The first quarter of the Dunlop 24 at Silverstone ended with teams and drivers trying to negotiate their way around a soaked track and all of the issues that come with it.
The rain – predicted before the race – arrived during the race’s fourth hour but increased in intensity until it was necessary to slow the field behind the Safety Car. The Safety Car was also needed to allow the recovery of those of the first drivers to be caught out by the changing conditions.
Some – led by class one runners MJC Ltd – tried to get ahead of the weather by changing onto wet tyres early but once the Safety Car came out after the #92 Team Russia by Barwell MARC Focus had gone off at Copse the pitlane became a very busy place.
The Ginetta, which built a three lap lead before the rain was one of the last cars to pit and though it lost little time initially the rain soon threw problems at the Team LNT crew. With Mike Simpson – the most experienced driver in the team – at the controls visibility became so poor that he needed to pit for the team to find a solution.
Rudimentary modifications were made, trying to improve the airflow into the cockpit and across the inside surface of the screen, the team finishing their work just before the green flag came out once again. Their visibility problems were compounded by their lights simply reflecting back off the clouds of spray.
The succession of stops under the cover of yellow flags cut their lead back to two laps over the Simpson Motorsport Audi. MJCs Ferrari reaped some of the rewards for their early tyre change, but was already on the move up the order before the rain started to fall. With a succession of laps under 2:10 the team started to move up on the top three. Despite themselves copping a 21 second stop-go penalty for pit lane speeding they took the position after pitstops for the Class 3 leading Beechdean AMR Vantage GT4 and the Marco Schelp Porsche team, the latter still fighting against a gearbox problem.
The #91 MARC Cars Australia entry held fifth at the end of six hours with the Beechdean Aston sixth overall – still leading Class 3.
Having had their problems inside of the first three hours the Radical Sportscars RXC had climbed to ninth by the quarter mark.
In Class 4 the pair of new look SEAT Leon Cup cars held first and second, though split by a lap. It was the St Bas Koeten Racing team that led the class from the SICL.com team. The British squad had been half of one of the closest battle on track before the rain, chasing down the Saxon Motorsport BMW 1-series. At the time the battle was ended when the SEAT squad came to the pits. As the race continued the Saxon Motorsport team would be another to suffer in the rain, slowing with a possible electrical problem that dropped them from the lead group in the class.
With their only realistic rivals in class parked in the garage after an early gearbox failure the Dutch Red Camel-Jordans.nl lead Class 5 comfortably.
2015 Dunlop 24 Hours at Silverstone overall standings after 6 hours:
1 – #12 Team LNT Ginetta – C1 – Lawrence Tomlinson/Chris Hoy/Mike Simpson/Charlie Robertson/Gaetan Paletau
2 – #8 Simpson Motorsport Audi – C1 – Peter Cook/Phillip Hopkins/Franck Pelle/Adam Sharpe/ Stephen Ritchie
3 – #4 MJC Ferrari – C1 – Witt Gamski/Joe Macari/Rory Butcher/Phil Dryburgh
4 – #14 Marco Schelp Porsche – C1 – Marco Schelp/Michael Tischner/Willie Moore/Jim Geddie/Glynn Geddie
5 – #91 MARC Cars Australia Ford – C2 – Tom Onslow-Cole/Ben Gersekowski/Paul White/Gary Jacobsen
Other Class leaders
Class 3 – #35 Beechdean Motorsport – Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam/Ross Gunn/Jamie Chadwick/Harry Whale (6th overall)
Class 4 – #50 Bas Koeten Racing – Karel Gils Bessen/roger Grouwels/Harry Hilders (10th overall)
Class 5 – #62 Red Camel – Jordans.nl – Ivo Breukers/Rick Breukers/Sjaco Griffoen (17th overall)