Birkett Six Hour Relay. Silverstone Arena Grand Prix Circuit. Saturday October 27th 2012.
After entering the Birkett for the first time last year, this year was a must.
We’d had a good keen response from our fellow Locosters so decided to enter two teams of four.
The first team would be Three Northern Monkeys and a Southern Softy and would consist of Sam Bradley, Steve Wells, Stuart Sellars and Mike Comber.
Owing to their success in this years championship we’d guessed the team may be given fewer credit laps than their competitors. This was to be the case.
The other team would be Three Virgins and a Big Berry Tart. Members would be Dave Berry, Shaun Brame, Tim Penstone Smith and Barry Stuart.
Only Dave had competed before so the remaining drivers would be the Birkett virgins.
The Isle of Wight posse travelled up Friday afternoon and included Steve and Hayley, Dan, Baz, Ryan, James, Fran, Thomas, Allan and myself. We arrived at the track around six o’clock and managed to get all the cars scrutineered apart from Mike and Sam. These two would be done in the morning. Garage 8A would be our home for the next day.
Saturday morning and a cold and windy race day. Qualifying started at 9am and no sooner had Sam come in from the first session I was called to race control to see Viv, the clerk of the Course! Sam had overtaken another car under yellows approaching maggots. Our first and fortunately only black mark of the day. The sun was in his eyes apparently and he didn’t see the flags.
Prior to qualifying we’d received the handicaps and grid positions calculated on previous race results and lap times. There were four Locost teams competing and the credit laps allowed were Team Monkey, 25 laps. Team Virgin, 31 laps. Four Corners, 27 laps and The Growlers, 30 laps. As suspected The Northern Monkeys had the least laps. After qualifying the handicaps were adjusted to suit the drivers pace and Team Monkey were knocked back another lap to 24! A trip to see the handicappers enquiring as to why the lap reduction was issued revealed that Mike and Stuart had gone faster than the times we had submitted prior to the event. The team certainly had their work cut out now so flat out would be the order of the day!
Grid positions were Monkeys 55th, Virgins 65th, Four Corners 60th and The Growlers 64th. Steve was up first for The Monkeys and Dave for The Virgins. The start was very clean with everybody making a steady getaway. Last year the race was stopped for over half an hour due to a start line pile up. No repeat this year thankfully.
Both teams worked their way through the driver orders with The Monkeys opting for two stints each of 45 minutes whilst The Virgins were doing three half hour sessions each. The safety car only made one 13 minute appearance during the race near the end of the first hour interrupting Steves, Stuarts and Barrys first sessions.
After three hours racing The Monkeys were up to 40th overall and 4th on handicap with The Virgins at 60th overall and 9th on handicap. Things were looking good. Our main rivals Four Corners were 46th and 3rd on handicap. The race was on! During the next couple of hours the handicap positions swapped about a bit but both teams stayed in and around the top ten. At five hours Team Virgin had reeled in the Monkeys and overtaken to take third spot whilst Team Monkey dropped to fifth. Four Corners had now jumped to 2nd.
We were now into the last hour and it was going down to the wire. A brief shower evened out the field a bit as the Locosts with their road tyres could keep a reasonable pace whereas others were struggling on proper race tyres. Mike and Sam were taking the final two stints for The Monkeys and were told to push hard. They were now safely ahead of The Virgins but were on a mission to catch Four Corners. When Mike came in they were over a lap down but lapping quite a bit quicker so Sam was told to give it all he dared. With a drying track he put in some really quick times and was about 6 or 8 seconds a lap quicker. He gained enough time to get onto the same lap but as the chequered flag fell at six hours he was still about forty seconds behind. A great effort all the same.
So an absolutely fantastic result for both teams. Three Northern Monkeys and a Southern Softy were 1st in class A and 3rd overall in handicap and Three Virgins and a Big Berry Tart were just one behind at 2nd in class A and 4th overall. Four Corners were 2nd overall and were technically first in class A but the rules state only one trophy per team so everybody moved up a spot in the class. Scratch positions were Monkeys 39th, Virgins 55th and Four Corners 45th. The Growlers came in at 17th on handicap and 59th on scratch. Very good for their first Birkett. 67 teams entered in total.
It was a brilliant team effort with everybody doing their bit. A massive thank you to everyone involved. Firstly the drivers as without them there wouldn’t have been a race. Richard, Chris, Andy, Fiona, Lucy, Dan, Ryan, James and Baz in the garage and on the pitwall. The ladies for providing the food and catering facilities. Thomas and Allan for capturing the event on film. The wives, girlfriends, families and friends that came and supported us and everybody else that I’ve probably failed to mention.
It was the perfect end to a cracking Locost season. Roll on next year. Hopefully it will be even bigger and better than this year.
Team SEWC (plus trophies!) left to right. Steve Wells, James Robbins, Brian Robbins, Dan Westwood, Matt Price and Ryan Munt standing.