Alistair Barclay and Charlie Hollings combined for a trophy-winning start to the MSA British Dunlop Endurance Championship at a wet Silverstone on Saturday (28-March). The British duo took a third place class finish in the first race, before securing a class victory in the second of the two 90-minute enduros on the National Circuit at the Towcester track.
Fresh from a class win at the Mugello 12 Hours just a fortnight previous, Optimum Motorsport ran the pairing in the highly successful Ginetta G55 GT4. The aim of the meeting was to give Barclay track-time ahead of further GT rounds throughout the rest of 2015. The 25-year-old is a newcomer to motor racing and after enjoying 1:1 road car coaching with Hollings at the end of last year, decided to see where he might fair in a competitive race scenario in a purpose-built race car.
To ensure Barclay got the most from the races, he started both races, and the London-based Entrepreneur proved to be a quick learner, getting to grips with the tricky conditions and delivering the car back to Hollings for the final half of the race in contention for a class podium. Sensing the weather was soon to change, Hollings and the team agreed to put on slick tyres, in a bid to overcome those ahead of them. It was a gamble that paid off, but only in the final laps of the race, meaning Hollings and Barclay had to settle for fourth overall, third in class.
The second race of the day began at the end of the afternoon and proved to be a more straightforward race. Starting from second in class, Barclay got into the lead after ten laps, passing the BMW M3 of Richard Neary. As the stint progressed, Barclay’s pace improved and his lead began to grow. Hollings took over at the halfway mark again and stroked the Ginetta home to a comfortable class win – finishing half a lap ahead of their nearest rivals at the flag.
“Alistair had really good pace throughout the day. Considering he didn’t test here on Friday like a lot of people did, that was really impressive,” said Hollings. “He was a bit rusty to start with, but began putting into practice what I had taught him. We gambled on slicks in the first race and in hindsight we shouldn’t have. Other than that, it was a perfect day. We took fastest lap in both races and we picked up two trophies. We had a really good weekend and we’ll probably be back for more before the summer, time allowing.”
It was a dominant display and both drivers are keen to return to the Optimum fold in the near future, as Barclay continues his development under the watchful eye of Hollings.
The next round of the 2015 MSA British Dunlop Endurance Championship is at the popular Dutch sea-side circuit of Zandvoort. Optimum is yet to confirm its entry to the event, but the team has experience of the North Sea circuit, taking in two 60-minute races en-route to the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT4 Championship.