#50 Warren GILBERT / Rob WILSON - Marcos Mantis#50 Warren GILBERT / Rob WILSON - Marcos Mantis - competing at Donington Park near Derby England. Sunday 2nd August 2015. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports
Warren Gilbert and Rob Wilson, driving the Topcats Racing Marcos Mantis , took a convincing win, with a five-lap margin, in the 360 Allcomers three-hour race at Donington, though this was a race of what might have been.
What if early frontrunner Doug Newman, taking the first leg for the Gold Arts Caterham relay team, hadn’t come to a halt on the grass at Schwantz Curve in the first half-hour, and over 15 minutes were lost before handing the metaphorical baton to John Schneider, who then retired his Caterham as the race entered the second hour?
What if the newly-acquired BMW M3 CSL of Paul Black and Clive Bailye (the “Cagney and Lacey” of yore) hadn’t endured overheating, a power steering failure, a later diff problem and a final broken wishbone?
Indeed , once the Caterham threat was over, Topcats had it all their way, only losing the lead at the mid-race pitstop, when “rock star builder” Rob Wilson (no, not the Rob Wilson who instructed Jensen Button and played on a 1970s number one hit) handed over team boss Warren Gilbert At that point, the Black/Bailye BMW assumed the lead for a while; they had kept Wilson honest, eating in to his considerable lead, despite wrestling with the lack of power steering, and keeping an eye on the temperature gauge, but the pair were done for before the second hour was up. Great potential though, from both car and drivers, there’s surely better to come.
Sadly, the MG ZS of David and Alex Smith posted the first retirement after just 12 laps, and the Mitsubishi Starion of Ed Simpson and Chris and Charles Williams enjoyed an in-out relationship with the pits with a litany of issues, but still managed to finish eighth and bag the ExE Class win.
#5 Clive BAILYE / Paul BLACK - BMW M3 CSL#5 Clive BAILYE / Paul BLACK - BMW M3 CSL - competing at Donington Park near Derby England. Sunday 2nd August 2015. Photo: Dave Ayres - Picturesports
With the demise of the Black/Bailye BMW, it was the E36s of Climax Motorsport that provided the interest behind the leading Marcos. The Cem Osman/Jody Halse #41 car, and lone-driver Marcus Burnett’s #128 machine had been regularly trading places with the CB Motorsport Ferrari 360, which ebbed and flowed as it cycled through half-hourly pit stops to accommodate the three drivers and give them an equal chance before any potential issues with the car developed. The Climax cars came alive towards the end, though, with Halse, then Burnett sniffing an overall podium as the Ferrari toured interminably, stuck in a low gear, and they did in fact come home second and third overall, a true reflection of the art of endurance racing, holding steady, capitalising on situations, and putting on a spurt when it mattered. The Ferrari limped home fourth overall, claiming the NaN Class win, somewhat a result really for Neil Garnham, Rob Young and Alexander MacGregor, for their first time in a car that hadn’t been raced for a while.
Also exemplifying endurance racing were Team Wirral’s Honda Civic, driven by David Hill and Neil Phillpotts, and the Fun Cup machine of Paul Abraham and Alan and Rory Brown; both ran solid races and came home fifth and sixth, while despite some smoky moments in right-hand bends, Luther Blissett’s Alfa Romeo 156, shared with Simon Woods and James Ford, held it altogether in seventh, bagging Claire Smith’s Spirit of the Race award. Despite commentary box speculation about the Alfa’a technical condition, and Luther’s James Bond associations with the smoke trail, it was diagnosed as a leaky power steering pump.
So, Warren Gilbert stroked the Marcos home to win, but it wasn’t without a little drama; a puncture, due to a tyre being ragged down the steel reinforcements, caused a quick pit stop, and despite running to the flag in fuel conservation mode, he still showboated a fastest lap, punching in an atypical 1:16.237 just five laps from the end.
Report by (the ever excellent) Steve Wood