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29.03.2016

Britcar Silverstone Round 1

MX8A6364

NGMSport returned to action at the weekend with a two car assault on the Dunlop Endurance Championship. Spanish pairing Javier Morcillo and Manuel Cintrano returned to the series with their Mosler after a 12 month hiatus whilst Nick Holden replaced last year's Ariel Atom with a Renault RS01 and a driver partner in the shape of professional driver and instructor Andrew McKenna.

With limited testing for both cars and the Renault only completing a shakedown two days before the race, problems were inevitable for the French racer and at one point on the run up to race day it looked like the car might not make it to the grid. Fortunately the problems were either dealt with or negotiated around and both cars rolled out of the garage for qualifying on Saturday morning. A successful qualifying session saw the Renault secure a creditable P7 whilst Morcillo had to settle for P4 after hitting traffic on his best lap.

As the weather closed in full wet tyres were the only option and the difficult conditions would play a part in the opening laps of the race. Defending champion Calum Lockie, starting from pole, was the first victim as his Ferrari 458 locked a wheel at the first corner and spun off into the concrete wall surrounding Copse corner. Holding the inside line through Copse Morcillo was able to get a better drive out of the corner and easily swept past Johnny Mowlem in the second FF Corse Ferrari 458 to grab P2 behind the JMH Audi R8 of Adam Wilcox.

Further down the grid Andrew McKenna was determined to get the Renault up the field and the Ice Driver showed his ability on slippy surfaces as well as the raw pace of the Renault by fighting his way up to P4 in just over half a lap. His charge was halted at the far end of the Wing when he surprised Mowlem who turned in not expecting McKenna to be challenging for position. Both cars span off the circuit but McKenna was able to get the car back to the garage for the team to carry out some hasty repairs and get the Renault back out on track albeit several laps down.

At the front Morcillo had dropped to P3 after Glyn Geddie had also shown his wet weather abilities and driven from P8 to P1 by the end of the first lap. However at the start of lap 3 the McLaren MP4-12C developed a fault and slowed on the exit of Copse. With yellow flags at Copse to recover the FF Corse Ferrari, Wilcox slowed behind the McLaren which continued to struggle up to the green flag. Morcillo saw his chance and powered between the two cars to grab the lead which he held for the next hour and 15 minutes extending it to nearly 8 seconds.

A late pit stop gave Cintrano a shorter period in the car but the maximum opportunity to grab a podium place as the weather conditions deteriorated. But with 30 minutes still on the clock the red flag brought the race to a close as the circuit became almost un-driveable following a torrential downpour of rain. This secured P3 for Cintrano who dropped to P2 during the pit stop and then was soon caught by pro-driver Nigel Greensall in the Lamborghini Hurracan GT3.

After the race a clearly delighted Morcillo said; "Manuel was looking good for third because the guy in fourth was lapping slower than him so I was on the radio just telling him to take it easy and keep it on the road. It was one of the most difficult drives ever in the Mosler so I'm really happy about third place".

The Renault RS01 with Nick Holden behind the wheel successfully finished the race despite its earlier drama's although a long way down the field in P20.

The next race in the championship will be at Snetterton on Sunday the 8th of May.

Jurek Biegus

Andrew McKenna in the Renault RS01.

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