Downforce combined with Dunlop wets helped the Hanson and Moore Audi R8 grab pole in the damp qualifying session from a season-best grid of 18 cars. Table toppers Calum Lockie and David Mason had entered the weekend on the verge of taking the MSA Endurance title for a second year running and were happy to complete qualifying 4th overall, needing only finishes to ensure their title success.
Intersport brought a Porsche 991 Cup with Mark Radcliffe guesting for this round to get used to the model he’ll be racing with them in Carrera Cup next season. In the same garage were Kevin Clarke’s and Mike Moss’s familiar BMW M3s. FF Corse were to run two Ferrari 458 Challenge cars, the red Mason/Lockie car joined by Ivor Dunbar and Johnny Mowlem in the blue #25 as guests. Also guesting were a pair of drivers from the Nissan Academy programme: Matthew Simmons and Frenchman Romain Sarazin piloting a GT4-spec 370Z.
The TeamBRIT VW Golf of Martyn Compton and Mark Allen, and the Anglo/Canadian pairing of Chris Valentine and Fareed Ali, ran from the Newbridge garage, both cars present to complete their first season of racing.
Four cars accepted the invitation to run in non-championship Trophy races, starting from the same grid as Endurance as per the previous round at Silverstone. Entries included a Holden V8, piloted by Alex Sidwell, joining the two Chevrolet CR8s that will be part of the new UKV8 series that kicks off next season.
Race one and despite a drying track, everyone assumed more rain was due and started out on wets. The Audi R8 – being a GT3 spec with centre-lock wheels – made an early decision to quickly change to slicks and other teams followed suit, including the two FF Corse Ferrari 458s.
Luca Demarchi was a DNF in his diesel BMW 135D on lap 40, robbing him of any chance of beating Mike Moss to the Sport and Touring overall crown, and later the #50 VW Scirroco of Darelle Wilson expired at Craners but was seen to by the marshals in a couple of laps under yellows.
Up front, Calum Lockie gave chase to the Rollcentre Z4 of Neary and Short, finally paring the gap down to get the better of the BMW on lap 29. Nigel Moore’s Audi R8 clawed its way back through the field to take third, posting the fastest lap in the process despite the trying conditions.
Jono Brown took the Trophy win in the dimiutive Chevron GR8 with Peter Challis’ Porsche 997 Cup still second, despite an 18 second penalty for an under-timed pitstop.
Race 2 – the last of the day – saw an almost completely dry track and all teams set out on slicks. Again the Abba/Rollcentre BMW Z4 quickly pulled into a lead with Calum Lockie in the red Ferrari around a second behind. Mark Radcliffe held on to third until lap 7 in the 991 Cup.
On lap 10, the white #88 BMW M3 landed in the Goddards chicane gravel, too deep to extract itself, and the safety car was deployed for two laps, sufficient time for the entire field to bunch up again. When the safety car withdrew it was again the Rollcentre Z4 that pulled away to lead with Lockie giving chance until he pitted for David Mason to take his stint.
Martyn Compton pitted the TeamBRIT Golf and although the changeover took an age, team mate Mark Allen was soon putting in impressive times to guide the Golf to 8th overall, three laps ahead of the Boxster of Fareed Ali.
The overall podium was a duplicate of that from Race 1 with Richard Neary and Martin Short taking the win in the Z4, followed by the #25 Ferrari 458 of Ivor Dunbar and Johnny Mowlem with the Audi R8 GT3 of Hanson and Moore in third. Mike Moss and Sarazin/Simmons took class wins. Mark Radcliffe’s Porsche 991 Cup received a post-race disqualification for a pitstop infringement.
In the Trophy races, Jono Brown again took the win ahead of Peter Challis in the Porsche.
And thus Calum Lockie and David Mason were again crowned MSA Dunlop Endurance champions of 2015 with Mike Moss taking the Sports and Touring title.
Tribute was rightly paid to Britcar founder James Tucker whose new venture for 2016 is a series for the Chevrolet CR8s that have appeared in the Trophy Championship this season. Britcar now moves forward under the stewardship of Claire Hedley and husband Rob.
Text Chris Valentine; photos Stevie Borowik