Nigel Hudson and Adam Wilcox, driving the JMH-prepared Aston Martin Vantage GT3, posted a convincing overall win in the short 50-minute meeting-opener, finishing nearly 15 seconds ahead of Class 2 victors Bonamy Grimes and Johnny Mowlem’s ff Corse Ferrari 458 Challenge, while stablemates Marc Brough and Andrew Bentley claimed Sprint category honours in a similar machine.
It might have been different at the front-end of the race though – young Ross Wylie, sharing Witt Gamski’s Ferrari 458 GTE, had served notice of intent in qualifying, claiming pole at a last-ditch attempt nearly half a second ahead of Wilcox’s best time in the Aston, but an early race incident meant the powerful Ferrari had a long task ahead. These two, in fact, were over two seconds in front of the rest of the field in qualifying, though a delighted Mowlem’s third-place grid slot caused him to comment "really pleased with class pole, this is the fastest a challenge-spec car has gone around this circuit".
Calum Lockie was disappointed with his fourth-placed time in the GT3-Spec Ferrari 458, and he was ahead of a phalanx of ff Corse Class 2 machinery, split by the Cunningham’s Class 3-leading Porsche 997 (they would be in for an impressive raceday), then the Moss/Adam BMW M1, and the Team HARD Ginetta quartet, their internecine squabbles being covered by just over two seconds, and headed by the Rudd/Barley combination. Team Eureka had "found it" after a disappointing opening meeting at Silverstone last month, with the flame-spitting Hudson/Medeiros Class 4 BMW M3 ahead of Sprint-category class mate Ed Moore’s Tockwith Ginetta G50. Class 3 runners Murphy/Gibbs (Aston Martin GT4) and Nevison/Cherrington (Porsche Cayman) filled the next slots, then the Class 5 contingent, the Alyn James/Dan Wheeler Synchro Honda Civic, and the Woodard Racing Mini Cooper of Daniel Woodard and Davie Birrell.
The flame-spitting Hudson/Medeiros Class 4 BMW E46 M3
Witt Gamski made the most of his front row position as the red lights went out at the rolling start – "It was a real drag race up to the first corner" he said later (as confirmed by Daniel Woodard in the Mini Cooper, who also out-dragged several cars on the run into Riches) – the Pole converting pole into the race lead as the pack stormed into Riches, but Calum Lockie was a fast-starter from row two, and was in the lead as they crossed the line for the first time. Gamski spun in the first-lap melee at Murrays – Nigel Hudson apologetically admitted to an unavoidable tap from the Aston – and rejoined in 15th place with some work to do. Despite nursing a serious ankle injury, he was up to seventh place before taking a pit-stop at the earliest opportunity, handing over the Wylie for a 30-minute stint. By this point, Toby Bearne had retired his Team HARD Ginetta G55 with oil pressure problems, Jamie Stanley was an impressive third behind the big Aston, and Mike Wilds had been heading a trio of close-coupled ff Corse Ferraris, fending off Bonamy Grimes and Leyton Clarke.
The halfway point signalled the majority of pit stops – ff Corse and Team HARD needing to synchronise their multi-car teams, though Anthony Cheshire’s outfit was assisted by Lockie and Clarke staying out until the maximum stint window was about to be bolted shut, Mark Cunningham doing similarly in the SG Racing Porsche.
It wasn’t long after the pit stops that Wilcox, now in the Aston, had rapidly hauled-in Mason’s Ferrari and taken the lead, and within a few laps Mowlem (having replaced Grimes), Dino Zamparelli (in for Wilds) and Ross Wylie were through too. Zamparelli, though, had a problem in the #9 Ferrari and was cruising, coming to a halt just before the finishing line on the very last lap due to fuel feed issues. By this time Wilcox had taken the flag, with Johnny Mowlem just over 14 seconds adrift, and Wylie just a tenth of a second shy of taking second place after a stunning recovery drive. Adam Wilcox had capitalised on a solid first stint in the Aston by Nigel Hudson and with typical subtlety said on the podium "I just kept out of trouble and brought it home".
Rudd and Barley’s class win kept the pair pinned to the top of the Championship table
Fourth in the Endurance category was the Graham Lucking/Leyton Clark 458, and in Class 3 it was a clean sweep of the podium for Team HARD, though with a little assistance from a 30-second penalty awarded to Peter and Mark Cunningham’s Porsche – the 997 had taken a short-timed pit stop, and whilst they had been caught by the Simon Rudd/Tom Barley and Angus Dudley/Callum Hawkins-Row Ginetta G55s, the Darron Lewis/Tom Knight car lucked-in due to the infringement. Mike Moss’s unique BMW 1M, shared with Scott Adam, is still in development to run competitively with the Class 2 Ferraris, and the Whitebridge Aston Martin Vantage of Chris Murphy/Dean Gibbs is yet to get on terms with the Team HARD Ginettas in Class 3, leaving the Team Eureka BMW M3 of Rob Hudson and Adriano Medeiros to dice amongst them on its way to the Class 4 win, while in Class 5 the Synchro Honda Civic of Alyn James and Dan Wheeler took their first win of the season, and a late pit-stop to investigate a wheel bearing issue on the Woodard Mini Cooper earned Daniel Woodard and Davie Birrell a 30-second penalty on their way to the runner-up spot.
With the same class-structure, the Sprint contenders were interspersed with the Endurance racers, and it was ff Corse’s Marc Brough and Andrew Bentley that triumphed, ahead of stablemates Laurent DeMeeus/Jamie Stanley – the two cars switching positions from the early-race status, where Stanley had at one point run third overall – and Mason/Lockie. Rick Nevison and Matt Cherrington bagged the Class 3 Sprint win in the Track Focused Porsche Cayman, though they were beaten on the road by lone driver Ed Moore, who piloted the Tockwith Ginetta to the Class 4 victory, 13th overall.