Michael Symons won yesterday’s opening race for the Britcar Production Cup Championship at Donington Park.
Driving solo in his Geoff Steel BMW M3, he had started from pole position ahead of the Adam Hayes/Mark Radcliffe Intersport BMW and the rest of the four-class field.
At the start of the 90-minute race it was Radcliffe’s car which took the early lead. Radcliffe managed to string together a series of very fast laps to claim a four-second advantage by the end of the second tour of the Midlands circuit.
This dominance was not to last, however, as Symons finally found some pace and set about reeling the Intersport machine in.
Meanwhile, there was drama in Class 4 as class leader Tony Skelton’s Renault Clio burst a water pipe. Water gushed onto his tyres, causing him to lose control at Redgate corner and spin into the gravel, taking the Chris Webster/Matt Nicoll Jones Ginetta G40 with him. Avoiding it all, the Syncho Honda Jazz of Alyn James sailed through to take the lead. Both cars would drive out of the gravel, but Skelton’s Clio soon pulled into the pits to retire.
At the front of the field, the Class 1 leaders Symons and Radcliffe were embroiled in a battle for BMW supremacy. By the end of lap 11, former pole-sitter Symons had re-taken the lead.
The Intersport team’s day was about to get much worse, however. After swapping Radcliffe out for Adam Hayes, the team’s Bavarian machine was to re-enter the pits with a broken throttle cable. The team’s mechanics spent a number of minutes with their heads inside the M3’s engine bay, and they sent the car out again a number of laps down. However, Hayes would soon return to the pits to retire the car.
After the round of pitstops, the SEAT Super Copa of Craig Davies and Adam Jones was the leader of Class 1, and of the race. However, their pitstop and driver change had taken too little time. Bizarrely, a faulty egg timer was to blame, draining its sand after 79 seconds. Production Cup stops must take 90 seconds, and the car was brought back into the pits to make up the time with an 11-second stop/go penalty. The lead was therefore handed back to Michael Symons’ BMW.
Jones, now at the wheel of the Sub-Zero/Wolf SEAT set about making the time back up, and was lapping consistently faster than Symon’s BMW. It wasn’t enough, however, as Symons crossed the line after 90 minutes to take the overall victory and the Class 1 win. Jones/Davies took second, with the Graham Johnson/Mike Robinson SEAT in third, winning Class 2 – they’d inherited third after Mark Cunningham’s SEAT suffered a last-lap mechanical drama which dropped them to fifth. Edward and Harry Cockill, moving into Class 2 after winning the Production Cup overall from a category below last year finished fourth over all in the own SEAT Supercopa
The Class 3 spoils were taken by the ING Sport BMW M3, with the Anthony Rodgers and David Barker’s TCS Ginetta winning Class 4.