David Brabham and Will Powell, in their Brabham BT62s, posted a convincing 1-2 victory in Britcar’s inaugural e-series race at Spa-Francorchamps. The pair locked out the front row of the grid, and were away at the head of the field once the lights went out for the standing start, with Brabham in the lead. Powell kept in touch, less than half a second behind, even making a move at Les Combes early on, but Brabham eked out a two-second margin, and the pair held position until the flag fell at the end of the 30-minute race. Sam Neary, in the Team Abba Mercedes GT3, could find no answer to the leading Brabhams, and maintained a lonely third place throughout the race.
Behind them, though, it was a story of heroics, errors and misinterpretation.
Newcomer Isaac Raine, in one of the two MacG Racing Glickenhaus cars, spun in the pack as they rounded La Source for the first time, and the ensuing midfield melee caught up the SEATs of James and Charles Rainford, and saw Alex Day’s Mercedes dramatically rear-up into the barrier. No retirements though, this is virtual racing, and all were on their way, with Lee Frost’s McLaren and Nicola Drought’s Ginetta capitalising on the carnage and moving up the order. Ben Sharich, in the other MacG Glickenhaus, had escaped the first corner action, and held fourth place, whilst behind him an impressive David Farrow, in the EDF Motorsports Ginetta G55, was being chased by a recovering James Rainford’s SEAT. These two would provide the highlight of the race, for nearly a quarter of an hour they were nose-to-tail and side-by-side, clean driving with not a hint of contact.
The two McLarens in the race, of Sean Cooper and Lee Frost, had spins, then fourth-placed Ben Sharich slowed dramatically coming onto the Kemmell Straight, allowing the squabbling Farrow and Rainford to pass, though they themselves were being hounded by Alex Day, on a recovery mission in his Mercedes, the three of them battling into Les Combes, where Day used his power to pull away. So what was the issue for Sharich? "I slowed because I badly misinterpreted the rules on track limit penalties – I should have taken the penalty later in the lap where I would have lost a lot less time. I let the Class 3 cars past because, though my penalty had just elapsed, they were coming into view, so I thought the safest option was to keep out of their way – there had been enough bumping and barging already and I didn’t want to cause any more".
Alex Day threw away his recovery with a couple of spins, Ben Sharich got his fourth place back, and Charles Rainford was closing up on the battle between his son James and David Farrow, and in further Class 3 action, first-timer James Bentley’s SEAT took the Porsche Cayman of Peter Spano for 13th, and Max Coates was just ahead in his DAT Racing SEAT, whilst in Class 1 both Lee Frost and Alex Day made pit visits, and Isaac Raine was moving up after his first-lap spin.
Farrow surprisingly opted-out of his skirmish with James Rainford, pitting his Ginetta at the half-way stage of the race, another case of misinterpretation: " Driver error – I didn’t realise that the preceding session was qually, I thought it was free practice as I was late jumping on the server, hadn’t put fuel in, so when I was put on the grid for the race, I was shocked, and had to box during the race for fuel." So, David playing the real Britcar game, with pit stops, even in the virtual world.
Al Boulton, the lone Class 2 runner in the VR Motorsport Praga, was coming up to pass the SEAT of Max Coates, who was coming alive in the second half of the race. A lunge at Les Combes left the Praga spinning, and the progress over. David Farrow was fighting back after his pit stop, now back on the tail of the two Rainford SEATs, while Graham Roberts, in the other EDF Ginetta, was tussling with James Bentley for 11th place.
The closing minutes saw Isaac Raine consolidate his race-long recovery drive, taking Farrow and the Rainfords to finish fifth behind MacG team mate Sharich, and leaving James Rainford to claim Class 3 honours, ahead of father Charles, and the unlucky David Farrow, what a race they had given us. Max Coates trailed the top three, leading Bentley, who had got ahead of Boulton’s Praga and Roberts’ Ginetta, home, while Nicola Drought eventually shook off Spano’s Porsche. Sarah Moore, in a Tockwith Ginetta G55, took Alex Day’s troubled Mercedes on the last lap, with Sean Cooper’s McLaren and Dale Albutt’s Ginetta G55 completing the field.
Watch the race on YouTube.