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  • Simon Paice

Breakell Racing Produce Promising Performance In Nürburgring 24 Hours

Breakell Racing enjoyed a hugely competitive showing in the 2023 ADAC TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Nürburgring last weekend (18-21 May), producing class podium pace in their Porsche Cayman before an unfortunate incident out of their control meant their efforts were left unrewarded. Their great run on the world-famous Nürburgring Nordschleife came as part of another busy spell of racing for the Clitheroe based team, who also secured a podium finish in the latest round of the Ginetta GT Championship and continued their positive start to the Porsche Sprint Challenge GB season.

Breakell Racing’s entry into the 24h Nürburgring was the culmination of months of preparation on the iconic 15-mile Nordschleife circuit, having previously run their new-for-2023 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 in the third round of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) and the N24 Qualifiers weekend. A four-driver line-up for the event saw team principal James Breakell joined by New Zealand racers Grant Dalton and Grant Woolford, plus Harley Haughton who had also competed in the first two NLS races to build his experience on the Nordschleife. Rising star Haughton had already shown phenomenal pace in his NLS outings and continued to set the pace for the team across the 24h event, as he wrote his name into the record books as the youngest driver on the 2023 grid and the third youngest ever in the 51-year history of the event. All four drivers completed their mandatory qualifying laps through three sessions across Thursday and Friday, the second of which went into the darkness to give them crucial ‘night’ running ahead of the race. Haughton set top three pace in the Cup3 class from the off and eventually secured them third on the grid. The former Ginetta front-runner started the race and successfully negotiated the busy opening laps to settle into third place and comfortably pull clear of the pack behind. Dalton and Breakell were next up, the latter doing a lengthy stint as darkness fell after an unscheduled pitstop due to a broken wheel after an incident with a passing GT3. After a first race run for Woolford, Haughton was back behind the wheel when the Cayman suffered an unfortunate broken driveshaft. The Breakell Racing pit crew, with support from long-time team partners WS Racing, produced a phenomenal job to get the car back on track in just 20 minutes. The team continued their charge into the early hours of the morning before luck deserted them on the ‘Green Hell’, with debris on circuit piercing the radiator of the Cayman. A sudden loss of coolant led to an engine failure, bringing their race to an immediate conclusion in the 12th hour of the race. James Breakell - Team Principal: “While we’re naturally gutted that the race ended the way it did, due to something completely out of our control, it takes nothing away from what has been a fantastic week at the Nürburgring with brilliant performances from everyone in the team. “We’ve worked hard through the previous Nürburgring races to ensure we headed into the main event with a competitive package in the Cayman, and we were able to put a fast and consistent race car out on circuit for every session through the week. “I’m immensely proud of everyone involved, with great driving from Harley and the two Grants, and brilliant commitment and hard work from the team in the garage. We’ve shown we can be a competitive force on the Nürburgring and plan to be back next year to tackle this great circuit again.”

The Lancashire team started the month with the second round of the 2023 Ginetta GT Championship, with their three drivers heading to Silverstone full of optimism after showing great speed across a successful season opener at Oulton Park a month prior.

It proved to be a dramatic Silverstone weekend (06/07 May), as heavy rainfall across Saturday led to treacherous wet conditions for qualifying and ultimately the cancellation of race one that afternoon due to standing water on the circuit.

Ruben Hage excelled in qualifying to record his first pole position in Ginetta racing, lapping almost four tenths of a second clear of the field. Carl Garnett, a double podium finisher at Oulton Park, finished fifth on the timesheets.

With the second-best times for qualifying setting the grid for race two on Sunday, Hage started second on a now dry circuit. Unfortunately, his quest to challenge for the race win was hampered on lap one when he spun while avoiding an incident ahead at Maggotts.

Dropping back to sixth position, he then produced a stunning recovery drive to second for a maiden podium finish. Garnett meanwhile benefitted from the first lap chaos to storm into second, however damage sustained from contact by another driver left him powerless to drop back to fifth.

Karim Sekkat meanwhile continued his challenge in the GT5 Pro with a hard-fought fourth place finish in class, following a heroic effort by the Breakell team to get him on track for the weekend following an engine failure out of their control during Friday testing.

James Breakell and Ashley Gregory went on a ten hour round trip to pick up a spare engine from the team HQ and then a loaned car from Ginetta’s Blyton Park facility in Lincolnshire, before returning to Silverstone past midnight.

The remaining team members then came in at 3.30am to successfully build up the car, including converting it from Junior to GT5 specification, in time to head out for qualifying just past 11am.

James Breakell:“I have to say a huge thank you to everyone in the team that worked so hard for long hours to get Karim on track for the weekend. I’m immensely proud of everyone involved and the incredible spirit and dedication in our team.

“On track meanwhile, Ruben was truly excellent across the weekend. He did a fantastic job in the wet on Saturday and I’m confident he’d had stormed to victory in the wet had the race taken place, before he put in a phenomenal recovery charge on Sunday.

“Carl bounced back well from struggling in the wet conditions and started the race superbly, so it’s a big shame he received contact out of his control that damaged the car. Considering he was driving a different car on the weekend, Karim did a great job and got some good points on the board.”

Breakell Racing’s maiden season in one-make Porsche racing continued last weekend (20/21 May) as the Sprint Challenge GB headed east to Snetterton in Norfolk, with Reece Somerfield aiming to build upon a promising debut outing at Donington Park last month.

The West Midlands racer enjoyed some good preparation at Snetterton with a pre-event test and then official free practice on Friday, converting the knowledge and experience gained into a competitive qualifying performance to net 12th on the grid for the opening race.

Somerfield produced a stunning opening lap of race one to gain three places to ninth overall, before eventually taking the flag in tenth overall and ninth of the Pro class cars. He went on to finish ninth in class in both of Sunday’s races as well to complete a very strong weekend in the series.

James Breakell:“The Sprint Challenge GB is incredibly competitive this season with a number of drivers holding a lot more experience with the cars, so we’re really happy with the way Reece has settled in to the series. He’s making consistent progress and picked up three more strong race finishes, which he can build upon at Croft next time out.”

An exciting expansion to Breakell Racing’s 2023 Ginetta race programme was announced last week meanwhile, as the team confirmed a return to the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship for the first time since 2021 with rising star Brea Angliss.

The 15-year-old racer is contesting her first full-season of car-racing this year and enjoyed a brilliant start in the Oulton Park season opener back in April, as she fought her way to a great top ten finish in the first race of the campaign.

After a difficult outing at Silverstone earlier this month, Angliss has made the switch to Breakell Racing with the belief they will provide a great environment for her to develop as a driver and showcase her potential in one of the most competitive championships in the UK.

James Breakell:“We’re really happy to be welcoming Brea [Angliss] into the Breakell Racing family. We hope to be able to support her in the early stages of her career, as we have done with other young drivers in the past, and look forward to a successful season together.”

Brea Angliss: “It’s not the easiest decision to move teams during a season, but after some frustrations over the opening two events, we feel it’s the best way forward. Breakell Racing have enjoyed some great results with Ginetta in recent years so I’m confident they’ll give me a quick race car, and I’m looking forward to working with them.”

Breakell Racing continue their 2023 Ginetta season with three events in the next four weeks at Donington Park (27/28 May), Silverstone (02-04 June) and Snetterton (17/18 June), while they return to British Endurance Championship action with their Mercedes-AMG GT4 at Oulton Park this Saturday (27 May). The images included are from SWOOSH Motorsport Communications (Nürburgring), Jakob Ebrey Photography (Ginetta) and Porsche GB (Sprint Challenge GB).

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