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SEATs Triumph In Britcar Brands Race – Cunningham’s Race, Bullrun’s Title

3 Mins read

With the class honours still up for grabs in the Production ranks of the Britcar field the Brands Hatch Indy circuit played host to a title battle between BMWs and SEATs that came down to the slenderest of margins by the end of the 90 minute race.

The Intersport BMW of Kevin Clarke and Wayne Gibson started from Production and Class 1 pole, ahead of Mark and Peter Cunningham's SEAT Leon and Gino Ussi's single-handed entry from Geoff Steel Racing. BPM Racing – the only production team who had opted to complete the full three hours at Donington Park the previous round at – had added ballast to their own SEAT and dropped down to Class Two, where they promptly took the class pole.

That put them ahead of the battle for Class 2 and overall Production honours. The Bullrun squad – with drivers Richard Adams and David Green – would start ahead of title rivals ING Sport – fielding a father and son driving duo in Mike and Anthony Wilds. The last of the tile contenders would line up behind, but only after the Motor Racing Spares Motorsport team had been forced into a pre-race suspension change after the Ford Escort Cosworth had managed to shred its front tyres within three laps during qualifying.

It was the title fight which took much of the interest – Green had started the red SEAT, but fell back, handing the class lead over to Wilds. Only 18 minutes into the race Green brought the car into the pitlane, then immediately into the garage. A coil pack the culprit, and while Adams was able to return to the race it was six laps down and with any chance of a class win gone.

The chance for the championship, however, remained alive, but the point for fastest lap had become the tipping point for the title – and Bullrun knew this all too well. With Martin Byford acting as team manager for the race Green was called in for second stop later in the race – something of a luxury in a race where only taking the single mandatory pitstop was almost exclusively the done thing. With new tyres on the fastest lap was Green's in short order.

The Wilds took the class win, but Bullrun took the title by a single point. The celebrations began from – off all places – the gravel trap Druids. On the final lap of the race contact, apparently from the Rollcentre Mosler that was about to win the event overall, had spat Green off the track, beaching him firmly in the gravel.

The challenge of the Cox family and the Escort Cosworth had only lasted until half distance. Qualifying's short absorber problem solved a near-complete lack of brakes and a shattered hub had forced early retirement.

The Wilds BMW. Winners in Class Two, but beaten to the title

Title travails aside the Intersport and Cunningham crews had fought nearly the entire race for the Production win.

Peter Cunningham had completed the longer initial stint of the two front runners, though only be seven laps and still emerged behind Clarke's BMW before beginning a charge. The pair exchanged lap times – a battle that lasted nearly a third of the race, Cunningham gradually reeling in the Intersport car. He finally caught his quarry in the final quarter-of-an-hour, Clarke doing battle himself in the cockpit of the BMW, wrestling with what he described as “a box of neutrals”.

Mark Cunningham brought the car home in fifth overall – deep among the faster GT cars – though he too had to contend with his own late race problems due to a lack of power steering in the final ten minutes. Gino Ussi completed the Class 1 podium.

Gary Smith in an MG ZR took second place in Class 2 behind the Wilds car with debutant Jensen Lunn – in a Saxon Motorsport run Honda Civic that battle the darkness with only road-standard lights – and impressive third. Both, as well as the BPM SEAT finished ahead of the Bullrun car, but all three were running as invitation entries, so were ineligible for points.

Bullrun: Production champions by a point despite late gravel visit

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