Team Trooper Take Last Gasp Victory At Season Opener
Anthony Reid was a late addition to the PW Racing Team Trooper line-up. Taking the final stint in the four hour season opener at Silverstone, he ousted Team Honeywell for the win within only minutes left on the clock.
There was a massive 32 car grid on the Silverstone International circuit and it was Team Lane Evolution that drew pole position with Chris Weatherill taking the opening stint.
Andy Bicknell led the opening lap for DespatchBay.com, with Racelogic’s Julian Thomas and Charlie Kennedy (Jason Kennedy Racing) duelling for second until contact at the Vale sent Kennedy spinning down the order.
Thomas took charge from lap two and soon started to build on his lead. But there were early pit visitors too with Paul Turner bringing the ECO Racing car in and Sean Cooper following with a misfire on the Track Focused car. “A car came across me, I went off and damaged the radiator,” Turner explained.
Although the lead continued to grow, a five car battle developed for second, with Graham Roberts charging from 31st on the grid to head the group by lap 14 in the JPR Uvio Championship winning car, running wheel to wheel with CCS Media’s Nigel Greensall, while Chris Hart lay in wait for Track Torque 2Rent Dominos.
30 minutes in and Thomas was still a solo leader, but Roberts and Greensall continued to alternate for second as they pulled away from Hart.
Apollo debutant Fabio Randaccio had also started to ease away from Bicknell for fifth, while MAK Racing’s Stuart Hall, Weatherill, Trooper Paul Wighton and Driver61.com’s Scott Mansell completed the top ten.
With the first pitstop before the hour was up, David Denyer was in for Racelogic and still had a huge 34 second lead at the hour point. “I got a lucky break early on. So while they fought behind, I got the hammer down,” said Thomas.
Henry Dawes (2Rent Dominos) and Marcus Clutton (DespatchBay.com) were on the lead lap too, while Nigel Griffiths’ was in for Weatherill and TLR, as Jake Rattenbury (PW) and Neil Plimmer (Honeywell) were the rest of the top six.
Track Focused had rejoined in last place, having managed an engine change in 27 minutes, but CCS were in trouble, as Ciro Carannante made a second stop. “Half way through my stint the exhaust started to come off and I could smell burning fibreglass and then engine characteristics changed too,” said Greensall.
JPR UVio were also struggling after Roberts’ early charge, “there were cars all over the grass early on, very busy. Then I had a clip with a backmarker, he spun and it knocked our tracking out,” he explained.
Clutton had continued to close on Racelogic’s lead, who decided to make their second stop early. Denyer had a strong stint and with Jon Tomlinson in they were still 17 seconds clear at the halfway two hour point.
DespatchBay.com remained in second from 2Rent Dominos, with PW Trooper, TLR Evolution and Honeywell all on the lead lap, followed by Driver61.com, MAK Racing, Team Viking Storage and DFDC.
Apollo had fallen down the order when Joe Tuckey had to pit from seventh “boiling over.”
Denyer was back in for Racelogic and continued to hold a good lead, while Clutton responded to the chase from Dawes to consolidate second again.
As the 100 lap mark came and went the lead suddenly reduced and Clutton began to take two seconds a lap out of Denyer. Two laps later the lead changed and Dawes began to make his move for second.
But with 1 ½ hours to go the first safety car period commenced as Team Viking Self Storage’s car had expired at Abbey. It gave Clutton almost a lap lead and came only two minutes before the pitstop window, prompting a mass charge for the pitlane.
Racelogic stayed out and it cost them dearly, as they had dropped to sixth as the third hour was completed. DespatchBay.com still had the lead from 2Rent Dominos and PW, but Team Honeywell were a strong fourth as both they and TLR Evolution had a lap on Racelogic, Driver61.com, MAK Racing and DFDC.
A wave by followed, which closed things up somewhat and put five cars on the lead lap, with Mansell (Driver61.com) and Michelle Hayward (MAK Racing) a lap down in sixth and seventh.
Bicknell pushed on strongly, but Hart, Wighton and Tim Wheeldon were all lapping three seconds a lap quicker and suddenly only three seconds covered the top four, as Fawcett began to lose ground for TLR Evolution.
On lap 126 Hart had the lead and both Wighton and Wheeldon tried to follow at Abbey, but Bicknell held them off on that lap, but soon succumbed.
Wighton then attacked Hart for the lead, but for Bicknell and DespatchBay.com it was all over. “We only had 75% on all four cylinders, it just wasn’t meant to be. I had managed to hold station and Marcus just flew, we were just going for it,” he said.
The duel allowed Wheeldon to close, while Tomlinson was doing his best to stay on the lead lap for Racelogic.
MAK racing were the first of the front runners to make the final stop, with Hall back in for Hayward. But only 0.383 secs covered the top three and Wheeldon was into second at Village, before grabbing the lead prior to pitting. “That made up for a rubbish season last year, but I didn’t know I was leading when I pitted, thought maybe third,” said Wheeldon.
Wighton handed to Reid and rejoined third, leaving Plimmer with a 6.553 secs lead for Honeywell over Dawes’ 2Rent Dominos.
It all closed up as the clock ran down and Reid was second into Abbey, with the lead margin still coming down. Reid made his move on the Hangar Straight to lead from the 160th lap, finally taking victory with Wighton/Rattenbury/Mailer by 2.5 secs, while Dawes had a late charge and almost snatched second from Plimmer.
“It was a real fight and I should have pitted for Anthony earlier,” said Wighton. “Amazing to win at last and be part of such a good team,” Mailer added. “It’s going to be hard to follow that debut, it just all came together,” Rattenbury concluded.
Although Plimmer was disappointed to lose out on the win, he was still delighted. “If it had been anyone else but Reidy we could have had that win,” he said.
“I was catching Neil too but made a mistake at Stowe and maybe an optimistic last lap lunge might have done it, but not worth the risk,” said Dawes after taking third. “The car was strong for us all day and it all held together,” added team mate Hart.
Team Lane Roofing were also delighted with fourth, “we had one bad fuel stop otherwise very strong all day,” commented Fawcett. MAK Racing also finished on the lead lap in fifth. “We exceeded our expectations,” said Hayward. “Just good fun racing and the team were faultless.” Hall added.
Drivers61.com were the top newcomers, although Mansell has plenty of Fun Cup experience, “I just looked after the car and let Scott do the charging,” said Richard Baxter.
The Amber team Academy cars were top 10 finishers too. The Bridle twins with Jay Shepherd seventh and Matt Jones/Anthony Dunn and Robert Henrey ninth, split by Farquini Deott/Graham Roberts recovering for JPR UVio.
DFDC completed the top ten, winning “Team of the Day” with Will Wright/Andrew Hinch/Marcus Batty after Trumans had an off on in the gravel on the outlap of the last change. “I just locked up and put it in the gravel,” Richard Webb admitted after they dropped to 11th.
1 PW Racing Team Trooper (Paul Wighton/Harry Mailer) Jake Rattenbury/Anthony Reid) 167 laps in 4h00m48.459s (77.01mph); 2 Team Honeywell (Tim Wheeldon/Neil Plimmer) +2.539s; 3 Track Torque 2Rent Dominos (Chris Hart/Henry Dawes); 4 Team Lane Roofing Evolution (Chris Weatherill/Nigel Griffiths /Geoff Fawcett); 5 MAK Racing Ltd (Stuart Hall/Michelle Hayward/Chris Webster); 6 Driver61.com (Scott Mansell/Richard Baxter). Fastest lap Nigel Greensall (CCS Media) 1m20.109s (83.17mph).