Mike Simpson Blazes To Pole Under Snetterton Sun

by James Broomhead
Simpson's lad stood up to Javier Morcillo's late improvements (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Mike Simpson set the fastest lap in qualifying for the second Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship (BEC) race of the year at Snetterton, making a perfect start to the day’s competition for Team LNT.

Simpson, partnered with Ginetta Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson, in the works run team went out after a brief red flag half way through the session setting the 1:50.161 that would be the pole time with his first flying lap after the halt. With the tantalising aim of “turning the car into a 24 hour car” the team had returned to the Britcar paddock for the first time since their Donington victory in April. Since that victory – in changeable conditions vastly different to the scorching sun that has dominated the Snetterton weekend thus far – the GT3 Ginetta G55 car has enjoyed paddle shift and brake upgrades, the latter having only been run for the first time at the Avon Tyres British GT round two weeks previous.

Simpson’s lap pushed Javier Morcillo’s time earlier time from the top spot, but the Spaniard part of the Neil Garner Motorsport/Strata 21 Mosler team pushing for the overall BEC title fought back with a late success of laps that closed the gap to Simpson from 1.5 seconds to just under two tenths, his best lap coming as he sped under the checkered flag.

In yesterday’s test sessions the Mosler squad had had a fright when the car failed to restart after a spin at the Montreal hairpin, and the same thing happened in qualifying with Paul White at the wheel, the recovery of the car the cause of the red flag with 28 of the session’s 45 minutes remaining.

Another late improvement – this time by Andy Schulz – put the SB Race Engineering car third on grid ahead of the Mosler of Dave Shelton and Phil Keen, the latter, a reigning winner of the Britcar 24 Hours, responsible for putting the multi-coloured MT900R on the second row of the grid ahead of a revamped Ultima GTR of Mac G Racing.

Team Tiger set the best time of class two (1.55.266), they and Motionsport sandwiching the Class Three Bullrun Lotus Evora, the Strata 21 team’s main opponents with just two points scoring races remaining in the season.

The Bullrun team, in seventh overall, were still comfortably fastest in Class Three, easily faster than the third in class Strata 21 run Porsche 997 inserted into Class Three for White, Adam Sharpe and Oliver Campos Hull. Despite being in Class Three they were one place behind Strata 21’s Class Four Porsche 996 staffed by Sharpe, Dave Pittard (back after having to sit out the two hour race at Brands Hatch last month) and Rob Smith.

The trio were the best of Class Four, nearly a second and a half faster than Richard Abra and Mark Poole’s BMW which was, in turn, a half second faster than the Ginetta G55 Cup of father and son Peter and Matt Smith in their first weekend in Class Four having dropped down from the category above.

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