The No.2 Eclipse Motorsport Ferrari was again leading at the end of hour four, just as it was at the end of hour three. However, this disguises the beginning of an exciting battle for the lead of Class One during this stage.
The No.6 Aquila had been slightly erratic after its early dominance, and had dropped down the order owing to a combination of drive-through penalties and inconsistent lap times whilst Gareth Evans was in the car.
Step forward John Martin though, and a sudden surge back through the field for the Acquila with some excellent driving.
The lead No. 2 Ferrari began the fourth hour with a pit stop whilst leading the race. The team re-emerged back in the lead but then, one lap later, pitted again. This brought the rest of the field closer, and allowed the emergence of the Acquila challenge.
The distinctive yellow car was promoted to second after the No.30 Ginetta G55 pitted and, in the hands of John Martin, quickly closed in on the blue and white Ferrari 430. Fifteen minutes into this particular hour and the Brit was one minute behind the leader and lapping about six seconds faster.
Then, on Lap 82, a poor lap from McInerney in the No.2 car – a 2:43.076 – dropped the lead down to just 18.051 seconds. It dipped a further 8 seconds on the following lap as Martin sensed he was close to the lead and then, one lap later, virtually on the stroke of 8pm, the Acquila re-took the lead.
By the time the Acquila made its fourth stop of the afternoon, which came in on Lap 92, it had a lead of 32.203 seconds. John Martin continued his sprint in the car – a wise choice considering his performance on the preceding laps. It conceded the lead after pitting, but was again hunting down that No. 2 Ferrari.
Whilst this intriguing battle continued out front, there was plenty of action happening out on track elsewhere. The safety car made another couple of appearances. The first was a very brief outing when the No. 30 Ginetta G55 – who was running top of its class at the end of the third hour – came to a complete halt at Maggots, with lights completely switched off. It apparently got going again under its own under its own steam soon afterwards, hence the reason for the unusually brief safety car period.
The second safety car appearance came at the end of the hour after car No. 56 – the Team Caramba BMW M3 – lost all of its electrics and stopped out on track.
It was a bad hour for the No. 4 Mosler, who had to contend with a fuel pressure regulator problem. By the end of the hour the team had completed five long pit stops , slipped right down the order, and are in need of a new part.
“It’s twenty-four hour racing,” the team told The Checkered Flag. “You do all the prep, the guys have done an amazing amount of work and all of a sudden, it’s going tits up. It’s a fuel pick-up problem, but we’ve also had the paddle shift and the flat shift go down and this is the car we won a championship with. All a sudden, we come here and there is a load of problems. It’s just the way it happens.”
The No 50. Vantage Racing car, which was beached in Stowe a couple of hours ago, made it back out on track, albeit over 40 laps down.
2011 Britcar 24 Hours Class Leaders after hour four:
1 – No.2 Ferrari – McInerney/McInerney/Keen
2 – No.6 Aquila – Mustill/Berridge/Evans/Martin
3 – No.3 Mosler – Beaumont/Fletcher/Draper/Hetherington
1 – No.27 Marcos – Upton/Huggins/Fletcher/Orton
2 – No.30 Ginetta G55 – Tomlinson/Short/Turkington/Simspson/Nicoll-Jones
3 – No.5 Porsche – Konopka/O'Donnell/Myszkowski/Lewandowski/Edwards
1 – No. 49 Aston Martin – Le Blanc/Van Lanschot/De Zille/Nimkoff
2 – No. 66 Porsche – Winter/Mundy/Morris/Speed/Raven
3 – No. 57 Lotus – Euser/Prewitt/Brody/Freebird/McKinnon
1 – No. 84 Seat – Breukers/Thijssen/Jensiew/Han
2 – No. 83 Lotus – Chamberlain/Randeria/Fillingham/Webb
3 – No. 89 BMW – Griffiths/Green/Forsbrey/Kirkpatrick
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