CARBON 8 COUPES CLASS OF BIRKETT RELAY FIELD
Narrowly beaten last year, gobsmacked Hyundai returnee Alex Cursley and event rookies Will Taylforth and Simon Miles landed a breathless one-lap victory in last Saturday’s gripping 750 Motor Club Birkett Six Hour Relay race at Silverstone.
On the track where the hallowed event was inaugurated in 1951, the trio emerged from a close fight between the top four of the 69 other entered teams.
Awarded two fewer credit laps than its sister team, which finished fourth, the Jon Winter-managed Carbon 8 Coupe Cup B squad pulled clear of the baying pack in the final hour, having been strong victory contenders in the diverse field, which boasted cars from Fabulous Fiat (750) Formula Cars to a Mini 7 Racing Club 50th anniversary team.
Red Rascals, one of two supercompetitive BMW E46 Cup teams which battled throughout, emerged runners-up. They also got the better of the Tegiwa M3 Cup ‘enemy’ by a lap of the 3.66-mile Historic Grand Prix Circuit in the concurrent scratch (distance) competition in the closing stages. When Luke Sedzikowski’s car lost power, Carl Shield dashed out again, but the M3s slipped to sixth.
DHD Motorsport’s Honda and Proton equipe, which featured two rorty Integras, and the Routec Racing Compact Triers – father Martin Roche with sons Simon and Neil – earned third and fifth, split by the second ultra-reliable Hyundai posse in the final reckoning.
The handicappers’ work was extraordinary. Their pre-race calculations (based on extensive records) and allocation of credit laps to balance performance produced a result in which the teams placed sixth to 18th were classified on the same total, with just 17 minutes under safety cars factored in.
Seven equipes, including one of Smart 4Twos, the Cheng Lim-managed Grunties – in which Geoff Hobbs’ Chevrolet Corvette Stingray commanded attention – and the Armed Forces Racing Challenge had covered 27 laps on corrected scores after an hour. The eventual victors sat ninth then as they acclimatised to traffic, including Scruffy Motorsport with Aquila Cars’ bizarre Synergys.
Saxos by Day’s fleet of Citroen VTRS were unusually unreliable, falling like flies, but incidents were remarkably few. The GRP Boys’ Darren Dowling changed his TVR Sagaris’s ’diff after practice, then smote the barriers on the Hangar Straight following a misunderstanding. Team-mate Wayne Crabtree’s beautiful 400bhp Ford Escort-yb turbocar erupted into flames later when a fuel line popped, but swift action by marshals at Becketts limited the damage.
From the rolling start, We Don’t Like Second’s Aaron Bailey – a member of the 2013 and ’14 scratch-winning teams – scorched his Radical-suzuki SR3RX 4.5 seconds clear of 750MC Bikesports champion Phil Knibb’s SR3 on the opening lap, but JPR Motorsport’s Paul Rose reeled Bailey in with his Subarupowered Saker, setting a superb 104mph fastest lap in their subsequent duel. Engine problems for Bailey precluded father Lee’s stint while the Saker trio’s aspirations to repeat its 2012 triumph faded when exhaust issues hobbled both surviving cars, the third Rapx having been trailered with an ECU fault after practice.
Fortunately, the Radicals of Simon Garmston (who drove most laps in his first Birkett) and returnees Brian Murphy and Doug Carter ran reliably thereafter, but the scratch victors finished only 60th on handicap. They outran Chris Tilly’s Tracktime Solutions set, whose SR3 was shared by Knibb, Travis drummer Neil Primrose – who drove a pacy second stint out front, then finished in the pitlane – and Ben Sharich, leaving Andrews Rath and Higginbottom short Lotus Exige runs, by four laps.
Rgb’argy lost Adrian Moore’s Sabre to a dropped valve in practice, so he shared pal Tim Hoverd’s T2A ‘Hoverdcraft’ evolution, the body of which they created. Their sterling efforts and those of Doug Lague (Spire) and Colin Chapman (BDN) netted a sensational third overall through a fast, feisty and trouble-free race. The resurgent Sakers certainly kept them on their toes, covering a lap fewer.
The Rock ‘N’ Roll Centres’ BMW E36 M3s, finished strongly by Piers Reid, won a tight scrap with the Allsorts Porsche and Caterhams for fifth. Out of luck were hardy perennials Gold Arts – whose ever-smiling leader Doug Newman’s 7 was halted by a collapsed wheel bearing on circuit – and Clubmans stalwarts Hart Attacks, underpinned by reigning sprint race champions Peter Richings and Barry Webb. The previous scratch and handicap winners finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Clubmans rivals The Defibrillators lost Alex Champkin’s Vision to engine failure in practice, then Antony Denham’s Phantom in the race. The crew also changed the clutch in Steve Dickens’ Mallock, but teenager James Clarke impressed, hurtling round as last man standing even when his U2’s brakes wilted after an oil leak had stopped Dickens.