Britsports R1, Silverstone Club Circuit, 20 / 3 / 04
Apologies for the delay posting this report: it was mislaid in the post Sebring chaos here. Ed.

After two outings at the end of last year, expectations for a big Britsports grid were high. Unfortunately, several last-minute amendments to the programme meant that the field returned to the same size as it had been at the inaugural event at Brands Hatch in November. However, the enthusiasm of the drivers of the eleven cars that did line up wasn’t dampened by this, or indeed the weather – “damp” being an accurate description, although with high-speed winds howling away, this was subject to change at any minute.

Fastest in qualifying was the Radical SR3 of Nigel Redwood and Damian Byrne, half a second clear of the LM3000 Prosport shared by Mike Millard and Ian Flux, which was only allowed to set one competitive lap time as the car was breaking noise regulations.

To counter this, a team member was sent searching for cheap loft insulation in nearby Towcester. Next up was the Richard Gomes / John Gaw Radical, then the Roberts / Sinclair Jade (photo).

The top five lined up:
1. Redwood / Byrne – Radical SR3 – 1:05.277
2. Millard / Flux – LM3000 Prosport – 1:05.755
3. Gomes / Gaw – Radical Prosport – 1:05.832
4. Roberts / Sinclair – Jade Sports Prototype – 1:06.239
5. Ross Kaiser – Radical SR3 – 1:07.183

After a frantic Britcar contest, the track had completely dried for the Britsports 100 minutes, although if anything the wind was stronger, causing problems for some of the drivers in open-topped cars. The only major casualty of the start was Mike Millard, who was slightly too leisurely in his departure, although this may have been something to do with polesitter Nigel Redwood’s raring getaway.

However, Mike Roberts’ start was even better, and he immediately began to pull away, with Redwood and Gaw in pursuit. Within five minutes Roberts had already made up a lap to the last placed Radical, and after 10 laps had extended his lead over Redwood to 11.5 seconds. Meanwhile, Doug Newman spun his Jade at Luffield, which allowed Mike Millard back into fourth – steadily regaining places after his slow start. All the while the imposing-looking Mosler of the Woodcock brothers was becoming embroiled in a battle for seventh with Jon Scott’s Radical, the mismatch in size between the cars mirrored by the straight-line pace of the Mosler, compared to the nimble Radical’s cornering speed.

Roberts’ blistering pace continued and by the 36th minute the entire field was a lap behind the Jade. The leaders started to pit soon afterward, with Ian Flux taking the helm of the LM3000 Prosport, at the same time as Roberts pitted to allow Tony Sinclair some track time in the lead car. After mishaps for both parties (with Flux attempting to jump into the Prosport before refuelling and both Jades pitting at the same time), they rejoined the track, with John Gaw promoted into first place.

With an hour to go the long distance began to take its toll. Michael Woodcock decided to retire the silver and blue Mosler after a suspicious puff of smoke on the start/finish straight...

...and the Redwood / Byrne Radical had started to overheat, the duo deciding to use the rest of the race as testing. They rejoined down in 10th, but decided to call it a day on lap 68.

Soon it was only the now-leading Radical of Ross Kaiser that had not stopped, and when he did, on lap 51, the first of a wave of black flags started. Tony Sinclair was the first to be punished for breaking the pit lane speed limit. However, he failed to see the flag and continued. Ross Kaiser also fell foul of the rule, although was unsure what he’d done and repeated his offence on the way in for his penalty. Frustratingly for Kaiser this happened again a few laps later! To add to the chaos both Richard Gomes and Nigel Woolcott were also caught out, and at one stage Michael Woodcock was also being black-flagged, despite being sat in the pitlane! Finally, some 15 laps after having first been shown the flag, Tony Sinclair came in for his stop, and Mike Roberts jumped back into the Union Jack liveried Jade, although he crawled back into the pits on the same lap, losing more of the time built up during his first stint.

This confusion had allowed Ian Flux to quietly take the lead, but he wasn’t complacent, and with twenty minutes remaining had made a lap on the whole field. The Roberts / Sinclair Jade pitted yet again, this time to top up with fuel. Roberts stayed with the car, impressively gaining 12 seconds in five laps to retake fourth from the Leighton / Taylor Radical. Despite the pace the pair showed, Roberts was disappointed with the result: “We were a bit naive going into the race with worn tyres and a small fuel tank, but it’ll be sorted by the next race.”

Despite a last-minute drama – Flux ran out of fuel on the final lap and crossed the line running on fumes - the LM3000 allowed Fluxie to complete a successful day for the British Touring Car old guard (with earlier great results for Andy Rouse and David Leslie in Britcar), and both he and Mike Millard were delighted with the result, revealing that for the majority of the race they’d had no second gear. However, Millard reckoned: “We probably saved time by not changing down anyway”.

EERC boss James Tucker wasn’t downcast by the small grid: “We’ve been unlucky today with a few withdrawals, but today we’ve shown that even with just eleven cars we can still put on a good show. Remember Britcar started with these kind of grids and we hope Britsports will go the same way”. With drivers of the calibre of Paul Warren, Marcus Pye and Chris and Alex Buncombe planning a return to the series in 2004, the future looks good for Britsports. The next meeting is at Brands Hatch on April 2/3.
Mark Dishman

1. Millard / Flux – LM3000 – 99 laps
2. Gaw / Gomes – Radical Prosport – 98 laps
3. Ross Kaiser – Radical SR3 – 96 laps
4. Roberts / Sinclair – Jade Sports Prototype – 95 laps
5. Leighton / Taylor – Radical Prosport – 95 laps
6. Woolcott / Rogers – Radical Prosport – 94 laps
7. Scott / Marshall – Radical SR3 – 92 laps
8. Laslett / Wilshire – Radical SR3 – 87 laps
9. Newman / Setters – Jade Sports Prototype – 79 laps

FASTEST LAP: Mike Roberts – 55.661 – Jade Sports Prototype.


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