Nürburgring, Germany, 19 May 2012 - Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin defied the odds and basked in the glory of victory at the Nürburgring today after a hard fought win in their MTECH Ferrari 458 against a strong challenge from the numerous Porsches looking to win on home soil. Sailesh Bolisetti and Phil Glew similarly worked hard for their maiden GT4 win together in the Lotus Sport UK Evora GT4.
After yesterday’s thrilling race on the GP circuit, this morning’s race had a lot to live it up to, but it delivered one of the best races in recent years as a multi-marque battle played out in front of a huge crowd here for the 24 hours of Nürburgring.
Leading from pole was Motorbase’s Nick Tandy, but along side him into turn two were Trackspeed pair, Richard Westbrook, and Joe Osborne who made an audacious move up the inside of those ahead of him into turn one. As the field shuffled through the opening set of corners, Alex Buncombe (RJN Motorsport Nissan GT-R), and Godfrey Jones (Preci-Spark Mercedes AMG SLS) were the other drivers making up places.
With Tandy now in his stride, a gap began to grow between the leader and second placed, Westbrook. Similarly, Westbrook created a three second cushion between himself and Osborne.
Warren Hughes began as he left off in yesterday’s race, pulling clear of the field and creating a lead over new sparring partner Glew. However, today wouldn’t run to the script Hughes’ Team WFR crew hoped and the experienced sportscar driver slipped back to third in class when Glew, and then Alex Osborne (APO Sport Ginetta G50) jumped Hughes into turn one on lap two.
Back in GT3, Michael Caine, Tandy’s team-mate at Motorbase was on a march through the field; in six laps Caine was up to third, having dropped to fifth on the first lap. Osborne, having used his tyres hard in the opening laps dropped back off Caine and would later fall prey to yesterday’s winner, Jonny Adam in the Beechdean Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
Embroiled in a three-car Ginetta battle was Colin White (CWS 4X4 Ginetta G55). The GTC entrant left Osborne and Hughes to chase Glew and fight their GT4 fight, conserving tyres and safe in the knowledge his team-mate, Jake Rattenbury could make light of the opposition at the hand over.
With Osborne still struggling, Adam seized his opportunity into turn one, but a bold move by Griffin saw the drivers go three abreast into turn two. All drivers showed respect and all came out the other side, however Osborne went from fourth to six in one move, but Griffin, ever the opportunist, was now fourth and immediately chasing after Caine.
With Westbrook pushing him all the way, Tandy had no break; the Motorbase driverthrowing his car across the kerbs at the chicanes, getting airborne at one point in his pursuit of a suitable lead to hand to co-driver Steve Parish.
Moving through the field like a knife through butter was Allan Simonsen, who in four laps displaced Tim Harvey (Trackspeed) and Osborne and was pushing Adam for fifth.
Enjoying his first British GT race start was young Brit, Osborne in the GT4 Ginetta. Lapafter lap he chased Glew’s Lotus until Hughes got the better of him before the pit stops.
Caine was the first of the leaders to pit, but his time adjustment for finishing second yesterday meant his energetic team-mate Danielle Perfetti rejoined in fifteenth place. Four laps later, Perfetti was fifth; a combination of other drivers pitting, and lap times that were on average a second a lap quicker than hisrivals enabling Perfetti to maximise his progress.
With Tandy out of the car, Parish was now eighth. Elsewhere, Marcel Leipert in his Lamborghini LP600+ was progressing, as was Aaron Scott in the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458, who headed the Jones’ SLS. Scott eventually got past the Ecurie Ecosse BMW he’d stalked since the start. Westbrook left it late to pit, and used the time to post the second fastest lap of the race, a blistering 1:43.969. Advantage Trackspeed.
Not so fortunate in the pit stops were GT4 points leaders, Warren Hughes and Jody Fannin. The Team WFR duo succumbed to technical difficulties, which were cited as a broken differential and an oil leak. The pair wouldn’t re-join the race. Glew handed over to Bolisetti, who was racing on the only track he’d had prior experience of. Bolisetti pushed hard and kept ahead of those behind him, but Century’s Zoe Wenham was closing in and by lap 23 was second in class.
Cameron was now reeling in Ashburn and Parish at an alarming rate of two seconds per lap and on lap 24, the Ferrari driver breezed past Parish; four laps later he was leading. Shortly after this Adam in the Aston Martin pitted for an unscheduled stop, a drive through penalty for crossing the solid white line at pit exit. This relegated Adam from fifth to tenth.
Progressing through the feisty field was Ecurie Ecosse’s Alasdair McCaig. The BMW Z4 driver got ahead of Trackspeed duo Steve Tandy and Jon Minshaw, eventually finishing 0.6 seconds off Hector Lester in the Rosso Verde 458 and with the Jones’ SLS a little over second behind him.
Adam’s fightback from tenth was stellar; the Beechdean driver recovering to take seventh at the flag, narrowly ahead of Lester’s Ferrari.
United Autosports had a quieter race than yesterday. Starting from eleventh, Bell pushed with little success, holding station until the pit stops. When Bateman took over in the car, his experience showed and he picked off the struggling trio of Lester, Tandy and Minshaw, and fought hard with the rapid Mardenborough, succumbing to the GT Academy Winner on lap 29.
Bateman finished sixth at the flag, and Mardenborough topped off a solid weekend with fifth from tenth on the grid.
With little over 10 minutes left on the clock, GT4 was Bolisetti’s to lose. The Indian driver didn’t fail to deliver, finishing some 27 seconds ahead of Wenham, who in turn comfortably had the beating of Nova Race duo, Cassera and Piero Foglio. Mazda’s second race saw Jota Sport record another finish in an all-new car, albeit a distant fourth in class.
Finishing his second race in a row, Rattenbury uncorked the potential of the GTC version of the G55 and finished over 20 seconds ahead of Bolisetti’s Lotus, and ten seconds shy of the visiting JB Motorsport Audi R8 LMS.
The final two laps of race two were arguably the best of the championship in a long time. Perfetti, having now caught Ashburn was determined to pass the 2010 driversChampion. Ashburn however, was having none of it. Nose to tail doesn’t quite describe the proximity of the two Porsches who were fighting for the honour of not just runner-up, but top Porsche finisher in Germany.
Ashburn took second with Perfetti’s Porsche nailed to his bumper, but not before both drifted on opposite lock out of the final chicane, and eye watering sight for the 250,000 strong crowd.
After the excitement of the Nürburgring, the Championship heads to Corby’s Rocking Motor Speedway in three weeks on the weekend of the 9/10 June, where drivers will partake in a two-hour endurance race.
Matt Griffin, MTECH (1st in GT3):
“It was a great race. After FP1 and 2, we just didn’t think we’d have any chance of beating the Porsches round here because they’ve been so strong. We picked a conservative strategy in setup, but while it gave us a slower single lap pace, it was kinder to the tyres and made us very strong at the end of the race. We’re absolutely over the moon.”
Duncan Cameron, MTECH (1st in GT3):
“That was fantastic, I didn’t really know where I was til the end. I was catching and passing, catching and passing, I sat still, made a gap, but I didn’t want to know where we were. I got on the radio at the end and said, ‘we won then?’ We’ve been consistent all weekend, and our strategy gave us the edge over the Porsches which were quicker over a lap.”
Phil Glew, Lotus Sport UK (First in GT4):
“It was fun race. Hughes was struggling for pace early on, but I pounced early and I had a great battle with Osborne as he got through on Hughes with me. I used to race with Alex in Clios and we had a great battle. I eventually broke him, he was using his tyres hard, I’m not sure if that is what caused a mistake, but Hughes was still there, so it wasn’t easy, but I managed to pull away. Its great having quality drivers in the GT4 championship, it makes the racing a lot enjoyable.”
Sailesh Bolisetto, Lotus Sport UK (First in GT4):
“I thought it was going to be tough, Phil had his work cut out keeping the guys behindhim, but I had about 45 seconds gap to the next guy and I managed to keep agood margin. Phil did a great job and I’m thrilled to win my first British GT race.”
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