The opening hour of the 2015 Dunlop 24 at Silverstone ended with less than a second between the two leaders as Adam Sharpe and Glynn Geddie fought wheel to wheel for the position.
Both men, former British GT champion Geddie at the wheel of the Marco Schelp entered Porsche, Sharpe starting the Simpson Motorsport run Audi R8 LMS, moved up from the starting positions, into second a third after the early exchanges before inheriting the privilege of racing for the lead when Charlie Robertson pitted the Ginetta LMP3 from the lead.
Robertson, making his debut in the 24 hour race, started the Nissan engined machine from pole position and galloped out into a lead of nearly a minute inside of the first half hour. Much of his early work was then undone when Rollcentre Racing’s BMW stopped at Becketts with an oil pressure issue. The stricken M3 GTR, which had been fighting for the podium spots in class 3, prompted a brief safety car period.
The safety car bunched up those behind, led by Geddie in the Porsche. He had first taken second in the early laps, then held off Martyn Smith in the Radical Sportscars RXC. But, when Smith pitted the bright yellow machine his place on Geddie’s tail was taken by Sharpe who remained close behind when the green flag flew after five minutes of running under yellow.
As Robertson pulled away again – though at a rate reduced by traffic – the duo remained in close contact and just before Robertson pitted the lead car after 55 minutes Sharpe moved the Audi past Geddie taking second – and then the lead – in rapid succession.
After their pitstops The Radical and Ginetta teams – Sir Chris Hoy taking his first 24 Hour race stint – were in third and fourth ahead of the MARC Cars Australia V8 Focus. Tom Onslow-Cole was the first man into the #91 entry, holding the lead of class 2 and taking the fight to some of the slower cars in the premier category.
After starting from second Witt Gamski slid into the back half of the top ten in the MJC Ferrari while there were overheating issues – of a sort – for the Simon Green Motorsport entered Jaguar XKR-S. Freddie Hunt started the car, and held a spot in the top half dozen until he was forced to end his stint early, complaining of the heat in the cabin of the #76 car.
With Nigel Rata relieving the Clio Cup racer the Jag returned to the track, but it ended the opening hour in 20th place overall.
APO Sport’s Porsche led class 3 throughout the opening hour with Alex Osbourne at the wheel.
Martin Byford, a former Britcar champion, drove the first stint in SICL.com’s SEAT, keeping the car at the front of class 4. The #66 WEC Motorsport SEAT, ending the first hour in 21st overall, leads class 5.
2015 Dunlop 24 Hours at Silverstone overall standings after 1 hour:
1 – #8 Simpson Motorsport Audi – C1 – Peter Cook/Phillip Hopkins/Franck Pelle/Adam Sharpe/ Stephen Ritchie
2 – #14 Marco Schelp Porsche – C1 – Marco Schelp/Michael Tischner/Willie Moore/Jim Geddie/Glynn Geddie
3 – #10 Radical Sportscars – C1 – Laurence Wiltshire/Martyn Smith/Chahin Nouri/Richard Roberts
4 – #12 Team LNT Ginetta – C1 – Lawrence Tomlinson/Chris Hoy/Mike Simpson/Charlie Robertson/Gaetan Paletau
5 – #91 MARC Cars Australia Ford – Tom Onslow-Cole/Ben Gersekowski/Paul White/Gary Jacobsen
Other Class leaders
Class 3 – #34 APO Sport Porsche – Alex Osbourne/Paul May/James May (8th overall)
Class 4 – #60 SICL.com SEAT – Ashley Woodman/Martin Byford/Rob Cullum/Jonny Cullum (11th overall)
Class 5 – #66 WEC Motorsport SEAT – Gavin Spencer/Frank Pettit/Carey Lewis/Andy Ruthven (21st overall)