A sunny Silverstone played host to a thrilling three-hour round of the 2012 Avon Tyres British GT Championship today, and it was United Autosports' Charles Bateman and Matt Bell who took their second victory in three races, as pole sitters Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin could only finish seventh. Team WFR clinched the GT4 Championship after a seventh class win for Jody Fannin and Warren Hughes ahead of Optimum Motorsports’ Lee Mowle and Gary Simms.
Bateman, starting fifth made the most of a first corner altercation between Team WFR’s Riki Christodoulou and Beechdean Motorsport’s Andrew Howard and was up to third at the end of lap one.
After chasing the tails of Christodoulou and the leading Cameron, Bateman soon got reeled in and overcome by the RJN Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 of Alex Buncombe on the outside at Brooklands; at the front,Christodoulou passed Cameron before the Mtech driver fell into the clutches of first Buncombe, then Bateman.
Championship leader going into this weekend, David Ashburn missed the pit lane exit and started from the pit lane, the Serbian driver fought back through the pack to get up to the tail-end of the GT3 field; with Cameron moving down the order, it was advantage RJN.
Elsewhere, series returnees Godfrey and David Jones were battling through the field and by lap twelve they were up to fourth, twelve places up on their grid position. Moving down the order were Cyber Racing’s Phil Dryburgh (Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3) with a spin, Daniele Perfetti (Motorbase Porsche 997 GT3 R) and Cameron who continued to struggle with his Ferrari 458.
Following a successful warm-up the Jota Sport Mazda team started from the pit lane and were soon second in class. No sooner had this happened, the little MX-5 GT4 picked up one of two punctures that would dog its race. Eventually, Jota retired the car with a number of issues, despite an impressive turn of pace that could only be rivalled by the classleader, the Team WFR car.
For a short period, Team WFR led both GT3 and GT4, and Christodoulou looked strong, some nine seconds ahead of the chasing Buncombe as the pit stops began to be taken. While Beechdean’s Aston Martin had already pitted with braking issues, it was the Aston Martin of Cyber Racingthat began the raft of planned stops when it pitted from eighth. Ashburn pitted at the same time from sixteenth, and the Apex Motorsport McLaren of reigning champions Jim and Glynn Geddie duly picked up places.
Motorbase drivers Perfetti and Parish pitted together, but the pair both overshot their pit boxes, losing precious time in the pit stops. GT4 drivers Mike Kurton (Complete Racing Aston Martin) and Dominic Evans (Century Motorsport Ginetta) pitted too, Evans almost being collected by Buncombe as the Nissan driver pitted from second place.
Here began an important chapter of the race, as the pro drivers began to push on, in doing so numerous drivers exceeded the track limits of the 3.66 mile Silverstone circuit and incurred first warnings and then five second stop-go penalties. This aided the efforts of the Team LNT entry. With Ginetta Chairman, Lawrence Tomlinson first at the wheel and theMike Simpson, the pair cemented their position in the top-six.
Early leaders Riki Christodoulou and JodyFannin dropped down the order and would struggle to find their earlier form as their Team WFR Ginetta had first a gear change issue and then a braking issue, the pair would eventually finish fourteenth, a lap down on the Speedworks Motorsports Corvette Z06r, which again showed glimpses of promise.
Apex Motorsport, a brief leader of the race past the halfway mark made their second mandatory stop, but it was too short and the team received a sixteen second pit stop penalty, which Jim Geddie duly took. Apex’s Debut with McLaren would yield a strong fifth place finish. It was here that United Autosports took over the lead of the race and would edge towards victory.
With the third mandatory pit stops out of the way, the order changed again, Ecurie Ecosse led while United Autosports pitted, and Hughes and Fannin returned to the front of GT4 after their final stop of the weekend, two laps their margin over the rapid Optimum G50 of Lee Mowle and Gary Simms.
Irishman, Griffin excelled in his first stint moving the MTECH Ferrari back up to second from seventh, but his second stint was more difficult and loose bodywork hindered his opportunity to make a case for a podium, enabling Motorbase’s Caine, Team LNT’s Simpson and Ecurie Ecosse’s Ollie Hancock to move ahead. Griffin and Cameron would eventually finish seventh, enough to see the pair take over the lead of the GT3 Championship by half a point.
With MTECH out of the equation and Ashburn retired with an ECU issue on his Porsche, RJN looked set to score well. Birthday boy, Jann Mardenborough and Buncombe struggled with a braking issue but hindered their chances with drive through infringements too; the RJN duo picked up valuable points for eighth, but remain third in the Championship.
While they challenged Bell and Bateman hard for victory, McCaig and Hancock had to ease off in the remaining laps as the BMW Z4 had an oil leak, which resulted in several plumes of smoke and United Autosports’ victory of margin didn’t reflect the efforts of theBarwell-prepared Ecurie Ecosse challenger.
Fourteen seconds behind Hancock at the finish was Caine, the Motorbase star pushed hard to the finish by Simpson’s LNT Ginetta, after starting from a lowly eleventh; clearly not a reflection of the car’s pace as the #11 Motorbase challenger was quickest in morning warm-up too.
Rounding out the top-ten were winners last time out, Steve Tandy and Joe Osborne (Trackspeed) in ninth and the Rhino’s Leipert Lamborghini of Marco Attard and Marcel Leipert; the pair avoided the attentions of the race director and Attard benefited from a longer run in the LP600+ machine.
APO Sport’s James May and Alex Osborne battled hard throughout the race, and a third place just reward for their efforts over the course of the weekend. Zoe Wenham cemented her second place in the GT4 standings with fourth place, and Complete Racing finished its thirdrace in a row since joining the series.
After showing good pace in qualifying, FFCorse’s Gary Eastwood and Ryan Hooker had a good race with the Wessex prepared Audi R8 LMS until its retirement and then challenged the faltering Team WFR GT3 while keeping ahead of the rapid WFR G50 GT4, ultimately finishing seventeenth.
Reliability was strong in the race with just five retirees, Jordan Witt’s Chevron, Optimum Motorsport’s G55, FF Corse’s F430, Wessex’s Audi and series stalwarts, Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox in their Ferrari 430 Scuderia, now run by JMH.
With just nine and a half points separating eight drivers at the top of the GT3 points table, all is very much to play for as the series heads for its final round at Donington Park on the weekend of the 29/30 September in three weeks time.
Matt Bell, United Autosports McLaren MP4-12c (First in GT3):
“It was a pretty tough race for us as the car wasn’t handling as we expected it to or how we left it on Saturday afternoon. The temperature played a part in that and there was something broken on therear of the car too that we need to investigate later; it was a bit of a handful. Today was down to great work by Charles in the Am section, he gave me a good lead and I just had to go out there and maintain it. We’re looking forward to Donington now.”
Charles Bateman, United Autosports McLaren MP4-12c (First in GT3):
“Much the same as what Matt said really. We kept our driving clean and in between the two white lines. It was a pretty easy race I guess.”
Warren Hughes, Team WFR Ginetta G50 GT4 (First in GT4):
“We had a pretty simple race, which given it was a three-hour race is quite an achievement really. The strategy went to plan and we had no hiccups in the pitlane, and the team did a great job; it was a nice way to win the championship with a win. I got a hit early on which was unnecessary, and the GT3 tail end held me up to start with, they were really slow away, but we’ve had good pace all weekend and we didn’t need to push unnecessarily. The car was faultless and it was important to win the title as if I hadn’t won it, it wouldn’t have reflected well on me, but I’m most satisfied by what it will hopefully mean and do for Jody’s future. I’ve really enjoyed this year with Jody, and I’d love to have a crack in a really good GT3 car next year.”
Jody Fannin, Team WFR Ginetta G50 GT4 (First in GT4):
“It went to plan today, the team did everything right; Warren built up a good lead and we didn’t get any warnings or drive throughs and we ended up winning by two laps, a perfect race for us. I wanted to move on into endurance racing any my previous two years have beensprint racing, so this means a lot and having Warren alongside me has helped me no end. It’s great to win it with a round to spare, I don’t think we could’ve asked for a better year.”
Full times from the Silverstone race are available here: http://bit.ly/NhlkwG
Championship points after round six:
1. Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin MTECH 113pts
2. Alasdair McCaig Ecurie Ecosse 112.5pts
3. Jann Mardenborough/Alex Buncombe RJN Motorsport 108.5pts
4. David Ashburn Trackspeed 104.5pts
5. Danielle Perfetti/Michael Caine Motorbase 103.5pts
6. Charles Bateman/Matt Bell United Autosports 83.5pts
7. Steve Tandy/Joe Osborne Trackspeed 81.5pts
8. Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam Beechdean 75pts
9. Oliver Bryant Ecurie Ecosse 69.5pts
10. Richard Westbrook Trackspeed 64pts
1. Jody Fannin/Warren Hughes Team WFR 224.5pts - CHAMPIONS
2. Zoe Wenham Century Motorsport 145.5pts
3. Dominic Evans Century Motorsport 118.5pts
4. James May/Alex Osborne APO Sport 104.5pts
Full points: http://bit.ly/Mi5AsA
Current Championship Standings: http://www.britishgt.com/pointsn.php
About the Avon Tyres British GT Championship:
The 2012 Avon Tyres British GT championship showcases the most prestigious and stylish sportscar grid of any national motorsport championship. The 2012 season will visit six UK venues with one international event held at Germany's infamous Nürburgring GP circuit, during the N24 weekend.
For further information please visit: http://www.britishgt.com Press images of the championship can be downloaded from: http://www.britishgt.com/gallery.php
For more information about WP Motorsport, please contact us today.