The Birkett is an endurance race where 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. 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.
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.
Racing against Top Gear saw Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Read entered with a trio of comedy cars. Matt was in a Bentley, Harris with a S600 and Rory had a Rolls with massive, wheels, wings and diffusers. The forfeit car was a Dacia Sandero which looked completely standard.
The starting order of the race is determined by the team’s handicap and we started on the 23rd row in position 46. The Lancia took up the baton to take part in the first stint fuelled up for an hour of racing with the aim of making up places and keeping out of trouble.
After a good start, seemingly overtaking some drivers not quite awake start we set about picking off competitors one by one and ended up finishing the session a respectable position 25 on scratch and 21st on handicap at the one hour mark. Second out on the road was Roger and then Richard Hayes who completed 45 minutes each. After the second hour Matt completed his first 30 minute stint and then Tom did an hour in his rapid BMW 325. At the half way mark the team was position 36 on the road and 22nd on handicap. Then over the next three hours, Richard and Matt did their second stint and Michael did his double stint and managed to pull out something pretty special. After a fill six hours of racing we finished position 32 on the road (14 positions better than hour handicap) and when taking in to account our credit laps, we were lucky 13th overall. Racing against 69 other highly competitive ammeter racers and coming away 13th is amazing and the whole team were really happy with the result.
Top Gear? They finished 69th out of 70 in both the scratch and handicap race. Unlike the first Top Gear race at Britcar, I got the impression they were not really competing but spent their time filming a narrative to suit their script. We managed to overtake a slow Chris Harris in his Mercedes but they were lapping 20 seconds slower than our team so there was no real contest. We look forward to the episode on TV and are hoping the Lancia makes an appearance.
The Birkett represents our last race of the season and we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We will be publishing a season highlights video over the next few weeks so don’t forget to subscribe, comment below and give the video a thumbs up.
Extended Version: http://youtu.be/rk9KNnQMgVo