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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Charlotte Birch returns to The ROWE Britcar Trophy Championship at Donington Park

Charlotte Birch showed excellent speed on her comeback to multi-class endurance racing as she enjoyed a positive weekend in The ROWE Britcar Trophy Championship at Donington Park. Overcoming a number of challenges in the pair of fifty-minute races, Birch was third and second among the full-season Class 3 entries.

Charlotte Birch, Vinna Sport Ginetta, The ROWE Britcar Trophy Championship, 2023 Donington Park
Photo credits: Vinna Sport

Charlotte Birch enjoyed a positive weekend in The ROWE Britcar Trophy Championship at Donington Park. Teaming up with Loui Hounsell in a Vinna Sport prepared Ginetta G40, the duo competed in the Class 3 invitational class and secured victory in both races. Finishing third in race one and second in race two among the full-season Class 3 entries, it was a successful return to the championship for Charlotte who overcame a number of challenges in a pair of fifty-minute races.

Charlotte arrived at Donington Park fresh off her successful debut meeting in the Track Attack Racing Club where she claimed a pair of victories at Silverstone. Once again driving the Ginetta G40, the step into The ROWE Britcar Trophy Championship would see her return to multi-class endurance racing alongside newcomer Loui Hounsell.

Like Charlotte, Loui began his car racing career in the Junior Saloon Car Championship and has most recently competed in the Milltek Sport Civic Cup. Hounsell was crowned vice-champion of the Production Class in 2022 and has since taken a step up to the Cup Class where he has been a consistent top-10 contender this season.

After the duo took to the track on Friday for wet weather testing, conditions were equally difficult for Sunday morning’s qualifying session with extremely low track temperatures at Donington. Although the track was predominantly dry, finding a rhythm in a twenty-minute session while cycling through both drivers was a challenge for the Vinna Sport teammates.

Nonetheless, both Charlotte and Loui did a great job in a red-flag interrupted session to qualify fourth in Class 3 overall, just over one second away from pole position.

Track conditions were dry for race one with Charlotte taking the start of the race. Holding her ground at the conclusion of lap one, Birch remained fourth in Class 3 while gaining two overall positions on lap two as the safety car was deployed. As racing resumed, the Vinna Sport driver maintained a consistent pace and looked to challenge the drivers ahead.

By lap seven, Charlotte was lapping faster than the team’s best time in qualifying and this allowed her to stay in close contact with her fellow Class 3 rivals. A second safety car on lap nine coincided with Birch visiting the pits, however the pit window had not yet opened which led to the car falling off the lead lap.

The following lap saw Charlotte re-enter the pits and hand over to Loui for his first stint The ROWE Britcar Trophy Championship. Once the safety car had been withdrawn, Hounsell’s pace was encouraging and similar to that of Birch. A third safety car offered hope for Vinna Sport to close the gap to the drivers ahead, however the interruption was brief and Loui remained just over 30 seconds behind the Mauger Motorsport Honda Civic. Closing the race superbly with a succession of fastest laps, a late issue for their rivals saw Vinna Sport finish third overall in Class 3, while securing the Class 3 Invitational victory.

Loui took the start of race two from 14th overall and third in Class 3 following the result of race one. Battling with a number of drivers from the Clio Class in the early stages, Hounsell held his own in his debut weekend driving rear-wheel-drive machinery. His progress was halted when a technical issue brought the car into the pits first on lap four and then on lap seven, before Loui rejoined and then handed over to Charlotte a couple of laps in arrears.

Following good work by Vinna Sport in the pit stop, Charlotte took charge of the Ginetta G40 following a safety car and had twenty minutes to gain further experience. Birch’s lap times were extremely competitive and on lap 17, she turned her fastest lap of the entire weekend. Her efforts were rewarded two laps later where she moved into second position in the overall Class 3 classification.

Once again securing the Class 3 Invitational honours, a runner-up result in Class 3 overall rounded-off a successful return to The ROWE Britcar Trophy Championship.

Charlotte showed excellent speed on her comeback to multi-class endurance racing and formed a great partnership with Loui Hounsell.

The pair competed well against experienced Class 3 rivals and although they had to overcome issues during the races, Charlotte and Loui achieved excellent results in a highly competitive championship. Birch’s performances to end the season will stand her in good stead as she aims to put together a full-season racing programme in 2024.



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