The all new Britcar Prototype Series has launched at Silverstone with a dominating weekend for Ginetta boss, Lawrence Tomlinson. Driving the Yorkshire manufacturers new G57 prototype, Tomlinson topped the timesheets in all three competitive sessions during the opening round of the championship designed to allow owners of anything from Rileys to Wolf CN cars.
The brand new series raced in support of the brand new Touring Car Endurance Series from Creventic, whose 40+ car entry conspired to make the eight car field of prototypes look positively diminutive. The four G57s, two Radical SR8s one Riley MkXXII TDC and a single Radical RXC Spyder proved however it only takes two cars to make a race, thrilling even RadioLeMans.com’s front man John Hindhaugh with two one hour clashes.
In qualifying all looked set for a surprise with the RH Motorsport Radical SR8 of Alex Kapadia leading the vastly more powerful machines behind despite not participating in free practice at the start of the Saturdays action. Kapadia struck early in the class 2 machine he shares with Paul Spencer, leaving the Nigel Mustill owned, Craig Dolby driven Riley just the wrong side of two minutes and frustrated in second place.
All Dolby’s best efforts couldn’t convince the DP-style V8 brute to drop under the magical 120 second barrier. Neither could Algarve Pro Racing’s pairing of Michael Munemann and legendary Olympian Sir Chris Hoy who lined up in third as the session headed towards the close, also in a G57, with the identically equipped Paul White in fourth. Fifth was set to go to a brand spanking new Radical RXC Spyder in the hands of Mike Smith, shared with James Hanson, while Osman Yusef of British GT Championship fame rounded out the back of the grid in his SR3 from RAW Motorsport.
Tomlinson was eager to impress so while other crews continue to circulate, he came to pit lane for fresh Dunlop slicks before turning it up to eleven for a last gasp run at pole. The LS3 V8 provided all the grunt he needed to put half a second between his #20 machine and the #32 SR8 of Kapadia. Dolby’s best effort was over two and a half seconds behind the businessman from the north.
Race one lined up for the start with seven cars and Tomlinson immediately took advantage of his pole position to blast away from the line. Kapadia however got an even better start in his motorcycle engined SR8 and took up the lead of the motor race, pulling away to a lead of over fifteen seconds by the time the pit lane opened for mandatory pit stops. A second stop for the #32 machine to correct a problem with the seat belts donned by Paul Spencer handed Tomlinson the advantage, but he didn’t know.
The Ginetta was also suffering problems, communicative issues rather than safety, and the team were unable to radio Tomlinson to let him know he had taken control of the race. Tomlinson told Steve Wood from Britcar, “I didn’t know where I was, I had no radio. I thought the Radical was still in the lead and didn’t realise the race had finished until I saw the chequered flag.”
The battle for the final podium spot was also interesting with Dolby building a cushion in the first stint only to be face with a fast and frisky Paul White after the stops. A thrilling battle in the dying minutes of the hour saw the Ginetta G57 take the flag by just 0.803 seconds. It was just icing on the cake to find that the battle for third was actually for second after the pit stop problems for Spencer and Kapadia.
The #32 car was severely disadvantage by its issues, not only losing out on an almost certain overall podium, or maybe even a win, but missing the top spot in class too. Ossy Yusef claimed the top spot in class 2 while the RXC struggled. An impressive opening stint from James Hanson of European Touring Car Championship fame came to naught when Mike Smith got behind the wheel and struggled for pace. The Radical dropped behind the third G57 of Munemann and Hoy who fell off the lead lap at the start of the race following an astonishingly quick gearbox change from Algarve Pro Racing.
Colin White made it an eight car grid for the race, arriving just before the pit stops to a nicely warmed G57 waiting in pit lane. The factory entered G57 driver had been busy in the morning, missing out on practice and qualifying while busy in Kent, attending to his full season drive in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup. A four hour slog in the M25 gridlock left him little time in the car to pull back the sixteen laps he lost in traffic.
The second race also went the way of Lawrence Tomlinson but he really had to work for it in the Saturday encounter. A messy start saw Ossy Yusef pushing the pace towards the lights and in the jostling for position it was Dolby who got the best launch. Of course, being a sportscar race it was a rolling start. It took three laps for Tomlinson to get ahead of the Riley but when he did he dragged the #32, again started by Kapadia, with him.
Mike Smith’s brand new Radical was the first to retire, dropping out on lap three after James Hanson misjudged one of Silverstone’s few big kerbs. The front splitter was torn from the car on its debut weekend and the team opted to park the car rather than risk further damage to the £120k beast. Colin White’s traffic travails proved all for naught too when alternator failure stopped his charge early on.
Tomlinson and Kapadia continued to battle at the head of the field as the mandatory stops approached. The SR8 and the G57 traded places regularly until the little car that could finally managed to make a small break. The two lead cars pitted on lap 17 with Kapadia holding a six second advantage. That left Sir Chris Hoy in the lead for a lap before he brought the Algarve Pro Racing machine to the lane.
Once the stops settled out it was Paul White who held the lead of the race, aided by a weight advantage afforded him by the missing right hand front wheel arch and headlight of his G57. The same kerb that finished the RXC had claimed a souvenir of Whites passing too. He was also aided by a very late stop, once he came to the pits Tomlinson was back on top with Michael Munemann in second place and Paul Spencer in third.
Craig Dolby’s Riley and the G57 of Colin White were hunting in a pack though and made short work of the SR8. Soon after White got past the Riley to claim the final podium spot while Dolby placed as the last in a solid block of the four surviving class 1 cars.
Spencer held on to the top spot in class 2 with Ossy Yusef sharing the podium. Both of the cars to retire failed to make the minimum distance and didn’t classify.
The championship now heads to Donington Park on 17 July with the two other Britcar championships, the Dunlop Endurance Championship and Dunlop Production Championship racing at Snetterton in May.