The fourth round of the 2011 Trackday Trophy saw the series visit Leicestershire’s Donington Park circuit for the first time and the debut for four teams of Ecurie Padmore, Maldini Racing, Steve Cutts Racing, and Granny Turismo.
Qualifying took place in dry conditions with a full grid of 36 cars heading out onto the track. Continuing from where he left off at Brands Hatch, James Britton set the early pace with a 1m21.055. Ten minutes into the session Britton headed the timesheets with John Hamilton in second and the Team Sam Honda Integra in third.
Five minutes later and Neil Newstead pulled off the track having suffered suspension failure at Goddards, bringing out the yellows and the safety car. The session was then red flagged with ten minutes of qualifying left, which allowed the marshals to clear Newstead’s BMW 328. The session restarted and Britton improved his time to a 1m20.743 seizing pole with Team Tactics showing their speed late in the session, going second with a qualifying time of 1m22.650.
The highest Class A qualifier was John Hamilton who qualified third and Simon Barnard took the honour of the top Class C qualifier with a time of 1m24.158. Class D ‘pole’ was taken by MAD Motorsport’s Adam McKeever and Matthew Weymouth.
The conditions remained dry as the competitors lined up on the grid for the 45 minute race. James Britton lead the drivers into the first corner and a great start was made by the Skellys Heroes team who were up to third from seventh. At the Craner Curves, John Hamilton retook third from the Skellys Heroes Elise. The top three, Britton, Team Tactics and Hamilton were close – Hamilton looking with intent, wanting to pass the Team Tactics Porsche for second place. Team Sam who got caught out at the start were now back up to fourth position.
On lap 2, James Britton ran a little wide at Redgate, as John Hamilton took second place away from Team Tactics. 2 B Monkey’s had a good couple of opening laps with the team up to 6th place by lap 4. A gap then started to appear between the top four and the rest of the pack. Skelly’s Heroes reclaimed fifth place from Team Cream Slice’s David Thomas who had past them a couple of laps before and RedMoon Racing had a moment in their Toyota MR2 at Redgate losing them five positions but they rejoined without damage.
At the front, Britton began to increase his lead, but a few places behind him, both David Thomas and Skelly’s Heroes lost time, which meant that Neil Newstead, Simon Barnard and the 2 B Monkey’s Clio were hot on their heels. The battle for second place was heating up as both Team Tactics and Team Sam got past John Hamilton for second and third respectively. On the next lap Team Sam overtook at Redgate to move up to second place, but would then drop down to fourth.
Another driver who had a moment at Redgate was Simon Barnard who skated across the gravel trap before rejoining the track. Again there was a change for third as Team Sam took the position away from John Hamilton. 2 B Monkey’s, Skelly’s Heroes and McQ Motorsport were locked in a close battle for 9th place, the action close and fair as they appeared joined at the hip from Redgate down to the Old Hairpin.
There was a great battle for third as John Hamilton attempted to get the place, by going round the outside of the Team Sam Integra at Redgate, but was unable to get past, instead slipping back in behind the Honda as they went down Craner curves to the Old Hairpin. It was on the exit of the Old Hairpin that Team Sam ran wide, allowing Hamilton to take third place in his Clio.
The pit window opened 15 minutes in and the early pitters went in on lap 11. Skelly’s Heroes, who had broken free from their earlier battle now were fighting for 7th and duly got it as they past Simon Barnard at Hollywood. For the next couple of laps the two were joined by McQ Motorsport and the spectators witnessed another nose to tail battle. McQ Motorsport then managed to get past Barnard for 8th place.
James Britton was the first of the leaders to pit, and as he took his mandatory 3 minute stop, Barnard battled past McHugh to regain 8th. Team Tactics and Team Sam also pulled in for their stops. John Hamilton stayed out for a little longer and took the lead.
Thirty minutes into the race and the safety car was deployed as Andrew Juric suffered a heavy accident at Goddards, his car rolling twice before coming to a stop. Fortunately Juric was uninjured.
John Hamilton came in for his pit stop with perfect timing. With the safety car being called, Hamilton became the big winner as he was able to get in his pit stop and leapfrog rivals – Britton and Team Tactics. Neil Newstead was the first driver behind the safety car but Hamilton was first in race position. Britton had also lost out in the pit window, moving down to third.
After a safety car period of five minutes the racing restarted. However it was soon announced that Team Tactics had had too quick a pitstop by just two seconds – the regulations determining that two driver teams must have a pit stop of 2 mins 45seconds. As a result, they were given a drive through penalty which enabled James Britton to take second place and try and catch John Hamilton who had a 20 second lead. With five minutes remaining the gap between the pair closed but the 45 minutes had been reached, with John Hamilton taking the win in yet another eventful Trackday Trophy.
Tom and Jamie McHugh gained another trophy to add to their collection, finishing top of the Class C entrants. Class D victors were H G Motorsport in their Ginetta, their drivers Ashley Bird and Edward Platt finishing four seconds ahead of second in class, and debutants, Granny Turismo.
Well done to all the competitors! The next round is at Anglesey on Saturday 10th September.
Full Results (link)