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BRITISH ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 7 - SNETTERTON 14-08-11

A brand new circuit configuration and changeable weather throughout the weekend were two significant challenges that the teams faced at Snetterton for Round 7 of the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship. The new Snetterton 300 circuit had a significant and technical midfield section added to the original configuration, as well as a full resurface and changes to Sears and Corum – all good tests for the drivers and teams alike.

MacG Racing had taken a 2 race sabbatical from the championship in order to spend some time developing and testing the car, and to make some preliminary preparations for the 24 hour race in October. Practice at the new Snetterton 300 circuit was the first true test of the development work, and the drivers were particularly pleased with the improvements made to the car.

Britcar MacG Racing Ultima GTR Snetterton Jonny MacGregor Jamie Smyth

The first practice was particularly wet, in which the drivers spent time learning the new circuit – however the session was intermittent with numerous red flags interrupting proceedings, as the wet weather caught out some other drivers. The warm-up session was held on a drying track, with the first half being wet and the second half being dry – the track being very ‘green’ as the new surface dried out. However, MacG Racing drivers Jamie Smyth and Jonny MacGregor were able to find a grove and become comfortable with the track in the few dry laps that were available in the session.

Qualifying was dry. MacGregor headed out first for a 5 lap stint, and almost immediately went 2nd quickest behind the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458. MacGregor came in and handed over to Smyth, who struggled to get a clean run due to the weight of traffic on the circuit. Smyth came in for a few minutes and waited for the traffic to subside, before heading out again. However, halfway through his first flying lap, on an upshift from 2nd to 3rd, a driveshaft failure ended the session for MacG Racing. As the track became quicker as more rubber was deposited on the circuit, a host of quick times were posted by the other class one cars, bumping the Ultima GTR down to 6th on the grid for the race.

Having posted the quickest time in qualifying, MacGregor took the start for the race. The Ultima tried to dive up the inside of the GT3 Racing Viper at the first corner, however was squeezed onto the grass on the inside and lost a place to the Porsche that was on the 4th row. MacGregor spent a few laps behind the Porsche, before making a clean pass down the back straight. A couple of laps later the safety car was deployed, and all the front runners remained on track.

From the restart MacGregor was all over Craig Wilkins in the Viper, soon passing him under braking for The Esses. No sooner had MacGregor completed the manoeuvre, and another safety car was deployed. Callum Lockie in the Strata 21 Mosler and MacGregor in the Ultima pitted from 3rd and 4th respectively for the maximum allowed 25 litres of fuel, rejoining at the back of the field. The Azteca Mosler and the Scuderia Vittoria 458 followed suit a lap later, however they ended up behind Lockie and MacGregor come the restart.

Once the track went green, the four class one cars then charged through the field over the following laps, inches apart at many points, fighting for the effective lead. MacGregor was hounding Lockie, whilst trying to keep Dryburgh and Morcillo at bay in the 458 and the Azteca Mosler. The Ultima dived down the inside of the Strata 21 Mosler at the first turn, however Lockie defended well and MacGregor lost momentum, losing out to the Ferrari and the Azteca Mosler. The pair slipstreamed Lockie down the back straight, and took the white Mosler into the Esses.

Britcar MacG Racing Ultima GTR Snetterton Jonny MacGregor Jamie Smyth

MacGregor continued his stint for a few more laps, but was forced to pit after some debris was fired out the back of a Marcos, tearing off some ducting from the underside of the Ultima. After an extended stop in which the car was refuelled and the damaged ducting was removed, Jamie Smyth charged off, now down to 21st place after the extended stop. A great pitstop considering extensive ducting had to be removed from underneath the car!

Jamie Smyth then put in a heroic charge, however, with the damaged ducting removed, fuel overheating issues started to kick in, and as the fuel load became less, the car started to cut-out and misfire severely. This lost around 5-10 seconds per lap, and Smyth was forced to pit more regularly to top up with cool fuel. Despite this issue, Smyth kept up a great place, and eventually handed back to MacGregor having miraculously recovered up to 14th place.

MacGregor continued Smyth’s impressive pace, however the advantage of the new cooler fuel quickly disappeared, and MacGregor was soon forced to cope with the car cutting out. MacGregor managed to bring the car up to 10th place overall, despite the fuel issue. He handed over to Smyth, who kept the car running for the remaining 40 minutes to the chequered flag, and maintained sufficient pace to gain another position and bring the car home in 9th place overall, and 3rd in class.

In all it was an eventful weekend for MacG Racing, however once again a great team spirit, an impressive display of teamwork, and some highly organised and efficient pitstops helped the team come home with a strong result. Having run as high as 2nd in the first half of the race, the team are showing what they really are capable of.

Gallery courtesy of Xynamic.com available here.

Official Britcar race report can be found here.

Just Doors UK sponsoring MacG Racing
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