It’s a 29-car grid for the revived Dunlop 24 Hours at Silverstone this weekend, incorporating GTs prototypes, touring cars and 24-hour specials across four classes.
Possibly the most high-profile entry is the Team LNT Ginetta-Nissan LMP3 car, with a full driver line-up of Ginetta boss Lawrence Tomlinson, factory driver Mike Simpson, ELMS class-winning team-mates Sir Chris Hoy and Charlie Roberston, plus French Nissan GT Academy graduate Gaetan Paletou. This will be Hoy’s first 24-hour race and Paletou’s second, after the Dubai 24 Hours in January.
“This is all about getting mileage on the car and drivers,” Simpson told us. “It’s the car Paletou and I finished second in at Silverstone and now it’s about to do its first 24-hour race – and it wasn’t even built 14 days ago! We’ll go around at a reasonable pace – it’s a 24-hour test in public, really. We want to be 5,000km of testing ahead of our customers.”
The other prototype in the race is the #10 Radical of GT Academy boss Laurence Wiltshire and his team-mates. Chahin Nouri, Martyn Smith and ‘Richard Roberts’.
Class 1 is also home to the variety of GT2 and GT3 machinery entered, including an MJC Ferrari 430 (winner in 2010) shared by Joe Macari and Witt Gamski, plus British GT regulars Phil Dryburgh and Rory Butcher. The Geddies junior and senior are aboard the #14 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup car, while Simon Green motorsport has entered one of the venerable Apex Motorsport Jaguar XKRs, with James Hunt’s son Freddie among the drivers and there’s and Audi R8 GT3 entered by Peter Cook.
This class includes a pair of Topcats Marcos Mantis, a Ferrari 430 Challenge entered by John Stack, Carvell Motorsport’s Nurburgring 24 Hours-conquering Jaguar XF-S diesel and two MARC Cars Australia Ford Focus V8s being run in co-operation with Barwell Motorsport.
The first has regular GT team-mates Tom Onslow-Cole and Paul White at the wheel, along with Australians Ben Gersekowski and Gary Jacobsen, while the second is being driven by Barwell MD Mark Lemmer, BTCC veteran James Kaye and Barwell’s Team Russia gentleman drivers from this year’s Blancpain Endurance Series, Leo Machitski and Timur Sardarov. MARC Cars boss Ryan McLeod gave DSC a thorough walkaround of one of the cars in the garage, and we’ll have a more in-depth feature on these interesting machines in the coming days.
The majority of the entries here are GT4s, incuding Aston Martin Vantage for CEO Andy Palmer, which he’s sharing with the company’s design director Marek Reichmann, GP3 driver Alice Powell and Autocar journalist Andrew Frankel. “This weekend is a mixture of fun and work,” Palmer told us. “Racing is intrinsic to the brand so as CEO it’s vital I get involved at the sharp end. Yesterday was my first time on slicks in proper conditions and last night was my first time running in the dark. It’s looking like I may get my first rain laps as well.”
Palmer’s Aston is being run by the factory, with Aston Martin Racing in action at the second round of VLN at the Nurburgring this weekend. Palmer said he has no plans to change the structure of how Aston goes racing, with the works WEC and other GT programmes being taken care of by the Prodrive-run AMR organisation and also confirmed that GT3 and GT4 versions of forthcoming Aston road-cars were a certainty. “It’s unthinkable that we wouldn’t keep building race cars that Aston owners can relate to,” he said.
Other entries in Class 3 include the APO Sport Porsche 911 Cup Car, a Beechdean Aston GT4 for Andrew Howard, Harry Whale and Aston Martin Evolution Academy drivers Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn. There’s another Aston GT4 from Speedworks, where Tony Hughes is joine by Blancpain GT regular Devon Modell, plus Ollie Hancok and James Gilbert. Cor Euser Racing has entered a Lotus Evora, there’s Corum Motorsport Chevron and BMW M3s from Moss Motorsport and Rollcentre Racing.
CLASSES 4 & 5
Class 4 features mostly touring cars, including BMWs from Saxon Motorsport, WEC Motorsport and JR Motorsport, SEAT Leons from 24H Series regular Bas Koeten Racing and SICL, plus a Porsche 968 run by CHF500. There are just three entries in Class 5: The Red Camel/Jordans.nl and WEC Motorsport SEATs, plus a Ford Fiesta for Mensley Motorsport.