Team LNT have claimed their first win of the domestic UK season with a victory in the British Endurance Championship (BEC) round on the Grand Prix layout at Brands Hatch. The Ginetta G55 GT3, shared by Mike Simpson from the factories driver line up and company boss Lawrence Tomlinson, used a combination of outright pace and strategy to knock down opposition from a brace of Aston Martin Vantage and a very determined BMW.
The boss started the car, from a lowly sixteenth and dragged it into contention by the time he handed over to Simpson. The problem which hobbled the car in qualifying has finally been revealed as a sticking throttle cable.
Mike Simpson said, “It feels very good. Obviously we’ve not done a three hour endurance of Britcar since Snetterton last year. (LT – What happened there?) We won, (LT – and the one before?) We won that too. I think we called the strategy very well and obviously the car is fantastic. It’s good on the Dunlop tyre and fuel wise as well.”
“The race was good, Lawrence did a stunning job to go from the back in qualifying to sixth on the road. The safety car helped as well. We took on a splash and put me in the car and did a double stint. It was a good stint as well, I stayed on Lawrence’s tyres and the car was great. It was easily doing a very strong pace.”
A safety car for a monumental collision between the #97 Chevron GT4 and the visiting MJC Ferrari of Witt Gamski and Phil Dryburgh at Clearways gave the Ginetta crew a needed break before the battle began anew. It also helped by closing the pack up again, after a stonking start by the #2 Mosler had let the #007 Aston Martin and the Neil Garner Motorsport MT900R break from the pack behind a struggling Paul Bailey.
When the two crunched cars were recovered to the pits seven laps later, with both Gamski and Anthony Reid unhurt in the incident, the battle was resumed. The leading Aston Martin left all in the dust, churning out a succession of fastest laps, which finally fell on the eightieth tour thanks to the other Vantage.
There was a risk of a second safety car on the eighteenth lap when the #8 Rapier SR2 of Mike Millard, Nigel Greensall and Jonathan Coleman went up in a cloud of smoke and fire in the pit lane. That incident failed to bring out the BMW M3 safety car but seven laps later, the expiration of the Strata 21 entered Praga R4S stopped play yet again. Rob Smith was behind the wheel when the fuel pressure dropped and the car was stranded out on the Grand Prix loop of the circuit. The team struggled to get the car back into action but it also retired in the pit lane.
The #71 Tracktorque Chevron was the other retirement.
The final result saw the #32 Ginetta G55 GT3 followed home by the #007 Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Both Astons had been in for the win at times, the Bilstein sponsored car had dominated the opening stint. Tom Onslow-Cole handed the car to Paul White in good position for a race win but White was unable to keep the pace and lost out to the LNT car, the Horsepower Racing Aston Martin and the 888Optimum Motorsport BMW Z4.
Each of these cars had a spell in the lead but fuel strategy hobbled both the BMW of Lee Mowle and the Aston Martin White and Onslow-Cole shared with John Gaw. The Horsepower car looked set for the win, the team told us that they had fourteen laps of fuel and fourteen laps of time left so it was close but achievable. That was until Andy Schultz was pitched off line and retired in the pit lane with a broken wishbone. Whether the car was damaged by the off or the off was caused by the damage is uncertain. The car eventually classified, a disappointing 11th of thirteen finishers, but the incident gifted full points to the Neil Garner Motorsport Mosler of Javier Morcillo and Manuel Cintrano.
Pit stop problems delayed the #24 Team Parker Racing Porsche 997, they cut their stop short and had to serve a stop and five second hold for the sins. That may well have cost the Ian Loggie and Chris Jones driven machine a class win as the #46 Audi has been officially credited with the victory.
There is however confusion over the result of the second class battle as the new for Brands Hatch Audi stuttered to a halt at Clearways on the final lap and didn’t actually take the chequered flag. Peter Cook was at the wheel at the time and said that even if they got to keep the win, they didn’t actually earn it. Team Parker Racing have apparently sought redress by protesting the entry of the R8 LMS. This one could run on to Snetterton and beyond.
Loggie and Jones took second in the class, just under fifty seconds behind the Audi according to the timesheets. Third went to the invited Ferrari of FF Corse. The #21 machine was driven by Jacques Duyver and Charlie Hollings and had an uneventful run to the podium, displacing the Renault Megane V6 Trophy of BPM’s Ashley Woodman and Martin Byford who struggled with an electrical glitch all day.
Class three went to the GTS Motorsport entered BMW M3 GTR. Tom and James Webb held a full lap margin over the Fauldsport Ginetta G55 of Flick Haigh and Ryan Ratcliffe. That wasn’t always the case though and both of the drivers had to work a determined battle to get on terms with the Ginetta and to get past. The final move took the better part of two thrilling laps.