The Britcar eSeries reconvenes for Round 2 on the Silverstone GP circuit on Thursday evening, featuring a two-race format, with the first race acting as a qualifying heat for the second feature race.
The opening races, at Spa a fortnight ago, highlighted the foibles of a virtual format, an equalisation, and that reality shows through as well – it’s as it is in real life, but then it’s not.
For instance, you would expect the Brabham BT62s to be at the front, and they were, David Brabham leading Will Powell to a 1-2 in the first race at Spa, while Powell took victory in Race 2. You would expect Sam Neary’s Mercedes to be in contention, and it was, the best of the rest both times. What you wouldn’t expect was a teenager with just one real-life race under his belt to take command and trounce the opposition, which was what Morgan Short did in Race 2, and neither would you expect an almost certain win for the youngster’s BMW Z4 to be cruelly thrown away by a rogue IT disconnection. Morgan’s performance came as no surprise though, to Will Powell; "He may not be an experienced real-life racer, but he’s Shorty’s son, and he’s done a whole lot of e-racing against some really quick kids, so he was always going to be fast." And Powell is sure that the BoP applied to the eSeries reflects reality. "Two BMW Z4 GT3 coming straight past on the Kemmel Straight, but the Brabham catching up in the twisty sections at Spa shows the organisers have done well balancing the attributes of the cars".
Brabham up the ante for this second round, fielding an additional two BT62s for Shaun Bennetts and F1, Le Mans, ALMS and WEC superstar Jan Magnussen. Bennetts is Brabham Automotive’s Director of Operations, and has played a significant role in engineering the BT62, and he will compete in the race from Adelaide, facing a 4am start and hoping connection and IT issues won’t stymie him, while Magnussen has obvious true racing credentials, being David Brabham’s team mate at Prodrive and Panoz in the early 2000s, and until recently a long-term Corvette exponent, as David explains: "It’s great news that Jan Magnussen is joining us in the Brabhan BT62 racing in the Britcar Dunlop Endurance eSeries presented by Brabham Automotive. Jan and I are not just old teammates that took on the big factory teams in the Panoz, but we are really close mates as well. It a pleasure to having him on board."
There are a number of Class 1 entrants, though, who will be planning to consolidate their opening-round performances, or make amends for earlier errors and confusion. Britcar regular Ben Sharich demonstrated his usual strong and reliable performance in the MacG Racing Glickenhaus, while team mate Isaac Raine displayed his virtual racing credentials, the teenage Rolls Royce apprentice making a storming recovery drive after an early clash. Team BRIT’s Andrew Tucker was also impressive in his Mercedes, but unable to stave-off comeback drives by Steve Burke’s Team Lizard BMW Z4 and the stunning Nathan Wells in his similar Digiplat Racing machine, while Alex Day (Mercedes) and Lee Frost (McLaren 650S) had up-and-down races, and we’ve yet to see the best of Chris Murphy and Chris Clarke, both in BMW Z4s.
Classes 2 and 3 merge for this event – VR Motorsport’s Al Boulton, in a Praga R1, and the GF Williams-entered Lotus Evora of Alain Remius took Class 2 wins apiece at Spa, though they were fighting on track with the Class 3 contingent, and that will no doubt be the same at Silverstone. In Race 2 at Spa, Team BRIT’s Bobby Trundley took an unflurried lights-to-flag class victory in his SEAT TCR, while in Race 1, the similar machines of David Farrow and James Rainford enjoyed a 15-minute epic battle for the class lead, joined later by James’s dad Charles to make it a three-way skirmish. Britcar regulars Graham Roberts, Sarah Moore (both in Ginetta G55s) and Max Coates (SEAT TCR) were getting to grips with the new format, coming alive as the racing progressed, and there were some surprise performances from the Britcar newcomers; James Bentley, with no competitive racing provenance in any form, we impressive in his SEAT, Shane Stoney made terrific cut-through from the back of the grid to trail Trundley’s class win in his Ginetta, and Peter Spano’s Porsche Cayman diced with Nicole Drought’s Ginetta through the late stages of the competition. The Ginettas of Jake Little and Darren Cook shall be looking to be on the pace at Silverstone, while Shields Bergstrom is taking long-distance racing to the letter, competing from the USA in his SEAT TCR.
So it was, and no doubt will be, just like the real thing, but then again, not. A heady mix of reality and fantasy, of finite skill and ham-fisted inelegance, and subject to electronic glitches just as sudden mechanical failure in the real world. For the time being, this is the new reality – enjoy it!