britcar Dunlop Endurance Championship, winning the first of the two 90 minute races for the championship at Snetterton by two laps.
This was a dominant performance, and though it was Lockie who built the two circuit lead over the first 50 minutes of the race their victory was not a matter of the hot shoe driver building a lead for a gentleman driver merely to preserve. Though, unsurprisingly, he was unable to match that gave Lockie the fastest lap of the race at 1:52.742, Mason’s pace was enough to consistently make him the fastest on track during his stint, securing the victory.
“The team did a fantastic job as ever,” Lockie told www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. “The car was absolutely fantastic and both the drivers kept it safe and sound. David held his own it was a fantastic drive and he was the quickest out there during the latter part of the race. I’ve been really impressed with his driving to day, really pleased.”
Lockie’s opening stint moved the target on from the morning’s qualifying session, the 2:11.375 that had delivered the red Ferrari 458 Challenge to pole position quickly brushed aside as he began to open the gap up to those behind. Only one other driver-car combination could join Lockie in lapping the 300 circuit of the Norfolk venue in less than 120 seconds, but Mark Cunningham started the race at a three-quarters of a lap disadvantage as the only just managed to the clean-out job on their Porsche 997 necessary after his father Peter had run into the Riches gravel trap during qualifying.
The family team – former Britcar champions running for the first time this season – would finish fourth overall, second in Class 2. Mark made quick work of the slower cars in the early laps, unwinding the unwanted stagger to their starting position climbing to sixth place in the ten car field inside of ten laps.
As Lockie had pulled away he had left a four way battle for second place. Mike Moss trying to protect the position he and co-driver Tom Howard had won in qualifying from the combined attentions of Nick Holden in his be-winged Ariel Atom, Saxon Motorsport’s Luca Demarchi and Darrelle Wilson in the PorscheShop run 997.
Though he started fifth it was Wilson making the running in the pack, completing the opening lap in third before taking second at Montreal three laps later from Moss’ BMW. Wilson slowly pulled away from the black BMW behind, but Moss was unable to shake Holden’s Atom in a similar fashion, the nimble machine proving an especially potent weapon through the technical infield section. His determined pursuit would eventually lead to Holden passing Moss 40 minutes into the race. By the time he took the place on the inside of the Montreal hairpin the move was for second, Wilson’s Porsche having been sidelined with drivetrain issues shortly after Lockie put his first full lap on the field.
The three way battle was reconvened after the pitstops. Moss gave way to Howard while Demarchi, running single handed merely had to wait out the minimum pitstop time. Holden – another man running the entire race – waited until the final 20 minutes to pit. Though Howard had unlapped himself from the Atom in the time between their two pitstops he was unable to make up the final 15 seconds over the laps that remained, instead making sure of third overall and Dunlop Endurance Sports and Touring Championship victory.
Howard talked tCF through the final part of the race: “From what I heard from the team I was gaining 1.5 seconds every single lap, but a couple of years ago when we were racing here we had a front left tyre blow out going around the first corner and towards the end of the stint I felt quite a bad vibration. So I thought ‘we’ve got our class win so I don’t want to push too hard and risk it’. We finished the race a couple of years ago on the rim and that was an experience and I knew I wasn’t going to catch him in the time I had so I’d done all I needed to do.”
Howard had also had to battle past Demarchi’s 1-Series BMW, the pair managing to wheel-to-wheel though three of the first four corners of the lap before Howard – again showing an endurance racer’s discretion – backed out the opportunity to hang around the outside of the left-kink at Hamilton.
Demarchi’s race would be derailed late on, a flat right-front resulting in an unplanned pitstop that dropped him behind the Cunningham’s Porsche in the overall standings.
The two cars had earlier come close to contact as Mark Cunningham tried to pass the BMW in Riches. Lining up for a – fairly standard – pass to the inside of the first corner Cunningham snatched a brake, skating across the track and on the grass on the outside of the track. The Porsche lost the front runner in the bump across the grass, but was able to continue, though it progress through the field was temporarily halted.
Soloist Martin Scheile finished in sixth, completing the Class 4 behind Moss/Howard and Demarchi with the team of Fareed Ali and Christopher Valentine the final classified runner, their Porsche Boxter seventh overall.
Rob Hedley – the Britcar Trophy regular simply using the race to gain track time in his Chevrolet CR8 – and the Darrelle Wilson Porsche were joined in not being classified by Team BRIT’s VW Golf, the team of injured former servicemen battling steering problems in the car, fitted with hand control to allow double-amputee Mark Allen to race.