British Endurance Championship

Rapier Gets to the Point in Britcar Endurance Opener

4 Mins read
The Britcar season opere revolved around a battle between the two front row cars (Credit: Nick Smith)

The first race of both the Britcar Endurance Championship and the Britcar Endurance Sports and Touring Car Championship has been taken by the Rapier SR2 of Mike Millard. The LMPX machine held the leads from pole in an out and out drag race to Abbey on the Silverstone International circuit before the solo running Mike Millard could gap the Neil Garner Motorsport Mosler. That gap was a matter of seconds for the entire first stint as Millard handled all the pressure Javier Morcillo could heap on him and during the pit stops disaster struck.

The two cars came in nose to tail to the Wing pit lane, with the Mosler pulling into the first garage and the Rapier coming to a halt four spaces further down. A blistering fuel and driver change in the Mosler pit had Manuel Cintrano out of the pits before Mike Millard had even gotten back into his car! A nineteen second deficit would prove no problem for the Rapier however which caught, passed and put a minute over the Rapier by the end of the ninety minute encounter.

The frightening pace at the head of the field left Nathan Freke and Ian Stanton no chance of keeping up with the battle ahead. They fell two laps off the lead over the course of the clash but the #12 Stark Racing Ginetta G55 still had a buffer of a lap over the best of the class 2 runners.

In class 2 there was another race long battle with Calum Lockie and David Mason doing all they could to find a way past the #31 BAMD 458 Challenge. The FF Corse pairing would ultimately be denied and fall a lap off the class lead though they still held a full three laps over the third car in the class, Guillume Gruchet’s Newbridge Motorsport Porsche 997 Cup.

Gruchet is a story by himself, having stepped up to the Britcar Endurance Championship and a 911 after a season in the Britcar Production Sportscar Championship in a Boxter. A questionable qualifying position of eleventh was turned into seventh during the race and though the Porsche fell laps down on a class 4 Ginetta G50 over the course of the race, it was still an impressive debut. Especially when you consider the monumental change between a team built Boxter and one of the most sorted single make GT cars in the world.

There was a class 3 in the race, though the impressive pace of the Lifetime Racing car somewhat embarrassed the similarly equipped Intersport Racing outfit. Andrew Donaldson eventually claimed the class victory but you could safely say the Ginetta G50 was the only class leader to face pressure in the dying laps of the race.

Fleeting though that pressure was, it came in the form of the relatively close aboard E92 M3 of Ian Donaldson and Anna Walewska. The ex-Thorney BMW had been thoroughly overhauled by the Intersport team and ran with some minor success last year. On its first real challenge it managed to keep the team car honest with just a 35 second deficit after 71 laps for the class. The E36 BMW of Paull Phipps and Robert Day rounded out the class, two laps behind the battle for victory.

The class 4 machine mixing it up with the class 2 runners was the #50 Lifetime Racing entry of Ian Anderson and Amanda Black. The Ginetta G50 not only won its class but the first Britcar Endurance Sports and Touring Car Championship race of the year. The pair were miles ahead of their nearest rival by the close of play, finishing in sixth overall compared to eleventh for the Tony Shemmans and Skid Carrera driven Tracktorque SEAT Supercopa which took second in class. The only other classified class 4 car was the Zest Motorsport #68 SEAT which lost twelve laps to the winning Rapier and finished in twelfth place.

The butcher’s bill was impressive come the end of the eighty lap contest. First to fall was Nick Holden’s Toyota GT86 which made it five laps and just over six and a half minutes into the race before pitting and never resurfacing. The #42 Adam Hayes and Mark Radcliffe BMW also pulled over, after spending ages in the pits yet still managing to be the only car all day which got pinged for track limits.

BMW’s appeared to struggle too as the Intersport car sits at the bottom of a pile of broken Bimmers including the Simpson Motorsport car of Barclay Dougall, the Mike Moss and Tom Howard #57 and the Saxon Motorsport machine. The #45 Saxon team can console themselves with the fastest lap in class but dropping out at the halfway mark was definitely unwelcome.

That Saxon car is a story in its own right though as the endurance racing outfit have prepared a new car for the season. Unlike their class winning Nurburgring 24 car, it is a petrol machine, though still based on the BMW I50 1-Series. To give it more poke than a standard 116i however, they have taken out the standard four and six pot engine options and dumped in a 5 litre V10!

The Spice LMPX of Karim Moudi dropped out around the halfway mark, as did the Damax BMW of Nick and Tim Adams. The stunning matte black BMW Z3 M-Coupe of Emin Sadig and Wil Arif made it just past the two thirds distance mark before they stopped out on track. Mark and Peter Cunningham were the last of the not classified runners, a cruel label as they actually got the SEAT Supercopa to the finish but they lost too many laps for it to count.

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I am a photographer, writer and podcast presenter, specialising in GT and Endurance racing. I've been with The Checkered Flag since 2014, covering a wide range of racing series from Formula Ford to Formula 1, with British GT the main focus of my work. You can hear me monthly on the British GT Fans Show which can be found in our Recommended Listening section.
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