Club Challenge class at Knockhill was always going to be tight, using our past few years knowledge and understanding it’s clear to see that the shortest track on the calendar would produce the closest results because of a few simple factors, the bigger power cars haven’t got as many places to use it, the cars that corner like they are on rails haven’t got as many corners to demonstrate it and let’s be honest, as we are talking about Time Attack, every driver has less chance of managing at least 1 lap without making a royal balls up!

One thing it does attract is a large entry list, which poses the extra problem of traffic out on the circuit, so picking your time and place to overtake and run a hotlap are all key decisions the driver has too be making from behind the wheel. We already know that Steve Peel, Gordon Wright & Gerry Atkinson have moved up, so who did that leave us with and without at the Scottish round? Well to start with we lost all the One Hit Wonders from Cadwell bar one; Tony Hume in his Evo, the 200SX of Alistair Bryne and Evo of Chris Hamer both missed the round and Marc Kemp has turned his championship battle into a few OHW rounds after committing to some other events with his Evo including the Superlap Battle in Zandvoort.

Wallace Performance

Oddly enough we spotted James Morgan’s 300ZX arrive, then within an hour leave again on the back of the trailer it arrived on without going near the circuit, not entirely sure what happened, we can only assume the car just didn’t want to play ball! We did welcome some new and retuning faces to Time Attack, again in the OHW form, Matty Lawson ran some rounds last year in his Wallace Performance Evo, hardcore fans will recall his engine blowing up in spectacular style at Brands Hatch last year! Brian Rennie brought his Evo 6 along and was also part of the ever-growing Wallace Performace crew and not to be out done by the Evos, the RA Motorsport Developments’ Scoobies of Gareth Houston & Jason Ogg would be tackling their local track. Barry Kay’s Evo 8 was another of the entrants and it’s nice to see something that you would probably consider ‘underpowered’ when speaking about Time Attack, a Renault Clio 172, driven by Liam Robertson.

As with the Pro guys, the warm up session provided no real insight into the day, Pro-R Subaru driver; Ben Shimmin made the best of the conditions although Jason Ogg, Matty Lawson & Tony Hume were all within a second. Mike Cantello set the early RWD class pace, with the RX7 of Umar Masood showing some epic wet drifting skills as he tried to hang on to the back end! The FWD boys had the same grip problems, putting big power through the front wheels has never been easy but Simon Smail did the best job in the Focus RS, although it was a very short stint for Sheffield driver; Jonny Fletcher whose windscreen steamed up leaving zero visibility after just one or two laps. Simon Deaton & Ronnie Amis were both out on track, but failing transponders gave us no clue to their initial pace in the wet.

Pro R

Practice came around and with a working transponder fitted to the Airtec sponsored Sierra Cosworth, Ronnie showed us what we had missed earlier on, breaking the minute barrier to put his car not only top of his class, but top of the entire Club Challenge field! Ronnie seems to really be getting to grips with the Sierra this year, both performances so far this season have impressed us and to top the Club time sheet in a RWD car is seldom seen! Hume was the other man to break a minute in this session, it’s a real shame that Tony isn’t a full season entrant, again, both performances have impressed and his car, minus the stickers, would look like your average Evo, there is no monster aero or clever cooling on the car leaving us to surmise that Tony really knows how to pedal it!

Richard Marshall, who missed the warm up session, managed to put his GTR 4th overall, and for those not in the know, it’s worth noting that Richard blew his gearbox up competing at the Hockenheimring a few weekends ago and for the Knockhill round was using the gearbox from Robin Duxbury’s road GTR that they swapped over a week ago! Ogg, Rennie & Lawson showed their local talent was a valuable tool, placing all of them inside the top 10, baring in mind there were 22 cars out over the 1.2 mile circuit, finding that space for a real fast lap on a damp track really was hard work!

Kay

After a decent lunch break, the cars would return to qualify and score the first points of the day, with tyre choice now trackday slicks it would be our first opportunity to see who has got what! Initially it was an Impreza & Evo battle, Jason Ogg, Dave Coe and Matty Lawson all swapping the lead within 2 or 3 laps. The extra speed caught more than a few out on their breaking points coming into the final hairpin with huge lock-ups from Lawson, Coe, Masood, and Cantello. The exit wasn’t much friendlier to the drivers either with Cantello, Amis, Masood, Deaton and the M3 of Steve Fitzpatrick all sliding the back of their cars whilst trying to point it in the general direction of the start/finish straight. Bo Nielsen managed to turn the Astra into the top FWD car and being the only one to dip under the minute mark, Smail got within half a second and there was literally nothing to split between Mini driver; David Ward and the Astra of Jonny Fletcher who both posted a 1.02.106 lap.

The 4 N/A class cars also appeared to have an epic battle on their hands, although Fitzpatrick had a nice buffer at the top of the class, Neil Holden and James Proctor in their varying styles of Honda Civic had the small but mighty Clio right behind! There were also 4 drivers fighting out the RWD class, Simon Deaton held off Masood by just under 4 tenths whereas the gap between Amis and Cantello was a mere 2 tenths, with Ronnie taking the advantage and first points of the day. Richard Marshall threw his GTR well over a second faster than anyone else, proving the drying track was helping the GTR put its mighty power down and just 6 hundredths of a second split Shimmin and Lawson. Ben Shimmin has taken to Time Attack like a duck to water, it seems he really knows where to put the Impreza and watching him closely exiting the hairpin with a precision slide, he is the type of driver that I can only compare to Olly Clark and certainly ain’t afraid to keep it loose and of course that means fast!

Final time, perfect track conditions, almost a full house (only Brian Rennie missing), this was set up to be a cracking final! A great performance from the OHW drivers, Hume placed his Evo what would have been 6th in class, 8th overall and Ogg and the flame-spitting Lawson 5th & 6th overall. The outstanding drive of the day had to be Amis, finally giving himself the biggest gap from Cantello and a day’s maximum points, not only that but the Sierra finished the session 4th overall! Simon Deaton’s Porsche is certainly an unusual Time Attack car, but it’s lovely to watch and listen to, just seems so smooth but fast enough to earn the final podium spot. Bo Nielsen had another spot of bad luck with his car failing to boost correctly, costing him any chance of winning, instead that opportunity was grabbed by early FWD pace setter; Simon Smail and the Sitech Ford Focus. Ward’s Mini was the runner-up, whilst Jonny Fletcher held off Antonio Giovinazzo despite finding himself with only 2nd and 4th gears!

Marshall

The N/A order stayed the same as qualifying, Fitzpatrick going unchallenged really, with Holden and Procter filling the remaining podium spots. With Kemp out, Hamer missing and Gary Searl’s car still not complete, the challenge for the 4WD class was left to 3 men, and those 3 put on a fantastic display of what Time Attack is all about! Occupying the top 3 overall spaces and split by just 1.5 seconds, Dave Coe took his first podium of the year with the refreshed Impreza, Shimmin continued his podium streak, this time going one better and gaining the second spot and more silverware for series sponsors; Pro-R but Richard Marshall was the man to take the win but in extremely difficult conditions. On the 2 straights (start/finish and the approach to the final chicane) Richard’s speed trap figures were 14mph & 10mph up over Shimmin, meaning he must have had a real struggle with the big GTR round the tight bends at the top of the fabulous Knockhill track!

What a cracking weekend to have spent at Time Attack, the weather held nice for us all, hundreds enjoyed the round and for many preparation has already begun ahead of the trip to Brands Hatch. Can Ronnie Amis stay at the top? Will the FWD boys get a dry session and show us what they can do? And with 2 strikes next to their name, will we see Shimmin & Marshall leave the Club Class? Join us in 4 weeks time to find out. It’s not racing, it’s Time Attack.

Words – Ollie // Pictures – Ollie/Rich

It seems like an eternity since we packed up our ‘slightly damp’ selves and left the Cadwell park whilst casually reflecting on what we saw, speculating on early title condenders and discussing the changes to cars and new line up of drivers in the 2012 Time Attack season. in reality, 4 weeks have passed and we find ourselves at the next venue on the calendar ready for the next installment of cracking action from the Time Attack Circus!

Now, for many Knockhill seems like a million miles away, and speaking to some of the fans who were lining the circuit even though this was their local track, it was still a mission for them to get to! with a near 700 mile round trip for us, its always an interesting adventure and with Scotlands glorious scenery and changable weather conditions it makes for one of the most exciting dates on the calendar and when you think most of the organising team, main Time Attack Photographer and at least 2 or 3 of the teams are 150 miles south of us in Kent and made the journey, we can hardly feel too hard by!

NR Autosport

The Scottish round also allows to welcome a few new and few not so new faces to the event, as the locals returned to do battle and a few names pop up on the entry list as One Hit Wonders that you might recognise, it was set to be all action right from the word go! Scotlands ‘first lady of motorsport’; Fiona Kindness was back in action, her car has undergone a few changes to set it up for circuit racing but is still a instantly recognisable car and one that isnt shy of some pace! Michael Mahoneys Evo is still one of the best looking machines to compete in Time Attack in our opinion, now with a even moodier front end and what seems like a good dose of extra power, it was exciting to see the Wallace Perormance man back in action.

We can also add a few names who missed out at Cadwell, Duncan Graham returns in the BC Racing Impreza, Warren Kelly’s Escort Cosworth is a fan favorite and returned after suffering a mechanical faliure at Rd 1, Marcus Webster rejoins team mate; Walter Morris into the competition and Gordon Wright who was at Cadwell but failed to run due to problems with his Skyline. Missing from this round was Alan Freeland, although mysteriously his car was on display at one of the trade stands, Rob Cowling who is still working hard to make the winter developments on the Ameon Evo come together, olly Clark whos well documented and anticipated ‘Gobstopper II’ is still not quite ready and with the legendary ‘Gobstopper I’ suffering at Cadwell he would sit this one out and finally still no sign of Dave Jackson’s new Focus Cosworth build, were hoping to see this car at some point this year, hopefully Brands Hatch!

Fire

Action began as always with the Warm up, and in the case of a cold and damp Scottish morning thats exactly what was needed. Nothing major to report, Mark Pollards 6R4 pulled up midway through the session but got going under its own steam but for many it was a case of sighting the track, deciding what tyres would be the sensible option and a shakedown of the cars. Gareth Lloyd was really the only driver to post a quick lap towards the end of the session, running the Bob Moore racing Evo over 6 seconds clear of anyone else. in addition to the Pro & Club Pro drivers that we are used to seeing, after a cracking start to the season, Steve Peel has opted to bump up from Club class into the Club Pro catagory and he ran a couple of laps before retuning to the paddock.

Practice was helped by both the civic cup race and the slightly warmer temparatures allowing the cars to run slightly quicker on the dryer line created, although still not up to full attack pace it was an early indication as to who was suited to the conditions and who had manged to get the set ups right. Lloyd was quickest again overall, athough his 6 second gap had been cut to under 2 tenths by Gavin Renshaw. Marcus Webster was making use of the fairly quiet session putting in the most laps, towards the last few of which he had the entire track to himself! Scott Robson lead the club Pro drivers and was placed third overall and is showing the pace we last saw of him back in 2010 and the team at RA Motorsport Developments have helped breathe new life into the Impreza even after a few setbacks at Cadwell. Hot on his heels however was Neil Robertson who really does seem to have found the pace we have been hoping for out of the SVA imports Evo which when you look round it, really is a mad car! The 2WD cars still struggled with grip in the damp, Romain Levesque managed to improve right up to his last lap, but both Gerry Atkinson and Gordon Wright were fighting for grip, with Gordon often looking like his skyline would have been quite happy in the EDC but hanging on to the squirming rear end like a pro!

3 wheel

The Qualifying session is where it counts, points are available and its the first time of the day where the drivers really aim for their quickest lap, early pace setter Lloyd managed only 3 laps at a lesurely pace before retuning to the pits and retiring the car with what we believe was a clutch faliure. Duncan Graham had struggled in the earlier sessions but managed to finally put some hot laps in abd get some miles under the Impreza’s belt on the drying circuit, David Leigh in the DAR Seat Leon joined the FWD madness although his appearance was shortlived and lasted the same distance as Lloyd. Gavin Renshaw was left to be the man to beat, and took his place at the top of the pile and earnt maximum qualifying points. Steve Peel, who remeber has just come up from club challenge after only 1 time attack round was the second quickest overall, and top of the Club pro list narrowly beating the Exige of Jamie Wilson. The drivers were pushing hard, from my position on the hairpin i saw Romain, Duncan, Gerry, Warren and Russ Paton all locking up after stamping hard on the stop pedal on the approach with Romain avoiding the gravel bed by millimeters on a couple of occasions and Paton sliding all 4 locked up wheels of his Evo for a good 150yds! Pollard also had a few car issues, what sounded like a misfire turned into a stall and some big epic flames shot out of the Metro before ha managed to get it back to the pits.

The final approaches, the track had now dried out perfectly, the slicks were on the drivers were fired up and the sun even made an appearance and then came 20 dramatic minuites of Time Attack! Gavin was the first man out as usual and blasted out the first hotlap to set the pace, only to be beaten a few seconds later by Mahoney; whos speed trap figures were unmatched by any of the cars in the session, we have seen some figures that suggest Michaels car can run a very quick standing 1/4 mile too which would explain the cars explosive power and torque especially going up the hill over the start finish straight! it didnt take long for the first incident and first red flag of the day, Walter Morris who hadnt had the greatest day stopped on the run up to carlube and needed recovery so proceedings were halted. amazingly after the restart it took just another couple of laps for the second Midlands Performance Skyline drivern by Marcus Webster to pull up in almost an identical place leaving waved yellows in place. whilst the marshalls decided if this would be another red whilst the car was recovered, flying frenchman; Romain Levesque made their decsision alot easier by parking his CRX in the tyre wall at the hairpin after a brake lock up and faliure sent him onto the inside kerb, flying through the air (and i mean flying, look for it on youtube!), clearing the track and into the barrier. fourtunately Romain was ok, and although thats the most important thing but the Eurospec boys will be needing to repair that front end (again) ready for brands Hatch!

Slide

after that the session was close to time up, Renshaw had regained the lead and extended it with the closest Pro class rivals; Pollard & Mahoney split by one hundreth of a second at the flag placing them 4 & 5th overall. that meant that 2nd & 3rd would contain two club pro drivers and 2 of the most impressive drives ive seen so far! Steve Peel had better be careful or he will be needing some slicks for the move up to pro class, finishing thrid overall and just over a tenth behind the Club Pro Class winner and fellow NR Autosport driver; Andy Barbour. Andy had a fairly steady run up to the final, he was always on the pace but not setting it, but clearly the garage share with Gavin is rubbing off and the pair come away from Knockhill with major bragging rights and a armful of tropies and taking the final step was early pace-setter; Scott Robson in the RA Developments Impreza. Gerry Atkinson was on the winning step again, although last time around he was taking the FWD clubb class win, his slick tyres and step up to Pro 2WD has paid off and pipped Wright & Leigh to the podium spots, could we see Romain goin this battle at Brands…now there is a thought!

Knockhill, despite the travelling is quickly becoming our favorite round, at one point i forgot my duties and just enjoied watching the cars charge round, its so addictive and the competition is really hotting up! so to wrap up the Pro & Club pro Classes, Gavin stands at the top of the pile once again, Andy joins him for the club pro class and Gerry maintains a 100% record for 2012 who is going to be up for the challenge at brands? will we see the missing cars return and Gobstopper II? make your self available on the 8th July and join us at Brands Hatch to find out!

Words – Ollie // Pictures – Ollie & Rich

Whilst the Pro classes really draw the crowds to see the very best of the best of the tuning world do battle, there is always that feeling of it being ‘out of reach’, don’t get me wrong, these tuners and teams put hours of work & development, skill & knowledge into all of their cars and are at the peak of awesome, but for your average trackday hero or modified enthusiast it’s just a little out of most people’s budget to begin to compete with these guys, heck these guys can lap a circuit faster than the BTCC drivers!

Fortunately for all of us, we have the Club Challenge class which provides us with a real spectacle of varying cars, varying budgets and to a certain degree, varying driving talents. There is no other motorsport in the world where you can pit your trackday prepared hot hatch against a fire breathing 4WD monster, against a classic rear wheel drive Ford against… well, you get the idea!

VX220

Club Challenge class really allows anyone to experience what it’s like, in fact if all goes to plan at the end of the year, we will be able to tell you exactly what it’s like as I’m hoping to give the Snetterton 200 round a go myself so I can offer you first hand experience of what it’s like to line up in the pitlane at a Time Attack event! This year sees many familiar faces from years gone by and many changes to their cars but it also adds an element of the unknown as a selection of new drivers, cars and One Hit Wonder entries take to the track and cut their teeth in this amazing series for the first time, so “how did it all pan out?” I hear you cry.

Positioning myself perched over the pit wall in the center of the track for the first session was a brilliant place to be, not only did I get to watch the field of 28 cars come down the hill and take their place ahead of the green flag dropping for the first time in 2012, but I could also see Coop positioned at the top for the action as the cars exited the slippery hairpin & Barn sections of the track therefore knowing we had the action covered, but I also had the company of Gerry Atkinson’s crew who were truly amazed by the TSL mobile timing screen I had open on my generic fruit-based mobile telephone device, and allowed them to put away the old school stopwatch they had to time Gerry’s eventful laps!

This is what I love about Time Attack, sure BTCC is epic and you get to meet the drivers in a crowded pitlane, but for modified enthusiasts, Time Attack is the holy grail and it’s so easy to feel part of it, to be talking to the drivers and teams to find out about their cars that they all are more than willing to talk about or drinking in the bar the night before with Ronnie Amis & Jonny Fletcher (*cough, for example..). Back to the action and the green flag dropped on warmup with 28 cars streaming out all ready to test their Winter’s hard work, Time Attack 2012 was go.

Club Challenge class has a few classes within the club bracket, this year we have Club Rear Wheel Drive, Club Front Wheel Drive, Club 4 Wheel Drive and a Club Naturally Aspirated class. The first man to appear back into view on the first lap was Ben Shimmin in the Pro R Impreza who eventually went on to be the quickest man in the session in a car that’s undergone some changes but is still recognisable as ‘Shirley’; the car that Jon Mathers took to victory in the championship last year, Jon coincidentally was driving the Course car inbetween sessions. Rich O’Dwyer had some of the big guns really worried as he managed to get what we believe to be the quickest 1/4 mile mini in the country round the track just under a second behind Shimmin and topping his FWD class although being a OHW entry he would be unable to earn championship points even if his form continued.

Evo

We went to see Richard Marshall test at a Trackday a few weeks ago, again at Cadwell, which resulted in a small off, but the car was repaired and was brutally fast on the straights, but the GTR is a big car to be throwing around a narrow, damp Cadwell. Defense of Bo Nielsen’s title was off to a good start, 4th overall on the time sheet in the Astra and topping his FWD class for championship points was just what he needed after the car has had more work breathed into it at his main sponser; Forge Motorsport. Tony Hume was another OHW who instantly impressed, his Evo looked fairly tame in bodywork but was flying over the mountain and put in some impressive laps, hope we see more of him this year! Neil Holden was another driver who tested at Cadwell a few weeks before and his TDI North FN2 Civic Type R lead the N/A class from Steve Fitzpatrick’s BMW E46 M3 and Robert Burkinshaw’s Honda Integra DC5.

Robert Dixon, who we spotted mastering the art of sticker placement in the wind and rain earlier, took an early lead in the rear wheel drive class, but with him being a OHW also, it was the constantly on fire RX7 of Umar Masood that ranked the highest. The rest of the field were just gauging the tricky conditions, although others found other problems would hamper their efforts with James Procter in a stunning and rare Civic FD2 Type R returning to the pitlane early on, but minus his front bumper, Marc Kemp’s Evo looks almost unrecognisable from last year’s car despite it being the same one but a broken pin on his gearbox linkage saw him having to sit it out, and Jonny Fletcher managed to put some laps in in the Astra, but transponder problems left him with no idea of his initial pace.

Switching my vantage point to the Hall bends for the practice session, which was declared wet, meaning that all drivers would be out on their chosen list 1A tyre, meaning the times wouldn’t be comparable to the earlier session, but would show who had the grip in the pouring rain! The heavy rain brought patches of standing water and it was no surprise that the 4 fastest times were all set by the 4WD entrants, with Shimmin making it 2 out of 2 at his first ever event and really impressing us with the way he handled the Impreza. Dave Coe returns for another year and hands down wins the Garage Awesome award for the largest rear spoiler, the extra downforce pushed him to second followed by another great drive from Hume and a stunning performance for a driver who you usually find in the Dutch series; Evert Thomas and his amazing Audi S2.

Kemp

Despite the wet, Mike Cantelo took charge of the RWD class, with a few VX220s rumoured to be involved this year, he showed the pace that took Jimmy White, who has to sit this year out due to the much more difficult task of first time parenthood, to the 2011 title. Holden again not only topped the N/A class but stayed within the top 7 cars overall, much helped by his comparable lack of power and extra grip I’m sure, interestingly enough he was quicker than the leading turbo FWD cars which in this session wasn’t Bo, but Simon Smail, who put his Sitech Focus RS, which unless we’re mistaken, is sporting the front end of a 2010 Team AoN Focus BTCC car, on the top of the list. The rest of the rear wheel drive cars struggled for grip with Ronnie Amis & Umar Massod coming past me with the back end hanging out on a few occasions. Simon Deaton was very tip-toey in his lovely Porsche 964, Simon, who last time we saw him involved in Time Attack was driving a bright pink Evo, which is now a bright purple Evo driven by Alan Freeland in the Club Pro class! Gordon Wright seemed to be having a few issues in his Skyline and Alistair Bryne was demonstrating just why the 200SX S14 chassis is such a popular drift car, but also demonstrated superb car control, often gathering it all up after getting back on the power a tad early in the wet put him into a slide.

It wasn’t just the rear drive boys struggling, 4WD front runner managed to get his 800bhp Evo totally sideways coming through the Hall bends after his N/S/R tyre just brushed the slippery kerb, but managed to get away before anyone came round the bend to find him stranded in the middle of the track! The same fate befell Gerry Atkinson, his FWD Seat Leon Supacopa managed to do almost the exact same thing and after a short grass detour, he was back on his way to the 10th quickest time of the session. Marc Kemp had yet another nightmare with coilpack issues meaning he didn’t manage a hot lap at all!

Then the real nitty-gritty started, as both Coop and I stood towards the top of the mountain knowing that the drying track would really make these cars fly, it was the best place to be! Lee Bullen in his Impreza is a solid OHW driver, he has had decent results in the past, would be great to see him involved in a full championship battle and was quick out the blocks, his car leaping over the mountain and the first to put in a hot lap, but would leave the session after completing that one. Steve Peel hasn’t been mentioned yet but spent the first 2 sessions there or there abouts, his Evo three seems to set up really stiff, another one not only leaping up the mountain but often on three wheels on the corners leading up to it, and with huge smoke clouds as he would catch the limiter, the power he needed was obviously there and put him second overall and gained the first set of championship points. Chris Hamer proved he lost no confidence in the Team Eurospec Evo from his earlier spin getting within 0.2secs of Peel and making it 2 new-to-the-championship drivers, in the top 3. The first time Ben Shimmin was off the top spot, but only just he was less than a second behind the leader and lined up 4th.

Pro R

Bullen slipped down to 6th with Marshall still struggling to tackle the twisties in the GTR, but was way quicker than anyone through the 2 speed traps making his way to 5th with Coe 7th and Hume 8th overall. 9th saw the fastest FWD car, with Gerry Atkinson putting in a quick lap before totally missing the first corner braking point and for the second time of the day found his Leon skidding across the grass right up to the top of the hill between Coppice & Mansfield. With O’Dwyer a good 4 secs off Gerry’s pace it left a good battle between him, the second Mini of David Ward, Jonny Fletcher and Smail’s Focus, regular competitor; Antonio Giovinazzo remained running in his Alfa, but still is lacking the initial pace to keep up with the class leaders. Less than a second separated the top three rear drive cars, Cantelo holding on in the Vauxhall from Deaton and Amis with Masood and Bryne starting to make use of the drying track and moving up the board. Both Fitzpatrick and Burkinshaw managed to topple Holden’s grip on the N/A class, with the latter coming out on top before managing to put his Integra backwards into the barriers causing some minor damage and a series of yellow flags.

But topping the entire qualifying session was Marc Kemp, who had no idea until he spotted me as he was returning to the paddock and take a peek at my TSL timing screen only to then immediately point out that he was still on wets, so had managed to run fastest, on the wrong tyres! What a fantastic drive from Marc!

The final loomed, the field down to 23 cars, meaning more space available out on track to set that oh-so-special winning time, and the man to take full advantage was Steve Peel, who quite simply outclassed the field in his Evo putting in a time not only 1.5 secs faster than anyone else, but a time that would have seen him 4th in all the pro categories, Kemp managed to recover what could have been an awful day but when it mattered and on the right tyres made second place whilst it was only right that Ben Shimmin would taste the podium champagne on his first outing after such an impressive performance. Marshall, Bullen, Coe, Thomas and Hume made up the top 8 with just over 4.5 seconds separating all of them and with Coe only managing 1 final lap, 6th was a fantastic result. One man who didn’t have a great final was Hamer, after the Eurospec team were busy repairing Romain’s car, Chris’ head gasket chose a bad time to give up, costing him a real chance to be fighting for the lead finishing a lowly 16th, but there is plenty more to come from both car and driver and with giant killing Romain as a teammate, you can’t discount a genuine championship chance. Gerry Atkinson continued his impeccable record of managing to visit the grass at least once a session, this time at the mountain, but his time was fast enough to gain full FWD championship points ahead of Ward and a first-ever Time Attack podium for Jonny Fletcher in the Astra GSI.

RA

The closest of the classes was without doubt the RWD, half a second was all that separated the top 4 drivers wit Deaton narrowly missing out on the podium. Umar Masood took the third step behind a triumphant Cantelo and class winner Ronnie Amis in the Sierra Cosworth in a lap record breaking time too, must be the JD & Coke Ronnie! Despite a poorly looking Integra, Rob Burkinshaw hung on for the win in the N/A class but as far as the championship goes, Burkinshaw’s OHW status meant it was ‘Fitz’ in the Beemer that claimed the top spot with Holden’s Civic second.

So, there we have it, some amazing action at the wet Lincolnshire venue, our next stop in just under 5 weeks is the gorgeous Knockhill, where we are expecting all the action and then some as we are likely to see some extra cars in the form of both OHWs and full season entrants whose cars just couldn’t make it to Cadwell. So it’s a fond farewell to round 1 as we look ahead to round 2 and all the shenanigans that goes with this incredible motorsport, which of course we will be covering every inch of.

Words – Ollie // Pictures – Ollie/Rich

Finally, it has begun! It seems like an eternity since we packed up our things and left Snetterton back in September last year as the Champions of 2011 were crowned, and pretty much every day since then we have been gearing ourselves up and getting way too over-excited in anticipation of the opening of the 2012 UK Time Attack series and as ever, we will bring you season long coverage of the entire championship!

Now, it’s fair to say our excitement levels have increased 10 fold since the new tyre regulations were announced, this appears to have spurred on some drivers to get heavily involved and even come back to the championship in cars that have been developed away from Time Attack. We have been (pretty much) stalking the drivers and teams on social network sites, we have been at trackdays and testdays and even been down to visit some cars being prepared, all in anticipation for this very day!

Fly

Cadwell Park was the Round 1 host, a familiar track for some, a stranger to others and for all, mixed in with the rather changeable weather conditions a real challenge to find out just how well they have improved their cars and in some cases, if they worked at all! As always we shall start with the Pro classes round up followed by all the action from the Club classes shortly after.

With warm up being held on a damp but drying track, it immediately threw the teams into a tyre-based quandary, with some opting for the slicks & road-legal track tyres, whilst others fearing the grip levels and lack of run-off at the Cadwell Park circuit, opted for wets. Our focus on the Pro class actually covers 4 separate classes, with the Club Pro & Pro classes being allowed on the road legal MSA List 1b tyre and the Pro 2WD & Pro Extreme this year being allowed full slick tyres!

Club Pro saw many of last year’s crowd returning, with Russ Paton, Walter Morris, Dave Jackson, Warren Kelly, Neil Robertson & Rob Cowling all fighting out the 2012 Championship, but would this year be joined by Romain Levesque, who will compete the entire 2012 season as a Club Pro car. Jamie Wilson, who we last saw in 2010 in the Exige & Scott Robson, who again was oh so close to claiming the title in 2010, was out in his RA Motorsport Developments Impreza. Andrew Barbour also joins the list after making the step up from a successful season in Club class last year, his NR Autosports prepared Evo has undergone some surgery too since we last saw it.

SVA

David Leigh was the only competitor to run in the Pro 2WD class at Cadwell, so his Leon just had to survive the day for the win, and Duncan Graham’s last minute push to get the car ready wasn’t enough, leaving last year’s champions Gavin Renshaw and the Metro 6R4 of Mark Pollard to scrap it out in the Pro class. Finally, Pro Extreme would see the highly anticipated return of Gobstopper, and Driver; Olly Clark along with previous champion; Gareth Lloyd & the Midland Performance run Skyline of Marcus Webster, which sadly would also not make it in time for Cadwell.

Lloyd dominated warm up, with his time over 5 seconds quicker than anyone else, showing just how quick these cars are on slick tyres, and the reason he has been chosen to drive the Redbrick Racing Evo in the World Time Attack series! Gavin Renshaw was the closest man and topped the Pro class charts whilst the SVA Imports Evo, which in previous years has never seemed to deliver its potential, climbed to the lead of the Club Pro class, 3 seconds ahead of Jamie Wilson’s Lotus. Olly Clark, Scott Robson, Romain Levesque & Rob Cowling were all out, but failing or faulty transponders meant that they had no recorded times to compare.

Practice was a whole different ball game, with a ‘Wet Race’ declared, the entire field would need to be using their wet option tyres and would see the lap times grow by 4/5 seconds a lap. Although many of these cars are 4WD, getting 500, 600, 800+ bhp onto wet tarmac is no easy task, and the job in hand was amplified for the FWD CRX of Romain Levesque, whilst Pro 2WD competitor; David Leigh sat this one out along with Olly Clark and the Gobstopper Impreza. Gavin Renshaw finished the session at the top of the time sheets, with Lloyd & Pollard behind. Andy Barbour took his first session win as a Club Pro competitor, his Evo really is looking quick and looks like loads of work has gone into the car over the off season. Scott Robson was quick but seemed to be having teething issues, Neil Robertson & Alan Freeland were hot on their heels too, with Freeland showing off his new striking Purple and Yellow livery. Morris was another struggling with issues, Russ Paton blew a silicone hose after only 3 laps and Rob Cowling, who hasn’t managed to run his freshly built Evo in yet, failed to put a quick lap in and of course you can ready the Ameon Racing story, later in the week!

pits

After a dinner break, the track had managed to dry out and the first points of the year would be contested over the 20min qualifying session. Jamie Wilson lead early on before the see-saw of the lead went between Lloyd & Renshaw who, despite actually running in different classes, were locked in a gripping battle for the overall fastest time. Lloyd came out the eventual victor with a stonking 1.28.701 sec lap, beating Renshaw by a fraction over 1 second, although it wasn’t until his 9th and final lap when he could pull the magic time out of the bag. Jamie Wilson grabbed the first Club Pro points putting the Exige at the top, but both Alan Freeland and Andy Barbour were within touching distance of his time. Levesque’s day worsened with an off causing damage to the front & rear of his giant-killing CRX. Scott Robson also struggled, the car had lost its earlier pace and had developed some kind of misfire at the top end of his rev range, a problem shared by Rob Cowling. Olly Clark’s day ended early but not after he had put on an epic display, flying over the Mountain on almost every lap.

The way the day had panned out meant the final was always going to lead to some drama, with Walter Morris, who if memory serves us correct is using teammate Marcus Webst & Olly Clark out it left 12 cars to contest the session, however only 11 appeared into the pitlane from the holding area with the missing car being NR Autosports’ Evo and driver; Renshaw. despite frantic efforts from the team, they were unable to start the car in the holding area and consequently missed out on the session, and the chance of first round points. The remaining 11 gave a great show, there was always going to be one man to post the fastest time and with both Renshaw & Clark out, Gareth Lloyd ran an almost exhibition style display posting the fastest time of the day, some 7 seconds ahead of anyone else on the track and with it took the Pro Extreme win in the Bob Moore racing Evo.

The Club Pro was a fierce battle, in the end the first 3 were separated by under 1 second, but it was Jamie Wilson who marked his Time Attack return with a fantastic victory, Andy Barbour flew the flag for NR Autosports with a great second place and Alan Freeland, who despite leading early on, took the final podium spot in his flying Evo. Romain Levesque and his CRX must give the 4WD boys sleepless nights, he managed to not only get his FWD car into 5th in the Club Pro, just 2 seconds off Wilson’s best time, but he did it with most of his aero kit and downforce in the pitlane after his previous off rendered them useless! What a car!

Exige

Bit of a frustrating day for Rob Cowling who, despite getting quicker, was struggling with a lack of testing in the Ameon Evo. Robson’s misfire had not gone away, costing him top-end speed and Russ Paton had to pull in just past the pits after his Evo ran into problems. David Leigh managed to steer his Leon round to win the Pro 2WD class by default, just hoping that we get to see some of the cars that were sidelined today in 4 week’s time at Knockhill. I’m sure Duncan Graham, Marcus Webster & Warren Kelly are already at work on their vehicles in preparation!

Time Attack is back, and back with a bang. OK, so the weather was pants in places but the action was hot! Having Gobstopper out was a great treat for the crowds, Lloyd showed just how fast a Time Attack car can be, but for us, just the sights and sounds of what we saw today will replay over in my head right up until they’re refreshed when we hit Knockhill for Round 2. We love Time Attack, and are so pleased that it’s back for the year and that we are involved in the whole operation! Huge well done to all the drivers and if you have missed it… you only have 6 chances left to see these guys in action this year! Log on to www.timeattack.co.uk for more info and results.

Words – Ollie // Pictures – Ollie & Rich

With the apparent rush to get our own projects completed, and visiting various sites, businesses and race tracks around the UK to get the lowdown on all the 2012 information, it’s left us with a fairly hectic start to the season, and that has meant that a couple of reports have been festering on my desk that we really need to get out there for you to see & enjoy!

Now, as I’m sure you’re aware, we are no strangers to the Britcar Endurance Championship, we covered a good handful of the rounds last year and if you asked any of the team what their favourite event to enjoy and work at, it’s safe to say the end of year 24hr race would; in Family Fortunes style, be the top answer!

Whilst some of us were sunning it up at Santa Pod, Coop was trackside at Silverstone and inhabiting the pitlane to give us fantastic coverage of the first rounds of both the main championship races and the Production classes, and with there being no official media day for the 2012 season and only an entry list to go off, there is plenty of new and improved cars that we managed to uncover!

Britcar

For the first time and no doubt due to the popularity of the championship, we saw the field run 2 separate races. Last year would see the production classes called in after they had completed their race distance and the remainder of the field in the hunt for the overall British Endurance Championship title would continue running until their longer race had run its course. So with the production class out first, that’s where we will begin our coverage starting with a qualifying run-down.

The teams with the fantastic Seat Leon Supercopas dominated the qualifying pace with an astonishing 3 of the top 4 places being upheld by the Leons with only Michael Symons managing to put his BMW M3 amongst them. The Sub-Zero Wolf Team took pole with ex-BTCC driver Adam Jones putting in a lap over half a second faster than his nearest rivals and the entire field of 28 Production cars spanned a 26 second time bracket around the Silverstone GP Circuit.

Abra

The 90min Production race was a great spectacle, with a huge variety of cars to enjoy and follow through the race. The Leons were joined by a handful of superb BMW M3s, Civic & Integra Type Rs, some Mini Coopers, a couple of MX5s, Clio Cup cars, the lightweight Ginetta G40 and even a Seat Toledo! Of course, not all of these cars were in the same class, within the Production bracket there were 5 classes to be won.

The race was dramatic, the same as you would expect from a short, single-make, circuit race and the endurance fans were treated to an epic battle! Mark Cunningham quickly moved his Leon up to the front of the grid where it remained for his stint, accruing a huge gap over his closest rivals. Peter Cunningham took over and although they remained in the lead, gearbox issues meant that the Symons BMW was taking time out of their lead each lap, unfortunately the time was being made up by the over-zealous driving style and despite warnings for exceeding the track limits on numerous occasions, the team were issued a drive through penalty.

The trouble didn’t stop there, as upon entering the pits, the rather frustrated team came in a little too hot which really annoyed the man upstairs, which in this case was the clerk of the course and on lap 34, 9 minutes from the end of the race, the team were disqualified from proceedings. The battle up front continued and the drama went right to the wire as the struggling Cunningham team were caught and passed by Richard Abra’s BMW with only 3 minutes to go, leaving the MP Motorsport team victorious. Symons had set the fastest lap in the class. Class 2 saw another ex BTCC star; Mike Jordan bring his Eurotech Integra home 7 seconds ahead of the Topcats Leon.

leon

Over in the main race, which was contested over a traditional 3 hour event, the action remained fierce with some truly amazing sounding and looking machines out on the track, we don’t say this unless we really mean it, but an endurance race is not a bore and we urge you to give it a go and go witness these cars for yourselves!

Mike Millard lead for most of the qualifying session in his stunning Rapier SR2 only to be pipped at the post by the Michelotto Ferrari F430 driven by Andy Schulz & Paul Bailey. They were also pipped at the end of the session leaving pole position to be occupied by a Mosler driven by Javier Morcillo.

The first of the Topcats Marcos Mantis found itself 4th overall and topping the Class2 list with its sister car 6th overall separated by yet another Marcos driven by Chris Beighton. In the remainder of the classes we saw a hugely mixed grid, just like we witnessed in the Production class, with more Ginettas, BMWs, Lotus Elises & Evoras, Ferraris and a pair of Chevrons.

The race saw the 21-car field spread out fairly quickly and Richard Abra, fresh from his Production victory finding it much harder going, retiring his car after just 5 racing laps. Steve Gugliami is a name we have come across before, the ex Time Attack driver, partnered up with Jeff Mileham in their Elise, managed a 1st in class and 9th overall result, always nice to see drivers we have followed in other series make a sideways step and try something totally different.

Mosler

Martin Byford may have struggled to get to grips with the AmD Milltek BTCC Golf, but behind the wheel of his Lotus Evora, he topped his class and managed to cause a real stir, running 6th overall and only 4 laps down on the lead drivers at the chequered flag! The Jones/Tiley Topcats Marcos managed just over half way before they had to retire, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom as the O’Neill/Huggins car had a clean race and not only managed the Class 2 win, but also stood second overall.

From the start it was a 3 way battle for the lead, Morcillo in the Mosler, Schultz in the 430 and Millard in the Rapier, right away the top 3 pulled a gap over the rest of the chasing pack. Schulz took the early lead with Morcillo right behind. Soon after, the Mosler got past and the Rapier was after the F430 aswell, Morcillo started pulling a gap and after roughly 45mins in, the Rapier managed to put a move on the Ferrari as it was hurting its tyres in the battle to hold its position. The Motionsport Lotus Elise was in after a couple of laps with a misfire, they sent it back out but not long after was back in again, didn’t take them too long to sort before it was back out at full pace. Motionsport’s new Ferrari 458 Challenge car had a decent race but has some oversteer and they are looking forward to getting the Aero on but despite this managed 7th overall.

An hour in, and the Mosler was way in front but after they pitted after 75mins to hand over to Cintrano, they came back out in the lead but not by much, Heward was in the Rapier and taking chunks of time out of them every lap. The Bullrun Evora made it to half race before needing to come in for its pitstop, and at the end of hour 2 this had got them up to 4th overall. Bailey/Schulz had problems, caused when pitting, and lost 20 laps fixing them.

wing

The Mosler had a lucky break after a pitlane speed infringement saw them gain a penalty, although their luck resumed as the closing Rapier was in trouble with suspected electrical problems, and despite its speedy recovery to the pits, they were too many laps down to put in a challenge, allowing Morcillo to take his place behind the wheel for the last stint and cruise to the chequered flag to take first blood in the Championship Season.

2 Fantastic endurance races at Silverstone, the diverse nature of the cars, the enthralling racing and welcoming staff & teams are the main reasons that here at Garage Awesome we add these dates into our calendar as one of the first and ‘must get to’ championships of the year, and as we have previously stated, it’s certainly worth trying to get there yourselves! Next races are happening this weekend as the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship takes on its next 3 hour race at Donington Park and of course another 90mins of action from the Britcar Production Cup. We will be there, and of course full coverage right here once the action is over! For all your Britcar needs, head over to www.britcar24hr.co.uk to find dates, news and all the classified results.

Words – Ollie // Pictures – Rich