A broken gearbox hydraulic line ended FF Corse’s streak of victories in the MSA British Dunlop Endurance Championship, with the BMW pairing of Mike Moss and Tom Howard taking victory in the first of two 90 minutes race on the Silverstone International circuit.
The pair ended the race with a two lap advantage over the Beechdean Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4, shared between team patriarch Andrew Howard and Paul Hollywood, but that advantage did little to illustrate the battles that raged for much of the race.
While Calum Lockie pulled away in the FF Corse Ferrari 458 Challenge he left a three way tussle for second in his wake with the Moss/Howard BMW, Luca Demarchi’s Saxon Motorsport BMW 135D and the Aston of freshly crowned British GT champion Howard falling over themselves to lead the chasers (who quickly became the chased as Lockie ripped around to put the first of two laps on the entire field before pitstops began to shuffle the order).
The #57 M3 held second for the first eight laps before being shuffled to the rear of the group with the Aston Martin now heading the trio. The order was reversed only a few laps later with the man at the wheel of the Moss/Howard entry escaping from the pair behind, who continued to squabble for position, the Aston laying a black donut on the right-side door of Demarchi’s entry to serve as memento of the fight before the diesel powered 1-series got ahead on the half hour mark, and began to close in on the black Beamer ahead.
It took only ten minutes for Demarchi to take back the five seconds’ gap to second place, taking the position as Howard brought the Beechdean car into the pits with the two BMWs following a few laps later.
With Hollywood – returning to the series for the first time since his entry in the first race of the season on the Silverstone National circuit – unable to match Howard’s pace in the Aston it seemed the podium fight would be between the two BMWs. Fortunes during the pitsops had favoured Demarchi, who resumed the race with nearly 30 seconds in hand over his rival, but now four laps behind the still-to-pit Lockie, who was set, once more, to hand over the Ferrari to car owner David Mason in a winning position. However, as Lockie bailed out from the car and prepared to help install his co-driver in the cockpit the team noticed something.
“Just some smoke coming from the rear alerted the guys to it,” Lockie told theCheckeredFlag.co.uk. “It” turned out to be a crack in a gearbox line, but even before diagnosis the team had chosen to park the car, the risk of further damage – internal or external – prompting them to concentrate on repairing the car in time for the day’s second race.
With the Ferrari laid up in the garage Demarchi took the lead, but he was being closed down and after two laps of wheel to wheel battling he was deposed, the Moss and Howard combination on their way to victory. That fact was made all be certain when a broken transmission bolt ended Demarchi’s race ten minutes early.
That allowed Howard and Hollywood to take second overall and the Invitation Class Porsche Boxter of Chris Valentine and Fareed Ali to take third overall. Nick Holden took fourth in his Ariel Atom, despite having fought mechanical issues during a ten minute stay in the pitlane at the half way point in the race.
The Britcar Sports and Touring Trophy series, running as a ‘race within a race’ during the first 45 minutes’ was won by Steve Glynn in his TVR Sagaris. He was two laps clear of Gary Simms in his Chevrolet CR8 with the Ali/Valentine Porsche also classified third in the championship.
The trophy runners had been led early on by Gary Furst in his Mitsubishi Evo IV, but an additional, and lengthy, pitstops knocked him down the order. However, perhaps the most battered car to return to the garage was Rob Hedley’s CR8. Damage inflicted by a hit from James McIntyre-Ure’s BMW as early as the third corner of the race damaged the rear differential, which Hedley suspected was the cause of his retirement, though the end of his race came only after contact with Darrelle Wilson’s VW Scirocco had gouged a chunk from the right side door.
The second MSA British Dunlop Endurance Championship race is scheduled to begin at 4:10pm.