Glorious sunshine accompanied the biggest historic race weekend of the year. The M & C Wilkinson team had hopes of a highly competitive weekend against the cream of historic Pre 66’ GT cars and drivers.
With a dry forecast for the most important weekend on the calendar the team were in high spirits of finally achieving a top ten result and a problem free six hours. Qualifying was late on Friday evening with Chris Scragg, Dave Coyne and Mark Wright aboard XAN555.
With Chris out first he set about finding clear air with a 108 car field making space at a premium. He immediately was on the pace managing to dip below the 3 minute mark before handing over to Dave Coyne. Traffic was again making the perfect lap difficult to reach but Coyne was determined to do so and managed a 2 minute 53 seconds before Mark Wright took over.
Mark then set about acclimatising himself to the car for the first time setting a series of quick times before returning to pits in order to allow Dave one final flying lap. With a hour and a quarter of the session gone Dave had a clearer track and managed in one lap to go a second quicker than his benchmark set earlier leaving us 12th overall with a 2 minutes 52 seconds lap, fourth in class and second E-Type on the grid behind John Clarks E-Type 11th and ahead of three time winner John Minshaw 13th
The race then came late on Saturday afternoon starting just after four o’clock with Chris out first he made a great start keeping himself in the mix right from the off. Within the first hour he had settled within the top ten until the pace car was released due to a car rolling several times, the incident then led to a further four car pile up meaning an even longer safety car period which went on for well over half an hour.
When racing resumed Chris completed his 2 hour stint bringing the car in 9th and handing over to Dave. By not pitting for fuel under the safety car we had lost a large chunk of time and we soon knew we had a mountain to climb to try and regain our way in the standings. Dave was down in 38th at his point and within his first hour he had moved up and up making the top ten once more and by the end of his stint we lied in 3rd overall but still with a final fuel stop to make.
As dusk approached Dave stopped to allow Mark to take over XAN 555 for its final leg before the finish. We had now dropped down to sixth behind two GT40’s, one E-Type, one TVR Griff and a Daytona Cobra. Another safety car period came for around fifteen minutes before the action commenced once again.
Mark was putting in a consistent set of times and as the final hour approached the TVR made an unscheduled stop with brake issues moving us up to 5th overall and 3rd in class. Ten minutes later and the E-Type of Sandy Watson also made an unscheduled stop for brake issues also. We again moved up with just the Cobra left to try and overcome.
Mark had really found a rhythm setting the fastest lap of the race for team in the dark of the night. Half an hour to go and all started pacing the garage and pit lane. Could we keep going and survive to the finish.
Suddenly the Hart Cobra came in with yet again brake problems the cause. We had a lap to make up so as the clock ticked slowly the Cobras mechanics set about bleeding the brakes. With the Cobra still stationary Mark crossed the line and moved ahead in the standings but they soon made chase.
But despite all their efforts they could not match Marks consistency as he gradually increased the gap lap by lap. The team could barely dare to watch as the clock ticked down ever slower to the finish. Finally the chequered flag fell and as Mark crossed the line the team erupted into jubilation.
First in class, third overall in the hardest ever Spa 6 Hours in its nineteen year history with an average speed of over 94mph with only 2 GT40’s finishing in front. The whole M & C Wilkinson team would like to particularly congratulate Chris for this incredible achievement.