Double Porsche Victory and a Podium for Trackspeed in a Dramatic FIA GT3 Event
Trackspeed Racing Continue to Dominate The Porsche Class and Score First Podium of Their FIA GT3 Season
The third and fourth rounds of the FIA GT3 Championship saw Trackspeed Racing travel to the new street circuit venue of Bucharest in Romania. Trackspeed Racing were pleased to come away as double winners of the Porsche class after securing their first pole position and podiumk finish of the year with the bonus of coming home with little damage in an event which often reverted to carnage.
Once again Trackspeed fielded three Porsches.
In the #4 car David Ashburn teamed up for his first FIA GT3 race of the year with Ryan Hooker. In the #5 car Richard Williams was joined by James Pickford. Whilst in the #6 car, Trackspeed welcomed Irish Formula Three ace Ronayne O'Mohany and French Caterham specialist Luc Paillard.
With no-one having the advantage of knowing this new street circuit all the teams were eager to get on track for Friday's practice sessions. The challenge of the unknown was heightened with changeable weather but as expected the tight street circuit worked to the Porsches' advantage.
This was particularly evident when Richard Williams read the conditions of Qualifying One perfectly to secure Trackspeed's first pole position of the season. Luc Paillard made an impressive run on the damp track to place the #6 car in 6th on the grid whilst David Ashburn also put in an assured drive to 15th.
Within the short break to Qualifying Two the track dried considerably but the session was consistently interrupted by red flag periods. However, the Trackspeed Porsches stayed out of trouble with James Pickford storming ahead, confirming that his partnership with Richard Williams in #5 was set to be rapid. James secured 5th on the grid with Ryan Hooker in 20th and Ronayne O'Mahony in 24th in what proved to be a bitty session of stops and starts.
Qualifying took its toll on the entry numbers with a number of cars sustaining damage that would see them out for the weekend. "It's a real driver's circuit" commented Ryan Hooker afterwards, "but very bumpy with little or no room for error. Quite a challenge."
Race One saw Richard Williams take the lead from pole position but the race was soon to be disrupted for the first of two safety car periods as once again incidents interrupted proceedings. Further disruption came in the unusual form of a dog wandering onto the track. Thankfully both beast and racers came away unscathed from the startling intrusion.
With the changeovers James took over #5 and slotted into second place soon moving into the lead when the peculiarities of the track made themselves present again. A tyre wall had moved after being hit during an incident and as James recalled afterwards "I came round and all of a sudden there was a different corner there than from the last lap!" James clipped the 'mobile corner' causing a puncture which required an extra pitstop though thankfully he was able to rejoin the race and put in a focused drive to work back up the ranking to finally finish in 11th position, 3rd Porsche home though a much higher finished had surely been on the cards.
The honour of first Porsche home went to Trackspeed team-mates David Ashburn and Ryan Hooker who also earned their first overall Championship points of their year after finishing in 8th having skilfully managed to avoid the dramas besetting so many others and a well read strategy. Luc Paillard and Ronayne O'Mahony came home in 19th, after suffering a minor spin in the opening stint of the race.
On Sunday, Race Two was further plagued by incidents though this time extra troubles weren't caused by canines but the more constant disruption of rain which in fairness worked to the Porsches advantage as they proved more nimble than others in the wet conditions.
Starting from 4th on the grid James Pickford soon had #5 into 2nd place whilst Ryan Hooker was also making up several places from his 20th start position and Ronan O'Mahony made steady progress in difficult conditions.
The wet weather and yet another safety car period meant after the driver changeovers even the drivers fresh out of the car had difficulty actually knowing who was where!
James Pickford praised his team-mate Richard Williams for a storming drive in the second half of the race to bring the car home second overall, Trackspeed's first podium of the year, and the honour of leading Porsche. Not far behind came team owner David Ashburn in #4 who had picked off his competitors in a controlled display to finish just shy of the podium in 4th overall. Luc Paillard and Ronayne O'Mahony continued to impress in a car and circuit new to them both by avoiding the pitfalls and finishing in a respectable 18th to ensure Trackspeed's 2007 FIA GT3 finishing record remains at an enviable 100%.
Indeed all the drivers concurred that to come home from a race that had claimed so many victims with only the most minor of damage was possibly the greatest achievement of the weekend and in probability they believe they may be the only team to do so!
With a pole, a podium and Porsche honours in their pocket Trackspeed now head to Monza in a month's time for the next round of the FIA GT3. A circuit far removed from the Bucharest street circuit, Monza may return to highlighting the aerodynamic disadvantage of the Porsche but with the hope of favourable equalisation the team are sure to carry the momentum of a successful, if not at times strange, Romanian outing.