Snows BMW M3 GTR Reigns in the Rain thanks to Atkins Motorsport

Snows BMW and Atkins Motorsport are once again partnering in the 2016 Britcar Endurance Championship.

Lee Atkins originally received Snows support in 2008, when he campaigned a BMW Z4M in the GT Cup Series. He scored nine wins from ten race starts with ten pole positions and fastest laps, making him the most successful driver of the series.

The BMW Z4M back in 2008

For 2016, Lee sits behind the wheel of another fantastically designed BMW product, a purpose built M3 GTR specifically crafted for the rigours of endurance racing. He will share the car in races of two, three, and four hour duration with his co-driver, Sam Allpass, an experienced racer with success in UK and European long distance races.

Getting ready to race: the Snows-sponsored BMW M3

The car boasts 420 bhp, in a lightened body shell built with carbon fibre panels, a special sequential gearbox with paddle-shift system, and suspension based on that used in the World Touring Car Championship BMW race cars. This package should make it extremely competitive in the class for touring and GT’s, with both Lee and Sam confident of a good performance. To discover more about the BMW M3 at Snows BMW, please click here.

One of the key issues of endurance racing is keeping the drivers cool and preventing heat exhaustion. Here, a real gold heat shield protects the drivers from the heat of the engine.

The championship kicked off at Silverstone over the Easter weekend, on Saturday 26th March, in what was intended to be a two hour marathon around the venue of the British Grand Prix. Sadly, after a sunny Friday, the weather looked to deteriorate and the sky was overcast as the BMW M3 warmed up at its debut event. Nonetheless, both Lee and Sam were hopeful of a good result, having tested the car on the full Grand Prix circuit just a few weeks ago in both wet and dry conditions.

As forecast, it began to drizzle during qualifying and the decision was made to use grooved wet tyres in common with the majority of the other teams. This was later changed to slick tyres, proving to be an excellent decision as the car ended up 2nd in class for the race that afternoon.

The start time of the two hour endurance race was scheduled for 3.55 pm with the heavy rain arriving at 4.00 pm according to the forecast. As the faster driver in the team, it was decided that Lee would start the race, handing over to Sam approximately one hour later. 

Geoff Steel Racing, responsible for engineering the car at the circuit, had fitted the wet tyres with the suspension adjusted to a full ‘wet set up’. At the start, conditions quickly deteriorated with plumes of spray all but making the cars indistinguishable from one another, but Lee held station at 2nd in class believing that is was not worth challenging the lead car (another M3 GTR) in the early stages of the race.

At the one hour mark, Lee was called in for re-fuelling and a handover to Sam, with the lead car coming into the pit stop shortly after. The rain was now falling without relief, and as the lap times increased Sam was reeling in the lead car at some 4 seconds a lap: the other team’s second driver was clearly much slower than their first. The timing screens in the pit garages showed a change of lead in the class as our rivals pitted again and Sam was now 3.6 seconds to the good.

Atkins Motorsport assumed the opposition had spun off in the worsening conditions and had had to pit to check for damage. Shortly after, the race was stopped and the results declared because of the weather conditions which were now making it too dangerous for the drivers to continue.

Atkins Motorsport were overjoyed to bring home a win on their debut and the Snows BMW M3 GTR looked splendid in its company branding with the trophies adorning the car after the podium ceremony. We look forward to further success!

The winning BMW M3 thanks to Atkins Motorsport

Other races will take place at Donington; Croft; Thruxton (a local circuit for Snows BMW Portsmouth); Oulton Park; and Brand’s Hatch, with an overseas round at the iconic Spa Francorchamps in Belgium. Lee and Sam are looking forward to the next round which will either be at Snetterton on 8th May or Donington on 4th June, subject to the drivers’ business and family commitments. Stay tuned for more details!

JUNE UPDATE: Atkins Motorsport will now be at Thruxton circuit on both Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd July. Good luck!

For more information about how Snows BMW could help you find your ideal car, please visit Snows BMW at Portsmouth or on the Isle of Wight, or take a look at our range of vehicles here.

Snows BMW prides itself on its reputation and dedication to delivering excellent customer service, and is rewarded by the fact that over half of its business comes from returning customers. Atkins Motorsport demonstrates that with Snows BMW, driving becomes an experience rather than a chore.

Author: Charlotte Saunders

Posted on 07/04/2016 by Snows in BMW, with no comments