BEC Oulton Park – Victory for Marrs and Jackson

Wayne Marrs and Tom Jackson took a convincing win in Round 2 of the British Endurance Championship, their Rob Boston Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 finishing a lap ahead of lone-driver Jonny MacGregor’s MacG Racing Taranis in the two-hour race. But behind this headline is a story to be told.

Wayne Marrs, in the pole-sitting Mercedes went into the lead as the lights went out at the rolling start, and Kevin Clarke’s BMW Z4 slotted into second ahead of Gleb Stepanovs in the Aston Martin Vulcan, while Jonny MacGregor had a spin in the Taranis, which dropped him to the back of the field, with some work to do. The leading pair pulled out a massive gap to the rest of the field, which was headed by Ollie Turner’s Team Hard Porsche 911, with Clarke continually on Marrs’ tail, but nine laps in, they hit traffic through Old Hall, and Clarke seized the moment – there was the hint of a sideswipe kiss as the BMW got a better run down the Avenue, and then began to pull away. Meanwhile,  Turner maintained a respectable distance ahead of Carl Cavers’ Cayman, Stepanovs’ Vulcan, Chris Goddard’s Ferrari, and a close-packed cluster featuring Dave Benett’s Porsche, Will Foster in the rejuvenated CTR-Alfatune SEAT, and the Team Hard Ginetta G55s of Ray Harris and Josh Hislop. Cutting through too, were MacGregor’s Taranis, and from the pit lane, Angus Fender’s Viper, both using old-school American cubic inches, and of course, no small amount of skill.

With the pit window open, first in was Peter Montague, handing the T7 Aston Martin over to consummate pro Stuart Hall. Dave Benett brought the Bespoke Defenders Porsche in a few laps later, handing over to Marcus Fothergill to take the middle stint of their three-hander,  while Ollie Turner also vacated his comfortable third place, though 40 seconds behind the leaders, being relieved by Callum Jenkins in the Team Hard Porsche. Not so Wayne Marrs, though – he was still in touch with Clarke’s BMW, and was getting his money’s worth of track time, leaving it until lap 31 to take the first stop, and handing over to Tom Jackson. Leader Clarke left it just a little later, Ryan Lindsay taking over and emerging from the pitlane just ahead of the Mercedes, which was back in front while Lindsay got up to speed. Not for long, though – the Z4 slowed, and pitted, a drive shaft failure signifying the end of a sensational performance. Jonny MacGregor consolidated his run from the back of the field by taking the lead for just one lap before pitting the Taranis, but the BMW’S failure wasn’t the only issue on that same fateful lap; Alex Day’s SEAT, the erstwhile TCR class leader in Will Foster’s hands, had come to a halt out on the circuit, also with a broken driveshaft, and Steve Tomkins, in the Vulcan started by Stepanovs, had a self-admitted lapse of skill and pitted, after a visit to the tyre wall, for some cosmetic adjustments to the bodywork; they would finish down the order, 12th overall, but still on the bottom step of the Class A podium. Adjustments were also required to the tyre wall, leading to the deployment of the Safety Car, which was an opportune moment to recover the Foster/Day TCR machine back to the pits for repairs. Once the field went green again, Jackson had a clear track ahead of him, and whilst he still had a good lead over the Taranis after the second round of pit stops, never let up, even punching in the fastest lap of the race a few laps before the flag fell, and finishing a lap ahead of MacGregor, who’s superb lone drive earned the Sunoco Driver of the Day award.

Words – Steve Wood

Photographs – Stevie Borwik