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Youngest driver in 24hr at Silverstone GP circuit


In May 2022 I was the youngest driver to compete in the BRSCC Citroen C1 Endurance 24hr race on the full Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone, and became the youngest driver outside of the Americas to start a 24 hour motor race.

I completed just over 7hrs of driving across 4 stints, bringing the car across the finish line at 6pm on Sunday. My fastest lap time was 3:04:897 during that final stint.

It’s an experience I’ll never forget, and I’m very grateful to my sponsors and supporters for getting me on the grid.

Making it to Silverstone in time to qualify the car was my first challenge; my Mandarin GCSE exam ran late that afternoon, meaning an anxious dash up the motorway to make it for 7pm or risk our car being excluded from the whole event.

I arrived at the circuit gates at 6:57pm.

Huge thanks have to go to the C1 Racing Club and the BRSCC officials for accommodating my last minute arrival – including a personal briefing at Race Control from the Clerk of the Course – as well as to BPC Tuning for making sure the car was prepped and ready to go.

Qualifying was the first time I’d driven the Silverstone circuit apart from on the sim – it looked SO different! On my first lap I even thought I was lost after coming through Becketts before making my way into Chapel and onto the Hangar Straight. My fastest lap time in that session was about 3:11.

Night practice was next, and first time I had driven in the dark.  The Citroen C1 cars had additional spotlights wired into the high beam circuit which made visibility better, and most had also added LED lights to make them more identifiable in the dark and really added to the special atmosphere of the event.

The 24hr Race

An incredible 61 Citroen C1s took the rolling start at 6pm, with our car 537 driven by Matty Street for the first stint.

I was next up at about 9pm. That first stint was surprisingly calming; driving into the night, the commentator’s voices on the car radio acting almost as white noise as I drove the circuit, only seeing what was in my headlights in front of me. I could really think and experience each action I took on track, each pass calculated. Nothing felt out of control, even whilst going four-wide into Copse.

It was a unique state of being, moving fast and competing hard with drivers around, pushing every lap, while simultaneously being completely at one with the car. There is no other feeling like it.

Overnight there were challenges; the car was bruised and battered when it came into the pits for the driver change for my next stint, which meant driving into the sunrise at 5am.

Mine went without incident, but mid-morning during Dan Smith’s stint one of the steel wheels failed into Brooklands, which meant recovery back to the garage for repairs.  From then on the steering wheel was centred at 90 degrees to where it usually would be, but the car was still driveable and Will Hendrix re-joined the race.

Unfortunately in Dan’s next stint there were more problems, and the car was back in the garage for a good couple of hours to replace the clutch. 

The legends at BPC Tuning pulled out all the stops to get everything changed so that I could finish the race, and I am so grateful for their hard work after such a long night of non-stop work as they were running both our car 537 and Team Trojan in the event.

We deliberately waited until there was only 30 minutes or so left of the race until I went out again, just in case the car couldn’t make it as the last thing we wanted was to break down with only a few laps to go to the end.

They told me to take it easy, and in that final half an hour I was able to just appreciate the whole experience.

At just 16 years of age, I was about to cross the line at Silverstone and complete a 24-hour race. As I took the chequered flag to finish the race, I was overwhelmed with joy, absolutely ecstatic about the accomplishment that I had just achieved.

My gratitude to everyone who helped me be in that position could not be greater, especially to my mum.

Thank you to BPC Tuning, my family and everyone else that made it possible to complete that record-breaking drive.

James Reilly c1 24hr silverstone

ClubSport Trophy

As I hadn’t been able to participate in the Friday practice sessions due to my GCSE exams, the team had suggested that I ran car 437 (another of their Citroen C1s) in the multi-class short endurance ClubSport Trophy race on the Saturday for some extra time on track.

Qualifying was in the morning and unfortunately I only got about 4 laps in – my fastest at 3:09:137 – before the fuel pump failed at Maggots and I had to be recovered. The team then worked hard to make sure the car was ready for the afternoon race.

In the race my lap times improved again, with 3:08:375 my fastest.  There was also an opportunity to practice safety car restarts with other, much faster vehicles around me.


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