Marcus Clutton crosses the line in the PB Racing Audi R8 after 2 hours at a sunny Snetterton

It was no surprise that Peter Erceg and Marcus Clutton were overall winners of the two-hour race in the PB Racing by JMH Audi GT3, but what was a bit of a surprise was the second overall place achieved by championship newcomers David Harrison and Nathan Luckey, in the Team Tasman Porsche 992 Cup; the Aussie mates have a rich provenance of Fun Cup, Rallying, and just about every Porsche championship, but their potential in the BEC was yet to be discovered.

Harrison joined pole-sitter Erceg on the front row of the grid, and as the red lights went out for the rolling start, tried to keep pace alongside the Audi into the first corner, but carried too much speed and took to the grass all the way around the turn, dropping the Porsche back towards the rear of the field, with some work to do. Taking advantage of this were Richard Avery’s Porsche 992, Chris Murphy’s BMW GTR and a particularly racy Aaron Morgan in the Team BRIT McLaren. Harrison began his impatient and somewhat ragged fight-back, finding the BEC regulars were not easy meat, Callum Thompson in the Newbarn Racing V8-powered Jaguar F-Type proving a difficult customer, while Bryan Bransom, in the Intersport BMW E46, was also picking his way through from the back, after an 11th-hour call-up to join the race. An early and quick unscheduled pit-stop for Chris Bialan in the Jabbasport Cupra identified a minor electrical glitch – he continued for several more laps, but decided, with pro-driver Simon Mason, to retire the car to ensure it was in tip-top condition for the following day’s Britcar Trophy races.

There was an issue for the Newbarn Jaguar too – after a competitive showing in the opening laps, Callum Thompson pulled up onto the grass at Oggies with prop shaft failure. The Safety Car was called to aid recovery of the stricken Jag, which would erode Erceg’s lead of nearly one and a half minutes, and thwart the attempts of Harrison to get past second-placed Avery’s Porche 992. The pit window had just opened, and the majority of the field elected to take their first mandatory stop, though staying out were Avery, who had assumed the lead, with Harrison close behind, and Bransom, now third in the BMW. There was a little confusion in the Safety Car wave-by process, but once sortd, Avery made a superb job of controlling the re-start, and kept the lead for the best part of a lap, before Harrison’s white 991 dived down the inside at Murrays, by which time Erceg’s Audi was now back in contention, taking Avery’s 992 running up to the Wilson hairpin, and emerging in the lead once the group had cleard the infield section. Harrison pitted around the 45-minute mark, handing over to Nathan Luckey for a middle stint, leaving Bransom the only non-stopper so far, in third place in the BMW, Aaron Morgan’s McLaren led a close-coupled train of Chris Murphy’s BMW and Bal Sidhu’s Porsche Cayman disputing fourth position. Erceg pitted the Audi again just before the hour was up, this time Marcus Clutton jumping in for the remainder of the race. It was all change for third again, with Murphy sneaking past Morgan at Murrays while Sidhu ducked-out of the contest and pitted the Cayman for pro-driver Josh Steed to take over. Avery pitted just into the final hour, leaving Nick Hull to take the Porsche to the flag, though with a second pit stop due. Jas Sapra had taken over the Intersport BMW from Bryan Bransom, but was soon back in to serve a stop/go penalty for speeding in the pit lane, and then again to serve a further stop/go for speeding during the previous stop/go –got to love Jas!

There was a flurry of final Porsche pit stops as the race entered the final half-hour – no driver change for Hull but Steed gave way to Bal Sidhu in the Xentex Cayman,and Harrison relieved Luckey in the Team Tasman machine for a final thrash to the flag. Chris Murphy, in a superb lone drive in the Woodrow-run BMW GTR, had assumed second place when the Tasman Porsche took it’s final stop, and Harrison was now on a mission to claim the place back, going, as a true Aussie would say, “flat out like a lizard drinking”, and as the clock ticked down, so the gap between the two protagonists decreased lap by lap; 15 seconds, 13 seconds,10 seconds, seven seconds … and with just two and a half minutes to go, the Porsche took the BMW across the line, and the deed was done.

The Team Tasman Porsche 991 Cup (centre) was a newcomer to the Britcar grid, taking P2 in both qualifying and the race

Clutton brought the Audi to the flag after a nice round 60 laps, significantly putting a further lap on the Hull/Avery Porsche just few corners from the finish to claim maximum championship points under the Hornsey Handicapping system, while David Harrison brought to Tasman Porsche home second overall, just over six seconds ahead of Class C compatriot Chris Murphy. This was a supreme performance by both, earning newcomers Harrison, Luckey, and the tight Team Tasman crew the BEC Outstanding Achievement award, and Murphy, who had been on the money from the get-go, losing out on class pole by just 0.044 seconds,but running out of fuel in the final laps, the Rowe Driver of the Day trophy. Fourth place went to Class D victors Team BRIT, with Paul Fullick complementing Aaron Morgan’s earlier good work in the McLaren 570S in a faultless run. Fifth overall was the MacG Racing Ginetta G55, claiming the Class G win; Arthur Simondet has been an early-season revelation, bringing a mature attitude to the format from his track day and C1 racing experience, though Jonny MacGregor was somewhat disappointed with the early Safety Car intervention, while sixth-placed Class B winners Richard Avery and Nick Hull, leaders at one point during the pit-stop sequences, are rapidly improving in their new Porsche 992. Bal Sidhu top-and-tailed pro-driver Josh Steed’s middle stint in the Xentex Porche Cayman, and were stymied by an additional pit stop due to miscommunication – by sheer pace, they could have been around fourth overall, but they finished a lap ahead of father and son duo Neville and Chris Jones in the Venture Innovations Mercedes GT4, a solid performance from Neville in his first race for a year after an Achilles issue, and it was another good showing for Bransom and Sapra in the Intersport BMW E46, who endured refuelling in the garage and double penalties on their way to the finish.

David Harrison and Nathan Luckey, sharing the Porsche 991 Cup, were recipients of our Outstanding Achievement award

The Driver of the Day award, sponsored by ROWE, went to BMW driver Chris Murphy.

Words: Steve Wood, photos: Paul Cherry