BARWELL CREW ROBBED OF TOP 3 OVERALL RESULT AFTER INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE - 22/09/08

Barwell Motorsport returned to the increasingly popular Britcar Silverstone 24 Hours event last weekend, this time with its Class 4 Honda Integra Type R (DC5). Having won Class 4 of the event in 2005 with a Honda Accord, we were looking to repeat this performance and also put in a giant-killing act to bring the car home inside the top 10 overall against a 50-strong field including GT2, GT3 and GT4 machinery.

 

Lining up in the ‘Teggy’ for the 24 Hours were its regular Britcar race pilots, Mark Lemmer and Mike Brown, Barwell MD and technician respectively, and two of the team’s 2007 British GT drivers, Ben de Zille Butler and Guy Harrington. Both Ben and Guy were making their front-wheel-drive racing debuts, and sampled the car for the first time during the Thursday test session. The Barwell Motorsport-built Honda was immediately on the Class 4 pace during testing and free practice, and was then entrusted to former BTCC star Lemmer for Friday’s official qualifying session. Mark duly delivered his customary polished qualifying performance, and obliterated the opposition to take class pole by nearly two seconds!

 

Young Mike Brown lined up on the grid on Saturday to take the start of his first Silverstone 24 Hours, and was immediately thrown into the deep end as the overall leaders suffered a big startline accident which saw a lot of cars off the track. Mike picked his way carefully through the debris and carried on in the class lead. After nearly an hour of running behind the safety car the race resumed and Mike settled into a very good pace for such an inexperienced driver at this level. The second-place Class 4 car of Mardi Gras Motorsport was being driven by the very experienced Julian Rouse, who passed Mike for the lead during the second hour. We were happy that the combined pace of our four drivers would take us back past this car in due course, however. When the Mardi Gras machine was delayed with an on-track incident just after the two hour mark, we then took over the class lead.

 

This Class 4 lead was maintained when Guy took over, and after four hours of racing we had already climbed to ninth overall and had a lap advantage over the Mardi Gras Integra and the TJH Motorsport Honda Civic. Ben took over from Guy and was followed by Mark, as the Barwell car continued its relentless rise up the order to run in fourth overall after eight hours. All of our drivers had put in great stints, with strong consistent pace and no mistakes, and this was proving hard for most of the field to match. “The great thing about our Integra is that it’s wonderfully balanced,” commented Mark Lemmer, “and we can do the same lap times right the way through a complete 2hr 20mins stint.”

This pace, combined with super efficient strategy and pit stops from the very experienced Barwell Motorsport squad, then took the little two-litre Honda up to an incredible second overall

at the 10-hour mark. Mike was back behind the wheel, and amazingly we had been continually holding off a trio of Class 2 GT4 Aston Martin N24s ! At this stage we had a four lap class lead over the TJH Civic, and everything was going according to plan. Half way into the 11th hour, however, disaster struck as the engine suffered a head gasket failure and we were out of the race - A very cruel blow after an amazing performance from the car, drivers and team.

 

At the end of the race, that trio of Aston Martin N24s we were holding at bay finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th overall, with the race being won overall by an ex-American Le Mans Series GT2 Porsche RSR. After the retirement of the Honda, Mark Lemmer went on to assist the Mitsubishi factory team with driving duties, and contributed to a successful historic debut race finish for the brand new Mitsubishi Evo 10.

 

Finally, the team’s thoughts and best wishes are with Andy Neate and his family, after he sustained serious injuries during the startline accident.

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