750MC Club Enduro Championship Round 3 – Snetterton 300
As this somewhat crazy season goes past it’s half way point it was all to play for in all classes for the Area Motorsport Team. Coming into the Weekend Club Enduro had already seen over 50 Entrants and we had a Solid Lead in Class A with our TCR Seat Leon. Class B is currently a tightly contested afair with 4 cars including 3 Area Motorsport Cars and the ML motorsport BMW of Colin Gillespie all seperated by 6 Points. Class C see’s Area Motorsport’s Andy Baylie currently in top spot with a slender margin over the Sheard MX5 of the Kell Brothers.
Heading into Qualifying we got down to assembly early as we always do which barely ever makes any difference at all with the session being 35 minutes long. However on this occasion it did. With all our cars the first 6 out on track first, spots of rain quickly turned into a substantial downpour and with our drivers all getting lap 1 in on a semi dry track the team took all 3 top spots in Class A, B and C. The standout performance being Andy Baylie in his Class C Civic qualifying ahead of all the Class B field and in P5 Overall. Rob Baker would put there TCR Car on Pole position, Simon Wallis put their TCR in P3, Andy Baylie P5, Will Beech would line up Pole in Class B with Luke Handley’s Gold GTI in 2nd and Freeman/Munday Civic in P5 after a off at the final turn on their opening lap. A really positive start to the weekend and it was now a waiting game to see what the weather would bring for the Race.
The 2 hour Race would start under dry conditions after no more rain fell since the qualifying session earlier in the day. Quite a spectacle as always with a full 42 car Grid with a even spread between Class A, B and C. Traffic shouldn’t be as much of a issue as previous with lap times being over 2 miunutes long on the Snetterton 300 Circuit.
Rob Baker took the start in the Area Motorsport TCR whilst Matt Wallis took charge of the Wallis Brothers TCR. The lights went out and both cars got a good start, as always it takes some time to get heat in the rear of the TCR cars so it was a nervous first few laps for both cars with Rob Baker holding onto P1 whilst fending off the extremely fast Lotus of Alan Henderson and E46 M3 of Andy Schulz. Once temperature came into the rears both cars settled down and the Area TCR pulled a gap whilst setting fastest lap of the race in the early stages. Matt Wallis held a solid P4 Position and was keeping pace with the front cars all be it a little further back after a few moments on the opening laps. After 15 minutes the E46 M3 GTR of Joe Lock would lock up at turn 1 and head into the barriers causing a Safety Car. This was a real tricky one for us as we usually require 135 Litres of Fuel to be safe to the end of the race which means taking 35 in a stop. With only 15 minutes completed we would only have capacity to take on around 12 litres of fuel if we stopped at this time. Some number crunching and we decided to take the stop as it’s vital to stop under safety car when available due to less time lost in the mandatory 3:30 min stationary stop.
Rob Baker would bring the car into the pits whilst it was decided that the Wallis TCR would stay out on Track and under this Safety Car eventually took over the lead as other cars stopped to take advantage of the Safety Car. Carl Swift jumped into the Area TCR and headed to the end of the pitlane whilst the Safety car came around the last corner making it out just before pit exit closed. A brilliantly timed stop by the team ment the Area TCR had took it’s stop and managed to remain on the lead lap, although still critical on fuel level. With the safety car into the pits Carl would settle down and do some fuel saving for the next 20-25 minutes done by coasting into corners and short shifting saving nearly half a litre a lap and slower pace. Matt Wallis who currently had the race lead pulled away from the pack with some nice consistent laps although it was unknown where he would re-appear after his stop.
Heading into the final 3rd of the race the Wallis Brothers finally took their stop and promoted the Area TCR to P1, they took position back onto the track in P2, which would see them take their best ever result if they could hold it till the end. As the clock ticked down P1 and P2 were no longer under pressure in Class A after car failures for other front running cars and both drivers could ease off. As the Final Lap came round both cars headed to the line to take First and Second in Class A and Overall. A fantastic performance for both and a brilliant result for the Wallis brothers which would see them also move up to 2nd in the Class A Championship behind team mates Baker and Swift.
Class B has been hotly contested all year and one to watch for race battles throughout the season. We had 3 Team cars in the Top 4 heading into the round with Luke Handley currently leading the class B championship, ML Motorsport’s Colin Gillispie in P2, just 1 point ahead of Freeman/Munday in their K24 Civic and in P4 would be Will Beech and Mark Grice in their Golf GTi a further 5 points behind but looking to add to their win and fastest lap from the previous round. After the great Qualifying the Team had and the ML Motorsport Driver in a car lent to them due to problems with his BMW 135i it was all to play for both in terms of top step for this race and more importantly championship points. Off the line it would be it would be the Beech/Grice Golf that took the early lead on Lap 1 but quickly being closed down by another fast paced Lotus at the hands of Brian Chandler. The Lotus would pass the Golf on Lap 2 and start to pull a gap in the lead of Glass B ahead of Beech/Grice with Luke Handley in P3 and the Freeman/Munday K24 Civic in P4. Our strategy we took in Class A would also be used by Luke Handley in Class B due to his fuel capacity of 120 litres allowing him to only need minimal fuel at the stop. Unlike the Baker/Swift car Handley would lose a lap under the Safety Car stop but still a net result in terms of track position come the end of the race providing there are no further Safety cars. Beech/Grice would remain out on circuit due to them only having a 90 Litre Fuel Capacity and the Freeman/Munday Civic stayed out due to wanting to share the driver time equally in the car.
Going deeper into the race everyone held station however their were electrical problems for the Handley MK7 Golf which when occurred meant pulling over and doing a full reset of the car. This would lose him vital time of around 25 seconds each time it occurred eating into the margin he had originally built up from his Safety car stop. Problems for the lead Lotus of Chandler midway through the race would promote the Beech/Grice Golf to P1 with the K24 Civic driven by Chris Freeman in hot pursuit in P2, Both cars were yet to stop however. Fast forward to the last 3rd of the Race there was a hard fought Battle on track between the P1 Golf GTI of Mark Grice and the P2 K24 Civic of Chris Freeman, contact occurred on Lap 25 nearly a hour in between both at turn 2 which would cause damage to the K24 Civic’s suspension which although caused a drop in performance wasn’t threatening to their race finish at present. With all stops now complete it was looking to be another solid performance by Beech and Grice as they took the lead of the race which they would hold to the flag promoting them to P2 in the Championship. Luke Handley would make a fantastic last lap pass on another Class B Lotus to come home P2. The now John Munday Civic would have a suspension failure on the last lap from the damage earlier in the race and would limp over the line in P6.
Our Sole Class C driver of Andy Baylie in his Civic took to the grid not just on Class C Pole but P5 overall after his fantastic Wet Weather performance in qualifying. He knew he would be quickly swamped by Class A and Class B Cars at the start now the track was dry but his main goal was to try and beat championship rivals the Kell Brothers in their Mx5. Going into the race just two points seperated the Class C championship rivals with Andy Baylie currently leading. The race began and Andy got off to a good start minimizing the time loss on laps of being passed by Class A and B Cars and showing great skill to still bang in consistent lap times. With the Safety Car period underway at 15 minutes in there was quite the discussion on fuel for Andy to take this stop and get to the end of the race. The short Gearing and high RPM of the Civic doesn’t bode particularly well for fuel consumption but as championship rivals the Kell brothers taking their stop, we knew we had to give it a go with Andy and called him in for his mandatory stop.
With the stop completed and the grid bunched up Andy in his Class C Civic would enter into a race long battle with the Kell Brothers holding onto P1 by a Slender Margin throughout the race. The pair would be seperated by no more than a few seconds through the race until 5 minutes from the end disaster struck for Andy as he started to experience fuel surge. Hoping to limp it to the end was short lived as the surge got worse and Andy had to pit to take on fuel to get him to the end dropping him down 4 positions to P5 at the finish.
Top Positions and cars that can Win Club Enduro Class Championship’s going into the Final Round:
P1 – Swift Baker – TCR – 43
P2 – Wallis Wallis – TCR – 27
P3 – Cheetham – Cayman – 19
P1 – Handley – MK7 GTI – 34
p2 – Beech/Grice – MK6 GTI – 32
p3 – Freeman/Munday – K24 Civic – 28
P4 – Gillispie – BMW 135I – 25
P1 – Kell Kell – MX5 – 39
p2 – Baylie – Civic – 35
P3 – Mairs – MX5 – 22
Full Championship Points can be found here:
Championship Points Club Enduro 2020.xlsx (750mc.co.uk)
The final round of Club Enduro is at Donington Park on the 13th of December.