Keen takes a win as Club Enduro celebrates first year as a championship
As Club Enduro rounded out its first season as a championship, the paddock reflected on what a gem of a club-level endurance series had been created.
This two-hour event has become the feature of several 750 Motor Club weekends, boasting consistent grids of over 40 cars with great variety: Porsches, BMWS, Lotus, Mazdas and Ginettas among others.
The drivers involved have loved the number of entrants and the amount of track time on offer, making it good value for money.
Recently-crowned Class B champion Matt Faizey praised the club for the efforts put into the championship.
“Special mention needs to be given to the 750 Motor Club for putting together this incredible series and Giles [Groombridge, competitions manager] for having the bottle to do this,” he said. “This is a lot of track time to try and sell. He’s written a fantastic set of regulations, that can’t have been easy.”
As a regular in Roadsports, the 45-minute alternative endurance race, Sam Mckee says the championship status of Club Enduro is a big pull factor in his switch to the category for 2019.
“We’re definitely doing it next season,” he said. “The fact that it’s a championship as well is really nice, that’s the main reason we looked at it. Roadsports is good for your first couple seasons but we want to fight for overall honours.
“The fact that the entry fee is only twice as much [as Roadsports] but you’re getting 2.5 times the track time, plus being in an enormous feature race with 51 cars out there, is all great.”
British GT racer Phil Keen and Del Shelton’s BMW E36 M3 bested 49 other entrants to win the Snetterton finale. Shelton led from pole but a smaller fuel tank meant he could not afford an early pitstop during a safety car period half an hour into the race (for the SEAT Leon Cupra that pulled over with a gearbox issue), nor could the second-placed Porsche 997S driven by Michael Price. That gave an opportunity for Julian Mcbride and the Carl Readshaw/daniel Taylor and Andy Baylie/luke Schlewitz pairings the chance to reach the head of the field as they battled for the Class A championship in their respective BMW E46 M3s.
Eventually they had to yield to the likes of Keen for the top spot, with former British GT class champion Marcus Clutton, taking over from Price in the Porsche, claiming second and fellow ex-british GT racer Michael Bentwood putting his BMW M4, shared with Chris Brown, on the podium.
Despite a 30-second stop/go penalty for the Baylie/schlewitz BMW for overtaking under yellow flags, and a brief off at Riches during a heated battle with title rivals, an overall sixth was enough to claim the Class A title.
Meanwhile Steve Hewson/matt Nossiter’s BMW E36 328i Class C car was trying to beat Faizey’s Class B Porsche 968 to the overall title. While both won their respective classes, a fastest lap by Hewson gave him and Nossiter the necessary advantage to become Club Enduro’s inaugural champions.
“It was so tight coming into this, we really didn’t know how it was going to land,” Hewson said. “Faizey was flying in the second half of the season so we weren’t taking anything for granted coming here, but it was a clean race.”
Hewson and Nossiter became the inaugural Club Enduro champions