Tockwith Motorsport duo Nigel Moore and Philip Hanson claimed victory in the first race of the new Prototype Cup at Snetterton.
The British pair, driving the #26 Ligier LMP3, dominated the 60 minute race to create a slice of history as the first ever winners in the UK’s new prototype series.
Second place went to Bradley Smith and Christian England in the West-Tec entered Ligier, with Smith crossing the line 22.293 seconds behind Moore.
The start of the race saw Hanson streak away to a 10 second lead from pole position, with European LMP3 champion England leading the closely bunched chasing pack.
After Hanson’s break, England started to reel in the red and white Ligier, halving the initial gap to just five seconds before the mandatory round of pit stops.
Tockwith decided to bring Hanson into the pits at the first opportunity to give Moore plenty of time in the car.
That was the only time Tockwith relinquished the lead of the race, with Shaun Lynn staying out until the end of the pit window in the Gulf-liveried United Autosports Ligier.
When Lynn inevitably came in, Moore assumed the lead and proceeded to lengthen the gap between himself and Smith in second.
It was the first LMP3 victory for Tockwith Motorsport, after the team narrowly missed out on top honours at the Paul Ricard and Spa rounds of the European Le Mans Series.
“We had a great race,” said Moore. “Phil got a fantastic start after doing an excellent job to put the car on pole so we’re really happy.”
“We did a bit of testing before this weekend to get to know the track, so putting it on pole and then winning is just great. It was also good to keep the car in one piece before we head off to the Asian Le Mans Series in a couple of days.”
“The Prototype Cup is really promising. If LMP3 takes off anything like it has done in Europe I think it will be an absolutely amazing series to have racing on Britain’s top circuits.”
England and Smith’s second place came after a frantic period before the race when a mechanical failure befell England’s original car.
West-Tec then placed England in the car, which was initially intended for Smith to share with Shaun Balfe.
“We were thrown in at the deep end this weekend with the late driver swap, so we’ll take second,” said England.
“I was originally supposed to race with Colin Noble but we had a mechanical issue on the car so it couldn’t run.”
“Then a seat opened up in Bradley’s car so I took that at short notice and we ended up running a good race.”
“These are proper racing cars. They look good, sound good and I think the Prototype Cup next year is going to be really popular. I certainly hope that I’m going to be a part of next year’s series.”
Smith echoed his team-mate’s sentiments after a promising first race for West-Tec in LMP3.
“It was difficult jumping in at short notice after racing yesterday – I was on top of the lorry putting the awning up when I got asked if I wanted to give it a go!” he said.
“West-Tec worked flat out to get the car ready for myself and Christian. There was a lot to take on board during the first laps in the dry but I settled into a decent rhythm towards the end and with more testing I reckon we could definitely challenge for some wins.”
Third place went to the United Autosports Ligier driven by Jay Palmer and Wayne Boyd. After a busy start racing in the middle of the pack, Palmer handed over to Boyd who hammered out the fastest lap of the race – a 1:43.887 – to assert a place on the podium.
In fourth was the Belgian/English pairing of Jacques Duyver and Charlie Hollings, who finished 1 minute 20 seconds down on the leader.
Guy Cosmo and Patrick Byrne completed the top five in their all-American United Autosports Ligier after Cosmo held off a late charge by Thomas Randle in the Douglas Motorsport car started by Mike Newbold.
Randle lost time at the beginning of his stint when he had to serve a 10 second stop-go penalty for a pit lane infringement.
The Australian single seater driver was able to claw back the time to reach Cosmo, but couldn’t find a way past as the seasoned prototype racer held on to edge the place by two tenths of a second.
In seventh place and a lap down was the Gulf coloured Ligier piloted by Shaun Lynn.