Fog enveloped the Silverstone International circuit on the Saturday morning and qualifying was delayed by around 40 minutes, then shortened to help make up the lost time.
TV celebrity chef Paul Hollywood made a welcome return to the Britcar grid, pairing with freshly-crowned British GT winner Andrew Howard in the Beechdean GT4 Aston Martin, and they put their car on the class 3 pole. Calum Lockie and David Mason again took overall P1 in the FF Corse Ferrari 458 over 5 seconds a lap faster than Mike Moss’s BMW E46 M3 in second.
With sunshine breaking through, incidents meant plenty of pit lane action in Race 1. First to retire was James Macintyre-Ure (competing in the simultaneous Trophy race) whose BMW M3 suffered both suspension damage and a cracked engine mount after a minor impact with Nick Holden’s Aerial Atom. Rob Hedley’s Holden V8 retired soon after to the side of Hangar Straight having been hit twice – a broken driveshaft meant the end of his day.
Tom Howard shared Mike Moss’ E46 M3 BMW and they took up the 2nd place spot behind the Ferrari, but Calum Lockie chose to retire the 458 as a precaution when a gearbox oil leak threatened a fire, leaving Luca Demarchi to take the lead in the Saxon Motorsport BMW 135D. Later, Nick Holden’s Atom suffered the same exhaust problems as at the previous round at Snetterton and escaping hot gases this time caused the rear splitter’s mountings to melt, forcing him into a long pitstop for repairs.
Just as he might have expected to land a podium finish, Demarchi’s Saxon Motorsport BMW was also forced to retire just 10 minutes before the end of the race.
Staying out of trouble and with only a minor spin at Vale with Chris Valentine at the helm, the Newbridge Boxster pairing of Fareed Ali and Valentine thus landed overall third with Nick Holden unable to quite catch the pair before the flag fell after 90 minutes.
The timetable had almost returned to its original schedule when Race 2 started, but Nick Holden’s Aerial Atom span at turn 1 to go wide, forcing Steve Glynn’s TVR (in the Trophy race) to take hasty avoiding action.
Taking over the Aston drive from Paul Hollywood, Andrew Howard was able to grab back some of the lead Calum Lockie had set in the Ferrari. Fareed Ali did well to avoid considerable oil spillage that ran the length of Hangar Straight, through Stowe and along the approach to Vale where the Atom’s engine had let go.
With the Atom’s unfortunate retirement, just three cars completed the 2nd endurance race of the day with the FF Corse Ferrari a comfortable couple of laps ahead of the Beechdean Aston of Hollywood and Howard. Fareed Ali brought the Newbridge Boxster home in third for the Boxster drivers’ second Endurance podium of the weekend.
Nick Holden’s misfortunes mean Lockie and Mason stretch their MSA British Endurance Championship lead a little further but their effective sixth place in Race 1 means the little Atom could still grab the title in the final round with a couple of wins if the Ferrari doesn’t return for the season conclusion at Donington in November.
Text: Chris Valentine; Photos: Stevie Borowik