Brits sweep at the Brit's Home Round
XTCR X5 Round 1 Review
For the first time in Exiled XTCR history, unbelievably, Silverstone played host to a round of the XTCR championship. the opening round on the National layout, classic and synonymous with touring car racing.
Practice saw an early indicator of what was to come, where the top 23 drivers of the 36 car grid were all within 1 second of each other on the timing board. Lee Horne of the Nxtgen Racing team in the bright yellow DHL Cupra took the honours in practice.
The marshals waved green as qualifying got under way where a flood of cars rushed to the pit exit to help their chances of getting a spot position within the traffic. Slip-streaming is a key part of getting a good time at Silverstone, and the drivers were eager to position themselves within their clans.
Qualifying was a roller coaster of drivers jumping up and down the field as many were finding a tenth here, another tenth there. But in the end, ProFormula’s Zhirayr Gurunyan came through to take pole and 5 points with a time of 58.926 – the only 58 time in Qualifying. Defending champion Jimi Hughes would line up second, and practice victor Lee Horne lined it up third.
There was however some drama in Qualifying as former Exiled DTM champion William Foyle and his teammate Alex foyle had both suffered technical difficulties in the latter part of qualifying. Both were in the top 10, but they would miss out on Race 1 as a result – a bad start for the Foyle brothers.
The flag for race 1 drops, 30+ cars hurdle into Copse corner at 100+ mph. No major drama happened on lap 1 despite many swapping positions. The drama came on lap 2, as Jimi Hughes lined up an overtake on Zhirayr Gurunyan going into Maggots corner, the two collided and spun off the track into the gravel. Subsequently handing the lead over to Jamie Dorey.
The remainder of race 1 was very much an intense back and forth battle between Jamie Dorey, Lee Horne, Alex Everitt and Sandor Hevesi. Sandor Hevesi was the first to take the lead and hold it for many laps until Sandor out-broke himself going into Maggotts corner, and losing out to many positions, eventually finishing in 5th.
The final laps became the battle for Britain, Jamie Dorey inheritted the lead from Hevesi’s mistake but was continuously hounded by ex-XTCR champion Alex Everitt. Dorey hung onto the lead and took the chequered flag in what was his first ever win in an Exiled VM league. Alex Everitt hung on to second after an impressive climb throughout the race from 7th. Lee Horne came through in 3rd, where he started. Clearly, a great start for the Nxtgen team in their drivers Horne and Dorey.
Race 2 – due to server issues, the reverse grid could not be applied to this race, therefore the decision by the organisers resulted in the field needing another qualifying session. Where this time it was Jimi Hughes who took pole position ahead of Zhirayr Gurunyan, and 3rd to Lee Horne again.
Throughout the race, the aforementioned trio battled relentlessly for the 16 laps they had, although the stats don’t tell that as Jimi led every lap, he was always kept honest by Horne and Gurunyan behind, who had swapped positions from their starting.
All Brits had won races 1 and 2, would another take race 3? It was certainly looking likely with the likes of Scott Mclean and Ben Pain – Hyundai Lukoil teammates qualifying on the front row. Unfortunately for them they couldn’t hang on to the lead for too long, as Alexander Jakobbson took an early lead, an unfortunate mistake from the Swedish driver resulted in Serbian Nenad Vladisavljevic taking the lead and hanging onto it for much of the race. But, the Brits were coming – Harry Melvin and Geoff Purkiss in the Volkswagens were hot on his tail, until eventually on Lap 11, Nenad out-broke himself into Maggotts, giving way the lead to the two Volkswagen drivers.
Melvin and Purkiss battled hard for the remainder of the race, Melvin eventually took the win and his first ever Exiled league win as the sun and day descended at Silverstone. William Foyle took a notable third place finish in race 3, a great comeback after his issues earlier in the night – who also completed the all Brit and all Volkswagen podium in race 3.
Next week the drivers fly over the North Sea, to Mantorp Park in Sweden. A tight, slow and narrow track – another element of difficulty already added to the just gone Silverstone National circuit. Jamie Dorey will lead the championship going into the second round, with teammate Lee Horne close behind.
You can watch all the action on Wednesdays LIVE from JackoRacing via Facebook, commentated by Jack Oliphant from 21:00 UK time every Wednesday.