Ollie Bryant and Darren Turner claimed honours in the RAC Automobile Club TT Celebration race that wasn’t lacking for drama.
GT star Turner blasted off the line in the Bryant family’s AC Cobra, streaking into the distance while the similar car of pole-man Bill Shepherd gave chase. Fellow front-row starter Jenson Button, also in a Cobra, had a poor start, having shifted from first to fourth gear off the line which saw him tumble down to ninth by Madgwick.
Turner’s lead after two laps stood at four seconds, but it was annulled five minutes into the one-hour running order by a safety car period to recover Rupert Clevely’s stricken Jaguar E-type. On the restart, Button got the hammer down and picked off his rivals one by one, including Martin Brundle’s Cobra on the outside of St. Mary’s and Gregor Fisken’s Cobra at Madgwick. He was up to third place by quarter distance. Shepherd stopped after 21 minutes to hand over to superstar allrounder Romain Dumas. Turner stopped simultaneously to swap seats with Ollie Bryant, Button assuming the lead before pitting 24 minutes in to hand over to his lifelong friend, Alex Buncombe.
Their pale blue Cobra emerged in third place amid another safety car period, the TVR Griffith 400 of Mike Whittaker and Mike Jordan having had a costly off-course excursion. On the restart, Buncombe was closing in on Bryant only to tag a backmarker which cost him time. The safety car came out again with 25 mins to run after Sam Hancock’s Cobra, as started by Fisken, was punted off into retirement at St. Mary’s, the order being bunched up once again.
Seven minutes later, racing resumed in anger, Dumas getting a slight jump on Bryant with Buncombe losing out to the Lister-Jaguar Coupe of Emanuele Pirro that was started by Frederic Wakeman. Sadly, the Buncombe/Button car had developed a persistent misfire and was retired shortly thereafter. Pirro could not make inroads on the lead duo, though, who battled royally in the closing stages. However, the complexion of the race changed with four minutes left to run after Dumas was given a 21-second penalty for a driver change infringement.
Dumas crossed the line first on the road, but he and Shepherd were demoted to fourth once the time penalty was taken into account. Bryant and Turner claimed the win, Pirro and Wakeman placing second with Shaun Lynn and former touring car star Andy Priaux being promoted to third. Turner, for his part, didn’t have time to receive his laurels – he had a flight to catch.