It may have been a 24 hour race but the Beacon Downe quartet of Kris Tovey, Peter Rundle, Louis Tyson and Richard Gardiner were never far away from the head of the field, having joined the initial break in the first hour.
While the guesting Euro spec cars and Mini’s sped off to do their own thing, an early five car break for the UK 2CV’s was led by Baycon Racing’s Sandro Proietti, from Team Lion 1’s Pete Sparrow, Gadget’s Simon Clarke, Tete Rouge Crisis’ Brian Heerey and Jon Harmer in the Pork Pie Racing car.
The places swapped and changed within the group as Heerey and Harmer had a share of the lead, which allowed Beacon Downe’s Kris Tovey and Rosie’s Julie Walford to latch on too.
But Heerey was an early pit visitor to repair damage after contact, from where Clarke, Proietti and Sparrow made a brief escape.
The first safety car then appeared to recover a stranded Mini, but from the green flag Sparrow took the upperhand, as he led Proietti, Clarke and Tovey in a four-car break.
With the first hour completed there were still 16 cars on the lead lap, but the lead quartet had managed to stay away.
Julie Walford was one of the first frontrunners to make a planned stop, handing the Rosie car to Katy Storey from fifth. “Although we got detached from the top four, we still had a hard battle,” she said.
Drama soon followed however when the overall leader hit Sparrow during lappery, sending him across the track, where he was hit by Jelly Snake’s Neil Huggins. Out came the safety car again and a flurry of pitstops followed.
“None of us really wanted to lead in that front group, so we were almost waiting for each other to take it up. But then Pete was clipped by the lapping car and it sent him across the track. I had to take to the grass to avoid him, but then he was hit,” said Gadget’s Simon Clarke.
Clarke had handed to Tom Perry having led at two hours, but it was the same four car break, with Harmer in fifth and Twin Snails James Northfield completing the top six.
As darkness started to fall Proietti had a slightly longer stop when a rear wheel bearing problem was located as father Sandro came in to hand to son Luca.
By three hours there were just the three on the lead lap, Perry had Team Gadget to the fore, with a seven second gap to Beacon Downe’s Tyson, while Katy Storey was a lap up on Twin Snails’ Paul Rowland, but had the Dan Willan Coaches ECAS car and the recovering Baycon car of Proietti Junior closing in.
Paul Crosby had been in the ECAS car and continued to bring them closer to the lead battle, with ex Clubmans racer Philip Martin-Dye due in next, after his son Freddie had started.
Beacon Downe were out in front though for the first time as the fourth hour was completed, with ECAS second, from Team Gadget, Twin Snails, Baycon and Rosie.
Over the next few hours the Beacon Downe and Team Gadget cars alternated for the lead, dependant on their stops, but as the half way mark was reached, Beacon Downe had managed to pull out a five lap cushion.
Team Gadget had lost ground and slipped to sixth, but after Martin Riman and Aubrey Brocklebank had done their stints for Twin Snails, they had edged into second ahead of ECAS. “There was an engine problem and fuel pressure, so we had to change it,” said Gadget’s Lien Davies.
Heerey, Glen Oswin, Nick Roads and Martin Arrowsmith-Brown had brought Tete Rouge Crisis back to fourth while Blueberry Muffins ran strongly during the night to move up to sixth with Nick Moore and Scott Lawson sharing Chris Yates’ car. “It was good steady run but we had intermittent carb problems,” said Yates.
While Baycon Racing’s initial pace kept them in contention, further maladies had slipped them down to 19th but after their contact damage had been repaired, Team Lion 1 were back up to 10th after some sterling work by Sparrow, Alec Graham and David O’Keeffe.
The lead trio remained unchanged until the 15th hour, when ECAS moved into second and Tin Snails started to lose out, as Tete Rouge Crisis progressed again.
But at the front the Beacon Downe continued to cruise through the remaining hours, clinching victory by five laps from Dan Willan Coaches Team ECAS. “We have never been so dominant as a team. We lost the starter motor so had to push start for the last 10 hours and a hybrid spun in front of us early morning and broke one of our lights, otherwise faultless,” said Beacon Downe’s Louis Tyson.
Team Gadget worked hard to climb back into contention, ousting Tete Rouge Crisis and Tin Snails at the 20th hour to complete the podium. “We had a front wheel shear from the hub,” said Tin Snails Riman. “Our alternator went but we got back to the pits OK and didn’t lose too much,” added Davies after he brought Team Gadget to the flag for team mates Clarke, Perry and Ainslie Bousfield, despite having picked up a couple of drive through penalties, much to the amusement of the rest of the pitlane.
Tete Rouge held onto fourth, with Team Lion 1 reclaiming fifth in the final hours, as Blueberry Muffins lost out, falling behind Team Lion and Savage Motorsport over the last four hours, after Lawson had contact which broke the fan, cooked the engine and brought it in for an engine change.
Despite their early damage Jelly Snake were eighth with MIN Racing and Tin Snails rounding off the top 10.
Early frontrunners Baycon and Rosie were finally classified 11th and 14th respectively, after Rosie had Katy Storey bounce off the Armco early morning and their final engine blow with a couple of hours to go when Darren Shepsman missed a gear.
“Three engine changes but we managed to finish the race with one rebuilt in the garage and it lasted for 13 hours, “said Sandro Proietti after Meyrick Cox brought it home.
Overall victory was comfortably in the hands of the visiting Bnll1/GT Racing Euro spec car, 24 laps clear of the sister car, while the guesting Mini’s saw Team Misfits taking the spoils.