As a racing fan, attending Silverstone on a sunny June day watching GT cars battle it out in a endurance race is one of life’s pleasures. The race in question has a grid of 30 plus cars with a multi class format with marquees such as Ferrari, Porsche, Ginetta and Aston Martin and professional and gentlemen drivers mix it with star names.
I am not attending the World Endurance championship, Blancpain series or the even the British GT championship, I am at the Silverstone round of the Britcar Dunlop Endurance championship on the full Grand Prix circuit.
The Britcar championship has been in a rebuilding process since James Tucker sold the race series to Rob and Claire Hedley at the end 2015. The championship has regained interested from competitors and this can be put to down to some key points.
Claire explains, “One day meetings, two races, T.V coverage and hospitality”. Rob and Claire listened to what the competitors wanted and have done their best to accommodate their needs. A championship needs foundations to build on and that comes with stability. “Stick to your rules, which is what we have done and they seem to be working as we have good numbers in classes one through to five”.
Claire assures me that the rules will stay the same for the foreseeable future. Consistent rules will be appealing to competitors as with the ever increasing financial strain on motorsport teams, being able to budget for the future is attractive.
That is not the only attracting feature of Britcar, why do teams race there? Johnny McGregor whose MacG racing squad earned a well deserved outright podium with their unique Taranis said “The eclectic mix of cars mixed with endurance racing is why we choose Britcar”. Johnny goes on to say “We really enjoy endurance racing as the pit strategies add an extra layer of complexity over a traditional sprint race”.
Neil Garner Motorsport’s Javier Morcillo explains why he likes racing the teams Mosler in Britcar “The simplicity and pureness of the championship, you can race any car” Morcillo goes on to say “If the organisers do a good job and the system is fair them everyone can have fun racing”. Does that make the series perfect for the Mosler? “Any car really, the good thing is you can race any car and it will be put to the test”.
The quality of the grid is clear to see. Top GT racing squad FF Corse lined up at Silverstone with three beautifully prepared Ferrari 458 Challenge cars which were piloted by GT ace Johnny Mowlem in one and Callum Lockie in sister car. Lockie, who during the endurance race at Silverstone was a joy to watch in the opening laps as he stormed ahead of the field in order to build a lead for his gentleman driver team mate David Mason.
Team Hard better known for the BTCC have also added an extra element in the Britcar championship by fielding three Ginetta G55’s for some young drivers trying to make their mark on the GT racing scene. Which is becoming more attractive to young drivers as the GT and sportscar racing scene is booming.
2009 and 2010 Britcar champion Witt Gamski left the series but recently returned in a glorious Ferrari 458 GTE. “I returned for the main reason that it is a good and relaxed championship, driving standards and the race durations are good” Gamski is also keen to note how the new organisers are making a difference “The organisers are good to deal with and the entries are varied so there are lots of different cars and drivers”.
The diversity of the Britcar field is one of the appealing features. At the Silverstone meeting the range of cars went from Ferrari GTE all the way to a Smart Forfour and everything in between. Le mans team Beechdean often enter an Aston Martin GT4 and even won the last Britcar run Silverstone 24 hour race outright before Creventic took over. Beechdean fielded British Bake Off star Paul Hollywood at Silverstone in what came across as a relaxed and happy team.
The Britcar calendar of the championship had eight rounds at five different venues. The championship does visit Silverstone three times but each time on a different layout of the circuit. The national circuit this year will be joining Brands Hatch as a night race. Clare explains “The entries from the Brands Hatch night race last year were good and the reaction from the teams was that they loved it. I enquired with Silverstone about a night race supporting the Walter Hayes trophy and it fitted perfectly with our calendar”.
If the trend of the Silverstone GP circuit meeting continues then Britcar looks set to continue to grow. The teams are getting what they want and asked for and the atmosphere in the paddock and pitlane was relaxed and happy. The new leadership of Rob and Clare Hedley are holding the Britcar ship steady in a competitive GT racing environment. Their passion for endurance racing looks set to help Britcar not just survive but thrive in the coming years.
Chris Brown (@cbrownmsport)
Photographs by Eric Barnes (@Barneshawimages)