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Scrapco Avon Intremarque race report,
Silverstone, 28th August 2016

By Rod Birley
Photos: Rafal Biniszewski

Intermarque With a couple of notable drivers absent, namely Chris Brockhurst and Ricky Hunn, it was still a good quality field of 15 plus 3 Sevenesque competitors. Qualifying saw the Caterham R300 of Anthony Bennett set the quickest time, just in front of Intermarque championship leader Malcolm Blackman. However, because the Sevenesque are an invited series they would be lining up behind the Intermarque grid. So next to Blackman on the front row would be Steve Burrows, followed by Keith White and Lewis Smith. Row three contained Mike Thurley, with Simon Smith alongside. Ian Hales put in a good time to take the next position with Ray Harris, driving Mark Fuller’s Mercedes, alongside. Chris Ayling was ninth with Daniel Smith occupying the seat in his father’s Mercedes this week. Young, Blackford, Taylor, Loram and Steward completed the Intermarque grid. Bennett, Linnett and Hargroves formed the Sevenesque trio.

Intermarque As the cars went to the assembly area for race one, all on dry weather tyres, a black cloud moved across the circuit. Suddenly a huge down pour began and everyone was sent back to their pit garages. With ten minutes to fit wet weather tyres, the decision was made to start the field from the pit lane. Two warm up laps behind the safety car gave the drivers just enough chance to see where the worst puddles were. As the red lights went out the pack tip toed towards Copse corner sending up a wall of spray. Immediately Blackman opened up a small lead as Lewis Smith held station about one second adrift. Burrows was in third with Simon Smith up to fourth. Harris was an impressive fifth, as White was slipping down the field. Ayling on the other hand was moving forward and soon took over fifth spot.

Intermarque On lap three Lewis Smith had a wayward excursion and dropped back to fourth, whilst Reuben Taylor moved from 13th to 7th. Blackman had built up a five second lead, but by lap six Burrows started to close the deficit. On lap 8 it was down to 2.3 seconds, as Blackman struggled for grip going into Luffield. The rain was increasing again, as Taylor skated off at Becketts. At the same time a troubled Hales ground to a halt next to the pit wall, despite trying valiantly to remove the stricken Tigra. The decision was therefore taken to prematurely end proceedings. This meant that Blackman won from Burrows and Simon Smith. Lewis Smith hung on to fourth from the closing Ayling, with Harris a good sixth. Next up was White, then Thurley, Dan Smith, Blackford and Young. Bennett was best of the Caterhams in 12th, followed by Linnett, Steward, Hargroves and Loram.

Sevenesque Race two saw Thurley in pole position, as the top 8 finishers were reversed. By now the rain had ceased and three drivers opted to fit slick tyres (Harris, Blackford and Loram). The rolling start saw much place swapping on the first lap and incredibly Lewis Smith emerged in the lead having gone four abreast into Luffield. White was second, with Simon Smith third, Ayling fourth and Blackman fifth. Harris was tumbling down the order, but all eyes were on the fascinating lead battle. Lewis Smith held sway for four laps, until Blackman picked his way through into the lead on lap five. White moved up to third quite quickly and looked very racy as Simon Smith watched on in fourth. Ayling still lead the next group, until Burrows got by on lap 8.

Intermarque Suddenly attention switched to Harris who was lapping faster than anyone else. He was also moving up the field and the commentators speculated on a possible podium position. Sadly it all went wrong on lap 7 as Ray hit a wet patch going through Maggots and gyrated into retirement. On lap 9 Blackman was caught by White, who had slipped past Lewis Smith. The crowd in the BRDC grandstand suddenly sensed an upset was on the cards and different groups cheered for their favourite driver. On lap 10 White hit the front and Lewis Smith followed him past Blackman, just as Simon Smith closed in. Lap 11 and the order was still the same at the finish line, although Burrows now made it a five car train. Lap 12 saw some more place changing as Simon Smith grabbed second spot, whilst Blackman was elbowed down to fifth behind Burrows. With the commentators hitting fever pitch everyone looked to see who would lead into Luffield. The No.38 red BMW seemed to have it under control until he went slightly off line in Luffield two. Simon Smith pounced and somehow found enough traction to sneak past and take the win by just 0.113 of a second. Burrows snatched third as Lewis Smith had a small excursion, which meant Blackman salvaged fourth. Thurley nipped past Ayling in another tight contest as Bennett held off Linnett for Sevenesque honours. The slick shod Blackford was next home setting the fastest lap at the end. Young, Hargroves, Taylor and Steward completed the finishers, as we lost Dan Smith and Loram near the end.

One of the best races of the season was warmly appreciated by all the spectators as well as the commentators who were also broadcasting live on Down Force radio. Blackford took the driver of the race award for his brave decision to go on slicks, and also setting the fastest lap time. Young, Loram, Dan Smith and Thurley each collected an Avon tyre for their efforts, but full marks go to Simon Smith for his outstanding win.

Next Race Meeting:

See you in 2019

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