Mike Simpson led throughout the opening hour of the 2012 Britcar 24 Hours for Team LNT, streaking away into the lead from the pole position he earned during yesterday’s qualifying session.
The hour ended with only the top two cars on the lead lap – Simpson and Neil Garner Motorsport driver Javier Morcillo completing 26 laps, the Spaniard only trailing by a handful of seconds. The gap between the lead fluctuated after the leaders started to weave their way around slower traffic, Morcillo coming to within just tenths of the Ginetta G55 before falling away again.
Mike Brown in the BM Racing GT3 Aston was the first man off the lead lap in the third Class One car, with the fourth member of the class – the Mac G Racing Ultima enduring a troubled hour being towed back to the pits – where it remains for the time being – after a loss of drive for Nigel Farmer in the #7 car.
There were close battles in all the classes in the tightly packed first hour of the race, but by far the best was for the lead of Class Three between the Corum Sport Chevron of Darron Anley and and Kevin Clarke’s Intersport BMW.
With Clarke leading – though only by a matter of car lengths – the pair at least twice raced into Copse side-by-side, Anley taking the position on the second occasion only for Clarke to cling on around the outside of Copse to hold the inside for the sweeping entrance into Maggotts.
Class two was led at the end of the opening lap by the orange and black Team Tiger Marcos Mantis, only for Neil Huggins to take the psotion in the similar (though more calmly hued) Marcos for Topcats Racing. As the hour continued, Huggins pulled out a 17 second gap on Team Tiger’s Chris Beighton who increasingly fell back towards the Joe Osborne started Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G50.
Piranha/Fauldsport led Class Four at the end of the hour, taking advantage of a blown turbo hose for early class leaders Racer Industries Holden Astra. They were able to repair the damage, though they lost eight laps to Ryan Ratcliffe driving the opening stint in the Ginetta G40.
Also a pit visitor during the hour was the Lotus Evora of last year’s overall podium squad Cor Euser Racing. A suspension ball joint broke under Alistair McKinnon in the matt black machine, the repairs in the garage costing a total of 21 laps.
2012 Britcar 24 Standings After 1 Hour:
1 – Team LNT – Tomlinson/Kimber-Smith/Dean/Simpson
2 – Neil Garner Motorsport – White/Cintrano/Morcillo/Sharp
3 – MB Racing – West/Wall/Brown/Cripps
1 – Topcats Racing – Huggins/Bankhurst/Black/Solivellas
2 – Team Tiger – Beighton/Finnemore/Beighton
3 – Optimum Motorsport – Osborne/Mowle/Fletcher/Rattenbury
1 – Intersport – Clarke/Gibson/Hayes/Ratcliffe
2 – Corum Sport – Abra/Poole/Bardwell/Symons
3 – Strata 21 – Smith/Coomes/Wheeler/Craven
1 – Piranha/Fauldsport – Mason/Bryant/Ratcliffe/Bialan
2 – Brunswick Automotive – Griffiths/Green/Kirkpatrick/Forsbrey
3 – Rogue Motorsport – Baxter/Groombridge/Malone/Rata/West