Will Powell took another Britcar E-Series win in the first race on the Silverstone GP circuit on Thursday evening, but it wasn’t an easy ride for the Motus One boss – his Brabham BT62 had to fight for honours with the similar machines of David Brabham and Jan Magnussen, while once again teenagers Sam Neary (Mercedes) and Morgan Short (BMW Z4) came closest to taking the fight to the BT62s.
David Brabham led the field away from pole as the lights went out for the 30-minute race, with Powell snapping at his heels, while behind them the usual first-corner chaos saw the two Mercedes of Sam Neary and Andrew Tucker clash with Steve Burke’s BMW Z4, with Alex Day’s Mercedes also caught up in the melee. "I got a good start, but ended up in a Mercedes sandwich, and came off worse, then I was hit by a GT4 Porsche at Copse, which meant at the end of the first lap I was right at the back" rued Burke. And he wasn’t the only GT3 car relegated to the back of the field on that fraught first lap, as Glickenhaus driver Isaac Raine attests: "It was a bit chaotic at the start, I span after a clash with Andrew Tucker at Village, sending me right to the back" During that lap, Powell was poking the nose of his BT62 inquisitively around the leading machine of the marque boss.
The second lap was no less uneventful – a couple of more excursions for Tucker’s Mercedes were overshadowed by the action at the front of the field – only Short’s BMW was staying close to the three leading Brabhams, – "I knew it was going to be struggle to beat the Brabhams, I tailed them closely for a few laps, overtaking Jan at one point, but he made short work of me on the way back, as the BT62s were so strong under braking" said Short – with Nathan Wells’ BMW a lonely fifth, but at Copse, Powell made a bid for the lead down the inside- there was contact, which sent David Brabham’s BT62 off into the gravel, and Jan Magnussen made his move on the unsettled Powell, seizing the lead. Young Morgan Short also sensed an opportunity, challenging Powell for a short spell before the Brabham driver recovered to his true pace, while the fourth BT62 of engineer Shaun Bennetts had taken Sam Neary’s Mercedes for seventh place. As at the front, so it was towards the rear of the field – American multi-champion Shields Bergstrom, in a SEAT TCR, had his mirrors full of the kerb-hopping similar car of Clio Cup star Max Coates – there was contact , and Coates got ahead, while at the head of the Class 2 contingent, Charles Rainford, in a Ginetta G55 this time, was ahead of James Rainford’s SEAT, while Shane Stoney’s Ginetta was not letting them get away.
In fact, at the halfway point of the race, there was a four-way battle for the Class 2 runner-up spot; Stoney had got ahead of James Rainford, and they had been caught by two stars of the previous Spa rounds, David Farrow’s Ginetta G55 and the SEAT of Team BRIT’s Bobby Trundley. The four were together, and three abreast through Village just didn’t work, Stoney and Rainford made contact, and Farrow capitalised, taking them both. This was a tussle that would continue, with Trundley not giving up, and making moves throughout the lap. By this time, David Brabham had been mounting a recovery drive, getting back up to fourth after taking Wells’ wide BMW at Brooklands, and then Will Powell seized the lead, leaving Magnussen around four seconds adrift, with Short’s third place being challenged by David Brabham, who himself was coming under attack from Sam Neary, who grabbed the position at Stowe in the closing 10 minutes of the race.
David Farrow’s second place in Class 2 was tenuous – Shane Stoney soon grabbed it as Farrow’s Ginetta dropped back, and was then caught up in a near miss as Andrew Tucker’s Mercedes rejoined the track after an off, the red Ginetta spun in avoidance, collecting James Rainford’s SEAT as it took to the grass, and letting Trundley through to a potential class podium.
Nicole Drought had been hanging the tail out in her CCJ/Valluga Ginetta G55 to make a drifter proud, but a clash with Sarah Moore’s Tockwith G55 saw her in the barriers, and rejoin. Sam Neary’s Mercedes had caught some traffic in the shape of Alain Remius’ Lotus Evora as the clock ticked down to the finish, and David Brabham had never lost touch, so the BT62 made an attempt at Brooklands – there was contact, which saw Brabham grab the place as Neary half-spun, and recovered. And the Class 2 podium was still in dispute, as the third-place contenders battled into the final lap. Jake Little’s Ginetta had been closing in on James Rainford’s SEAT, and David Farrow had recovered, and as the trio went into the final corner, Little squeezed through on the inside to snatch the final podium spot, while Rainsford went wide o to the kerb, and Farrow speared even wider, collecting the SEAT on the run-off area.
So Will Powell took another victory for the Brabham BT62, just over 10 seconds ahead of stablemate Jan Magnussen, with Morgan Shorts BMW Z4 less than a second adrift of the experienced F1 and WEC driver, another impressive performance from the St Ives teenager, who shared his thoughts on the race: " David was able to catch up towards the end of the race, but I took a risk overtaking two Class two cars in one at Stowe and pulled out a five second gap as Brabham got held up, which was enough to see me take P3 at the line, less than a second behind Jan as he had an incident on the final lap."
Powell was delighted to win on his "home" circuit, the Motus One operation being based at Silverstone, on a track configuration that suits the BT62; "The Brabham’s attributes suit the Silverstone GP circuit, high downforce and big braking areas, and I suppose I must apologise to David for punting him off, it was a racing incident, I went for a gap and he closed it! David is unflappable though, he laughed it off".
David Brabham and Sam Neary trailed the top three, nearly half a minute ahead of sixth-placed Nathan Wells, who had more or less held station for most of the race, while a last-lap issue for Ben Sharich saw his MacG Racing Glickenhaus fall back behind fourth Brabham of Shaun Bennetts (who has been instrumental in developing the SIM version of the BT62 and was competing from Adelaide in the early hours of the morning) and MacG team-mate Isaac Raine, who had posted another recovery drive. "It was a complete disaster" said the usually solid Sharich after the race, adding "Race pace was hard work trying to keep up but at least we were closer. I got run into several times, the biggest of which took me out of sixth place from 12th on the grid. Then on the last lap I lost it out of Stowe, even now I can’t understand why it snapped as I wasn’t pushing at all", while Raine commented "Overall I’m pretty happy with it, despite the fact that both myself and Ben could’ve finished higher up. Recovering made for a fun race though as I was able to come back up to 10th in about 10 minutes which was exciting! Caught up to the battle for seventh between Ben and Shaun Bennetts and was within a second of them at Brooklands with about five minutes to go. Nicole Drought rejoined the track perpendicular to me in the middle of the corner so I had to slam on my brakes, falling about three seconds behind them".
Alex Day endured a few excursions in his Mercedes, but made amends with last-lap grab of for position from Steve Burke’s BMW Z4, who had a troubled finish after a recovering from his first-lap issues: "I had to fight my way back up to 10th but had to fuel- save like mad on the last lap and was overtaken on the line to finish 11th.
In Class 2, Charles Rainford proved the class of the field in his CCK Ginetta G55, leading an untroubled race from lights to flag – "I knew I had to get a good start and stay out of trouble, thankfully got away well and even managed to pass a few Class 1 cars in the first few corners of the race and had a good battle with them for a while, unfortunately the straight line speed of the GT3’s was just a bit much for my Ginetta, and from there it was a rather lonely race for me" – while Shane Stoney, over half a minute behind in his Quattro Motorsport Ginetta, nonetheless had an enjoyable race; " I had a fantastic battle with the TCRs and Dave Farrow, lots of side by side racing, it was a real challenge to try and find a way past without getting mugged by the cars behind. The Ginetta is good in the corners but the TCR is so fast in a straight line, it’s hard to make a move stick. Shame Dave got caught up with a back marker as it was looking like a good battle for second." Bobby Trundley’s third place came out of hard-fought battle with James Rainford, and Jake Little tagged on right at the end, as he explains: "I had a quiet start after avoiding the first corner chaos, settled into a good rhythm and was happy with my pace, then got really lucky with a collision ahead and managed to make the most of it with a pass for fourth in the final corner! Massive thanks to everyone at Britcar for organising the event and looking forward to the next one".
Outside of the front runners, all other competitors had their own tussles, their own issues, their own glory and disappointment, which sadly cannot be seen from the spectator’s aspect of the game, but which was graphically displayed by the footage available from Shields Bergstrom’s live feed from his SEAT TCR. A number of Britcar real-life race winners Al Boulton, Sarah Moore, Graham Roberts, Max Coates – have yet to figure in the top results. VR Motorsport’s Al Boulton offers some explanation: "The Praga currently in Assetto Corsa is a model of the road version of the R1S which is lower powered than the non turbo R1S. Another thing I’ve noticed is that the Praga is a bit tricky on the limit in the game. To add a bit more insight, sim racing is a different skill and to be a top race driver these days you need to be good at both. I guess it can depend on driver, if you like to drive through the ‘feel in the seat of your pants’ then sim racing does take a while to get used to as you have different senses to rely on. I’m getting better but definitely need more practice".
Also enjoying – or enduring – the race were Chris Clarke (BMW Z4), Alain Remius (Lotus Evora), Peter Spano (Porsche Cayman), James Bentley (SEAT), and Darren Cook in the Team BRIT Ginetta G55.
Watch the full race on our YouTube channel.