Motorsport

Forces Drivers Compete In Six-Hour Birkett Relay At Silverstone

The race at the home of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix was the first and last race of the season for the forces teams.

Military motorsport drivers have competed in the six-hour Birkett Relay race at Silverstone.

Sixty-nine cars were on the track on Saturday for the UK's largest annual motor race.

Five military teams were involved in total – two from the Army, two from the Air Force and one from the Royal Navy/Royal Marines.

Like all sports, the forces motorsport communities have had their 2020 season disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, after getting the green light to race last month by authorities, their cars were ready to go at the Northamptonshire track.

The RAF's two teams were named Spitfire and Hurricane in honour of the Battle of Britain's 80th anniversary.

They had also created their own 'service bubble' so that work could be done on both cars away from the trackside garages.

RAF's Director of Motorsport, Flight Sergeant Chris Slater, said: "We're running it very different to how we would run it in the past.

The RAF teams' "bubble" where they could work on both of their cars away from the trackside garages.

"Normally, we'd all be piled into the garage and we'd be operating and engineering in the same place.

"We're about a quarter of a mile away from the pit lane and we've put extra kit to give better situational awareness in the garage."

There were a number of debutants on the Birkett grid this year, including Sergeant Dave Russell.

The Air Force driver was in a BMW that has raced at Silverstone before. He said: "We've learnt to operate in a different way.

"We've had to purchase some new equipment to allow us to do things in a different way.

"Despite all of that, we're still able to take part in this event due to the tremendous efforts of various members of our team to get us in this position.

"It's important that we've done it in a safe manner which is the only reason why we're here."

Heavy rain disrupted the race but smart driving meant the safety car wasn't called out.

At the end of the race, it was tight between the forces teams but it was the RAF's Spitfire that edged out an Army team to take the military's bragging rights.