Saturday 28th October 2017 @ Silverstone Historic Grand Prix Circuit in Northamptonshire, UK.
Jim Clark, Graham Hill , Gerry Marshall, Vic Elford and Richard Attwood all took part in it. Steve McQueen is said to have become hooked on endurance racing as a result of it. Colin Chapman, Jem Marsh and Eric Broadley developed their now-famous brands with help from it. What is ‘it’? The famous Birkett Six-Hour Relay Race, in which historic saloons can run up against modern specials. Up to 70 teams of between four and six drivers compete to lap the circuit as many times as possible within the six hours, with only one vehicle per team allowed out on track at any one time. Entry is restricted to saloon and sports cars – no open-wheelers – but that still allows for a hugely eclectic mix of cars of all ages out on track.
In fact, the Birkett is often said to be two events in one, because in addition to competing for the maximum number of laps in the Six-Hours, teams also compete in a handicap classification, which in theory can be won by anyone. Each team, unless it’s in ‘scratch’ position, is credited with a number of laps, according to perceived performance (based on observations and timings by the organisers at previous race meetings throughout the season). This means all teams should have a chance of winning the handicap side of the competition. In fact, due to the volume of traffic on track, it actually favours the slower cars, which are more easily able to meet their target race times as they’re less affected by congestion. The event is over a single day with qualifying starting at 9:00am and the race it’s self-kicking off at 11:45am for over 6 hours.
Like all endurance events, the Birkett is a team event and this year we are part of the “Legends of the 1990s”. The team is made up of a trio of turbo charged 4wd cars and a trio of BMW M3s. Normally racing together in the Classic Sports Car Club Modern Classics, this motley crew of racers have joined forces to take on the best of endurance racing. With two ex-rally cars and lots of driven wheels, the team are hoping for a 50/50 wet dry to make best use of the cars capabilities and drivers alike. The 4wd contingent is made up of a duo of Toyotas in the shape of a Celica GT4 sporting a brand new engine of Richard Hayes as well as the 3.0 twin turbo Supra of Roger Hayes. The final 4wd car is our Lancia Delta HF integrale 16v, a fresh build for this year. The team of mightily rapid BMWs is made up of Michael Russell, Tim Barley and last but not least Matthew Johnson. Racing on list tyres, the team has entered in class b as well as the overall handicap race with hopefully a very slow target time to beat! Check out Tom Barley’s facebook page.
The team went testing at Donington Park this week on the national circuit. The aim of the day was to get the car better set up for the dry so we are able to take the fight to the front of the field. Autumn (or “fall” to our American friends) is not the best time to go testing a dry setup and we had a day of fog, rain and cold. This meant that whilst exploring the balance of the car and the limits of grip there may have been some drifting!
Not the quickest way around a circuit but enormous fun never the less. Came away 2.5 seconds faster than our last race two weeks ago where we managed an overall win. http://youtu.be/b2itOICjjKw
Looking at the forecast, at the moment it is cloudy and dry but definitely on the cold side with temperatures from 8 to 12 degrees Celsius (48F to 54F). The Lancia has both the Nankang AR-1 for dry and the Nankang NS-2R for any heavy downpours on standby, but all fingers and toes are crossed for rain!
All to play for and the team are confident that if it rains we should do well. Here is a video from last year in the Renault Clio 182 championship car with “Team Clio 182”.
Live timing for the event: http://www.theresultslive.co.uk/750-motor-club/2017/750-motor-club-2