On the 24th - 25th June 2017 drivers from across the eSport world gathered in teams to race for 12 Hours non stop for charity. Dubbed the Charity12, the teams took part by racing on Forza Motorsport 6 in an event being run by Virtual Racing Association racing around Silverstone in stints of 2 hours a time for a chance to be crowned 2017 Britcar Live eSport champions. The event was fully supported by Britcar Endurance with the main aim to raise funds & increase awareness for 3 chosen charity's, Macmillan Cancer Support Crohn's and Colitis UK British Lung Foundation
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Qualifying for the Britcar Endurance Charity 12 had been a tightly fought affair with some teams going all out with a specific qualifying setup while others concentrate on the race preparation & strategy required for endurance racing. Teams were given the option to run 2 or more drivers with the fastest individual lap by the team deciding their teams overall position starting place, With qualifying being run the whole week prior to the race it would not be until the final hours on Friday night that the starting lineup for the race was to be decided.
Throughout qualifying DART racing's Matthew Gale looked on course to be the driver to secure the Pole Position setting an impressive time early on Wednesday with a 02:01:561. However by Friday things had turned into a heated affair between Wayne Keeting & Kevin Bolland both driving for Team Raven Racing in separate cars each looking to steal the limelight from the other by snatching Pole on the last day.
With just a couple of hours too go qualifying remained close with drivers from each team setting times but none fast enough to deprive DART from a historic Pole, That was until the last 30 minutes of Qualifying as Ben Climo of Team Raven Kakaw Racing set a shattering 02:00:953 around Silverstone sending the pit lobby into a raptures applause, starting a chain of drivers to leave the pits looking to capitalise on the conditions too set their fastest lap time.
The British Lung Foundation Ferrari 458 GTE run by Double B Racing was next too cause a stir as team owner & Ginetta race engineer Samuel Battersby produced a superb personnel effort setting a 02:01:187 moving into a brief second spot on the grid, with times tumbling around & drivers pushing the limits too achieve that bit extra Thomas Clarkson would push too hard slamming the Macmillan Cancer Support Ferrari heavily into the wellington strait Armco destroying the car in the process while also bringing out the Red flag's effectively ending the qualifying session for everyone at that moment.
Pole. Team Raven Kakaw Racing - 2:00.923
2. British Lung Foundation - 02:01:187
3. DART - 02:01:561
4. Team Raven Pink Racing - 2:01.611
5. VRA MCS - 2:02.103
6. DAC Racing - 2:02.476
7. ATA Racing - 2:02.872
8. Team Raven Raptor Racing - 2:02.987
9. VRA CAC - 2:03.193
Following Thomas Clackson big crash in the final moments of qualifying Fazed Racing where in a race against time to fix their damaged Ferrari 458 GTE, Despite assistance from Double B Racing & Virtual Racing both of whom where running identical cars at just past 1 am the team conceded that the car was beyond repair.
A distraught Ali Johnston was seen running around the paddock desperately looking for a spare car, Their was even talk of the lone BMW Z4 of JSB Developments being handed over to help but with neither Dean Rutherford or Jack Braley where able to assist due to issues of their own it looked like Fazed Racing where set to withdraw from the event.
At 3am came the news that JSB development would not be entering the event having made great attempts to fix the BMW Z4 the loss of traction to the rear of the car proved to much for the team to fix forcing the team to roll down the garage blind without even turning a wheel around Silverstone.
The mourning brought more bad news with Matt Gale team owner of Virtual Racing announcing he would not be racing due to a family emergency leaving Cian Walsh on his own in the #83 Crohns & Colitis Ferrari 458 GTE, efforts where made to allow Fazed Racing too take over the running of the car but with no sign of Ali Johnston would mean the team would be forced to continue on as a solo effort.
News came in shortly after 10 in the mourning that a new car had been found for Fazed Racing & despite numerous cheers together with a few joking on lookers the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 was unloaded of the back of a AA transporter, much to the delight of Ali Johnston who quickly got his team too work on fully prepping the car ready for the race.
12 HOURS OF SILVERSTONE
Race time with the crowds flocking in the drivers where busy attending the drivers meeting, Andrew Lines however found this a bit dreary & was found asleep in the now well used porta loo just next too Village corner. Afterward this excitement the teams had a 30 minute warm up which most used to check over their cars setup & discuss strategy for the start the only issue appeared to be the same porta loo at village corner where Ali Johnston, Alex Cochrane & Kevin Bolland where now queuing outside while Andrew Lines was inside.
With that drama out the way the teams assembled on the grid, with the build up over the all new Audi RS6 safety car began leading the field away Wayne Keeting starting on pole alongside Samuel Battersby in a complete Ferrari front row lock out. As the cars rounded the last corner the drivers looked on as the lights changed from red to green, Kevin Bolland made the first big move passing the British Lung Foundation Ferrari into copse & very nearly the sister car of Team Raven in the proses.
Further back Cian Walsh & Alex Marsh where imbedded in a tight fight for 5th with both drivers swapping places through out the opening laps, As the field settled down Ali Johnston & Matthew Gale found themselves under pressure from Martyn Bastion putting all of them into a stint long fight.
One hour in & Wayne Keeting held a slender lead from Kevin Bolland despite a safety car period for a spinning car into the in field most of the driving had been pretty tight with drivers each looking to capitalise on the mistakes of the others to give them an edge. Pit stop's strategy calls & the long evening would play key over the next few hours as drivers settled down for the long race ahead. At just over 1/4 distance a stuck fuel hose would see the Audi of DAC racing spend nearly a minute longer than planned in the pits allowing ATA racing to close the gap back up nearly passing Alex March on the exit of the magnets & beckets complex.
The first key driver change too place between Wayne Keeting & Ben Climo of Team Raven Kawkaw Racing with no major issues this allowed Kevin Bolland too take the lead all be it briefly as he was due in for a fresh set of Dunlop rubber, the Porsche GT3 RSR proving to be poor on fuel had required the team to fuel save from the start raising questions over its ability too do long runs compared to the Ferrari.
Following issues with the car a loss of a key driver & fatigue setting in it was just after the 4 hour mark that the shutters went down on the Crohns & Colitis garage, fears over driver safety had seen the Ferrari 458 GTE make several unscheduled trips too the pit's caused mainly by the underfloor coming loose resulting in a oil leak. The retirement brought out a brief Safety car this time for to allow the oil to be cleared of the first corner Having made their driver swap earlier than planned Leigh Beardwood had slowly closed in on Team Raven Pink Racing putting pressure on Kevin Bolland too keep it on the track.
At the restart Kevin Bolland was caught napping allowing the British Lung Foundation Ferrari to pull of one of the moves of the day, around the outside of farm curve moving into 2nd place to the cheer of the crowds watching on & to the delight of the Double B Racing team.
As the race thundered on mistakes were made fatigue became a serious factor & at just over 8 hours gone the words back to the Team Raven Raptor Racing pit didn't bow well. With the Safety car re deployed & medical car on scene a severely tired Andrew lines had pulled over on the Wellington strait complaining that he could no longer feel his hands, feet or see much in front of him. With the car pulled to one side the team decided to withdraw from the race leaving 13 drivers to battle it out for the remainder of the 12 hours.
At just 1 hour too go Kevin was handed a bit of luck while under caution following Thomas Clarkson hitting the wall in the MacMillan Mercedes, Wayne had hit the back of the safety car damaging his Ferrari and allowing Kevin to close to within the same lap, So it became a strait fight with Ben Climo, Wayne Keeting & Kevin Bolland for the overall victory. The minutes ticked on Dominic Occhiochiuso had moved the ATA Racing Mercedes up to 4th with Andrew Potter now in 3rd, problems for the British Lung Foundation Ferrari had seen it fall too far behind too challenge for the podium.
All the drivers who took part had given their all each pushing the others to find that bit of extra performance, less time in the pits, increase in distance that in the end could have counted for a place change or top 3. After 12 hours 6 Safety Cars 7 numerous pit stops the orange & black Ferrari 458 GTE of Team Raven Kakwa Racing crossed the finish line to take victory & win the Britcar Endurance Live eSport Charity 12 hours, It hadn't been easy they didn't lead the race all the way but as the paddock enjoyed the moment they had achieved a memorable victory that couldn't be taken away from them.