Daytonas Dominate Donington ERS Event

August 03, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

#19 Nigel MUSTILL / Craig DOLBY / Jay SHEPHERD - Daytona Prototy#19 Nigel MUSTILL / Craig DOLBY / Jay SHEPHERD - Daytona Prototy#19 Nigel MUSTILL / Craig DOLBY / Jay SHEPHERD - Daytona Prototype - competing at Donington Park near Derby England. Sunday 2nd August 2015. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports There was a strong Daytona influence in the result of the foreshortened two hour Endurance Racing Series Round 3 event at Donington on Sunday, the win being taken by the Daytona Prototype-derived Wessex Racing Riley of Craig Dolby and Jay Shepherd, whilst the Intersport Porsche 997 Daytona, a machine built specially for the 2012 edition of the Florida circuit’s 24 hour race, was pedalled to second place by wily old hands Ian Donaldson and Kevin Clarke.
 

But this could have been a very different race, had we not lost three significant runners in a first-lap incident, and had the full three hours duration been realised.

The RAW Motorsport Radical RXC Coupe had bagged pole at 1:05.757, nearly a second ahead of the erratically misfiring Riley, leaving the Radical SR3 of Knibb/Rath/Sharich a further five seconds down the road, all indicating that the race lead looked like being a fight between the two “prototypes”, and it was Craig Dolby’s Riley that won the drag race into Redgate from the immaculate two-by-two rolling start formation, with Tim Gray, taking the first stint in the Radical Coupe, getting out of shape at the exit of the corner, spinning onto the inside verge and coming back onto the track in a fog of tyre smoke. In the ensuing melee, Guillaume Gruchet’s Porsche was tagged and went hard into the barriers, and Ed Platt, starting Mike Moss’s BMW, had nowhere to go but into a cloud of smoke that was masking the red Radical. Thankfully all three drivers were OK, but the best part of an hour was lost as the race was firstly put under caution, the red-flagged, as the cars were recovered, the track cleared, and the barriers attended to. #96 Tim GRAY / Tom ASHTON - Radical RXC#96 Tim GRAY / Tom ASHTON - Radical RXC#96 Tim GRAY / Tom ASHTON - Radical RXC - competing at Donington Park near Derby England. Sunday 2nd August 2015. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports
 

Gruchet would have been a significant contender for Class 2 honours in the race, and Mike Moss’s BMW M3 was seemingly punching above its weight in qualifying, with Moss indicating the car had more to give, reckoning there was another second per lap to be pulled. There was a car issue at the other end of the field too – failing to make the start, and probably a little glad of the extras time to fix their car were the Circlesigns team, the Hyundai Coupe suffering wheel stud issues in qualifying and now refusing to fire up. “We’ve filled it brim-full with fuel, and we think it’s caused a vacuum in the system” explained Sarah Niblett, who shared the driving with Stephen Ayres.

So, a re-start under the Safety Car, with four laps before the field was let go. Dolby streaked into the lead – nine seconds at the end of the first flying lap – and by the 13th tour had lapped Kevin Clarke’s second-placed Daytona Porsche, and that was pretty much it for the two hours, Dolby and Jay Shepherd seemingly walking it to a victory of four laps advantage, but in reality Shepherd was learning the car whilst driving around a mystery issue which Dolby was using all of his skills and nous to identify. Kevin Clarke pitted the Intersport Daytona Porsche cock-on the halfway mark, and Ian Donaldson took it to the flag in text-book endurance fashion, though the rear tyres were ragged rendering the handling difficult in the final laps, allowing the “trackday experts” Radical SR3 of Phil Knibb, on his usual charge, to claim one lap of his five-lap deficit back in the closing minutes. This had been another sensational effort by the three well matched pilots, comprising the novice (Andrew Rath), the occasional racer (Ben Sharich) and the champion-out-of-retirement (Knibb).

#350 Ian DONALDSON / Kevin CLARKE - Porsche 997 GT Daytona#350 Ian DONALDSON / Kevin CLARKE - Porsche 997 GT Daytona#350 Ian DONALDSON / Kevin CLARKE - Porsche 997 GT Daytona - competing at Donington Park near Derby England. Sunday 2nd August 2015. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports If the front end was predictable, the mid-field provided the excitement. The Audatex Ferrari 430 Challenge was a bit of an unknown quantity in an endurance format, both to the series and the  team, and George Christopher (sharing the drive with brother Andy) was swamped by the front-running Atoms of Mark Johnston and Paul Donkin in the early stages of the race, the nimble machines annoying the bigger Ferrari for several laps, before pulling ahead, then suffering the frequent and laborious pit stops for fuel. Donkin, though, was enduring a problem in his stint; “I’ve been caught in the slipstream of the other Atom – the car is overheating, and keeps cutting out” he explained after his first stint, though the trio of Donkin, David Drinkwater and Mike Newman did go on to win the Atom Cup class, and finish a creditable fourth overall, two laps ahead of class rivals Johnston/Jorge Calado and Stuart Abbott, who were in turn a lap in front of final class podium sitters Stuart Lyddal/Gus Desbarats/Russell Munns. The Ferrari though, would sadly retire with a cracked coil pack as the race entered the second hour.
 

Also going for their own class victory were the hot-hatches of Team BRIT (VW Golf) and Tracktoys (Mini Cooper), with Mark Allen in the Golf swapping places lap-by-lap with Duncan Rogers’ Mini in the first hour, this fine display of racecraft (in Allen’s case, hand-controlled) earning the respect of all present and Rogers the Driver-of-the-Day trophy. They eventually finished a lap #19 Nigel MUSTILL / Craig DOLBY / Jay SHEPHERD - Daytona Prototy#19 Nigel MUSTILL / Craig DOLBY / Jay SHEPHERD - Daytona Prototy#19 Nigel MUSTILL / Craig DOLBY / Jay SHEPHERD - Daytona Prototype - competing at Donington Park near Derby England. Sunday 2nd August 2015. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports apart, Danny Holland steering the BRIT Golf to Class 4 victory ahead of Danny Russell in the Mini. The Circlesigns Hyundai did eventually join the race 12 laps in, but later languished in the pits with an ignition issue, before coming out to take the flag at the end.
 

Delighted winner Craig Dolby highlighted the vagaries of multi-class endurance racing after the race: “There were times when I had to compromise fast laps – several times I came up behind that Atom battle – I didn’t risk taking them through the corners, that could have ruined their race, and mine, so I waited until I could power past them on the straight.

There are a full set of images available on the Picturesports web site – Click Here

The Endurance Racing Series re-convenes on Silverstone’s GP circuit on September 12th.

Report by Steve Wood


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