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September 21, 2019

Greensall Great, BAMD Brilliant, Nelson’s Victory in Dramatic Donington Round 4

Greensall Great, BAMD Brilliant, Nelson’s Victory in Dramatic Donington Round 4

The changeable conditions and doubting over tyre choice always indicated that Class 2 car could win R4 of the Britcar Endurance Championship – and so it was. This one was all down to the drama caused by a sudden shower 10 minutes from the end of the 90-minute race, but influenced by a number of issues early on too.

First, there was tyre choice; most started on wets – but the first of two pace car laps identified to a gaggle that slicks might be the rubber of choice, and Millard’s Rapier, Pelle’s Audi, Nick Barrow’s BMW and Jensen Lunn’s diminutive Chevron all dived into the pits for an early tyre-change. No such immediate issue for Morcillo, who’s Mosler was shod with the only set of Dunlop intermediates in existence, but even he realised the limitations five laps in, and came in to change, leaving Calum Lockie, in the FF Corse Ferrari 458, to take over at the front. Staying out on treaded tyres, though, was Darren Nelson, the BAMD team electing to manage their Ferrari’s opening stint through the expert guidance and instruction over the radio by co-driver Nigel Greensall.

Millard pitted again early on – to rectify a safety-wear issue, but was a bit too rapid out of the box, and suffered a 90-second stop-go, as did Franck Pelle, for a similar infringement in the Audi. With the order upset, the battle between Mark Radcliffe’s Intersport BMW and Guillaume Gruchet’s Porsche 996 was actually for third overall, behind Nelson’s Ferrari.

Morcillo had found his way to the front-end of the race again, but still trailed Lockie by a lap, and Gruchet was making progress, deposing Nelson for third, but Pelle was recovering too, carving through the order to demote Gruchet.

Nelson was the first to take the mandatory pit stop, with 49 minutes of the race left – fuel, slicks, and Greensall installed. Then came the rest, with Morcillo, then Lockie, leaving it late.

David Mason took over the FF Corse Ferrari from Lockie, performing solidly, with Manuel Cintrano, who had relieved Morcillo in the Mosler, chipping away at his lead, which was still over a lap to the good, but it was Greensall, and Peter Cook (now in the Audi) that were making most progress; they needed to unlap themselves from the leaders a couple of times, and so they did. Lone driver Gruchet, with no restrictions on his pit stop window, made his stop as the final quarter of an hour ticked-in, then came that sudden shower – with all the runners on slicks, and the chequered flag imminent.

Mason, with no experience of such conditions, was un-nerved by a spin at Redgate, and Cintrano had an off-track excursion down through the Craners, this complex continuing to be his foul-weather nemesis, and necessitating recovery. Greensall had by now taken Cook, and hauled in Mason at an alarming rate, the two red Ferraris crossing the line side-by-side as lap 47 was completed, with just over five minutes of the race left.

So, it was three Class 2 entries that claimed the overall podium – the Cook/Pelle Audi splitting the two Ferraris. Millard recovered from his four pit stops in the Rapier to finish fourth, the first Class 1 car home, ahead of Gruchet, who had performed solidly once again. The Mosler came home sixth, ahead of the Saxon BMW 1-series of Nick Barrow and Robert Hall, which had wrested the Class 3 lead off of the Adam Hayes/Mark Radcliffe E46 towards the end of the race. Final podium spot in Class 3 went to the Bullrun SEAT Supercopa, with young Max Adams collecting two trophies over his first weekend in a race car, assisting dad Richard and David Green, whilst Jensen Lunn and Alistair Lindsay were the final classified finishers in the little Chevron.

All 12 entries were still running at the end, but two were unclassified; Jonny MacGregor started his Ultima a few laps into the race, and despite several stops, showed what the car is really capable of – a heroic solo effort that went unrewarded, and there was a troubled race for the Intersport BMW E92, with a trip into the Melbourne gravel for Anna Walewska being followed by a penalty for Kevin Clarke for track limit infringements.

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