Simon Clark, in the FormEvo Clark Racing Porsche 997 made the most of the late race tricky conditions to take a popular win, to the acclaim of his many corporate guests. He had always been in the hint though, serving notice of intent on the very first lap, his Class 2 machine mixing it with the tail end Class 1 runners.
It was Ian Astley that starred in the first half of the race though; the usual Ginetta G56GTA that he shares with Neil Wallace had expired during Friday testing, so SVG boss Andy Johnson utlised his Ginetta skills to get a replacement machine delivered, which the team then spent Saturday reworking to Britcar specification. Undeterred, resurgent GT racer Astley then annexed pole by just 0.052 seconds over Mauricio Sciglio’s Datum Motorsport Ginetta, and planned to blast ahead to build a buffer before the pit window opened. And so he did, establishing a lead of 15 seconds before pitting, at the last possible moment to hand over to Wallace 14 laps in. Behind him, Axel van Nederveen had got the jump on Datum stablemate Sciglio into second place, and Clio title aspirants Andy Tucker and Jack Meakin were duking it out ahead of a gaggle of their classmates intermixed with the Class 3 contingent, headed by Ed Cook’s Honda Civic, ahead of Will Puttergill’s Civic, while Rob Elick was pitbound before the red lights went out, to sort a tyre issue on the TSR VW Golf.
There was no scramble immediately the pit window opened, surprising for just a short 10-minute opportunity, and once the field settled after the stops, Wallace retained the lead, and van Nederveen and Sciglio had to take their battle for second place past the squabbling Clios of Rob Gaffney and Simon Mason. Then, with 15 minutes to go, there were spots of rain – light at first, then a little heavier, and the Ginettas started to struggle on their dry-weather Direzzas. Wallace spun, losing the lead to van Nederveen, but seemingly undeterred in the conditions was Jim Edwards, in the Assetto Ginetta started by Julian Wantling, who had recovered in his opening stint after a tardy start, trading fastest laps with Astley before pitting with seconds to spare. Edwards moved up to second place, bringing Simon Clark’s nimble Porsche with him, but then had no answer to Clark, who breezed past round the outside of Wilsons hairpin, and off in pursuit of van Nederveen, who, lest we forget, has this season won every race he has contested, and never been passed for position on the track. But today, the Dutchman’s double crown slipped, and on the very last lap, Simon Clark made the move along the Bentley Straight to take a win that even surprised the startline officials, who dropped the chequered flag on van Nederveen, just over a second behind.
Behind van Nederveen, Jim Edwards showed his experience, hanging on to slides while the Datum contingent behind him exercised more caution (Sciglio) or tested the limits of grip (Marco Anastasi). Lee Goldsmith, in the brand new Geoff Steel Racing BMW E90 was getting into his stride when the rain came, and Neil Wallace struggled for grip in the unfamiliar Ginetta, while Callum Noble hang on gamely in the Thorney Motorsport BMW E46. In Class 2, Ken Briddon and Jackson Goodrun were runners-up in the County Classics Porsche 996, while in Class 3 Will Puttergill took the honours, his race-long battle with the Cook family Honda Civic being decided when Steve Cook was hauled in for a nine-second stop/go penalty, with Mark Jones claiming third in the TSR Golf started by Rob Ellick, which had an exemplary race following the first-lap pit stop. The needle at the top of the Clios continued – Jack Meakin and Rhys Lloyd won for Dragon Sport this time, 10 seconds ahead of the Andy Tucker / Max Coates High Row machine, though it was nip and tuck for most of the race, and in third place was race-returnee Rob Gaffney, the Amigo boss racing under the Spires Motorsport banner in a Dragon Sport car. Finishing off the class podium, but always involved, were Chris Bialan/ Simon Mason in the Sim Dynamics car, the Spires machine of Darren Geeraerts / Jonathan Christie-Rundle, and the father-and-son duo Steve and James Harrison, while sadly posting a DNF were Travis Coyne and Alex Neville.
Text: Steve Wood, photos: Paul Cherry.