Disappointing End to Excellent Season for Sugden
The final race of the 2005 FIA GT championship in Bahrain on Friday did not bring the fairy tale end to Tim Sugden's season that he hoped for as a small fluid leak on lap 19 of the 90 lap race lost them 4 laps and caused a 5th place finish.
After the pit crew had made the repair Sugden was able to make up places before handing the car back to Emmanuel Collard at the second stop and both drivers lapped within tenths of the lead car but they were unable to make it another podium finish with their team mates in #66 who won this final round.
Looking back over the season Sugden and Collard have taken 5 wins and 2 second places on their way to second place in the championship which was won by their #66 sister car of Mark Lieb and Mike Rockenfeller who took 6 wins and 4 second places, as Mike said after the race: "In the end, this year was just about who had more wins, and we had that by one. We were even on quickest race laps, I think, but one up also on poles. That shows how close it was, all the way. It would have been nice to have had both cars on the podium for the last race, but as a team, we still won every race."
Kenny Chen, owner of the GruppeM team is to be congratulated on winning all 11 races in the series, something that a private entrant team has never before achieved. The only previous clean sweep was when full factory teams were permitted to take part and Mercedes Benz took all 10 races in the 1998 series. As GruppeM was only established as a race team at the start of 2004 to compete in the British GT championship, which they also won they have a record of achievement that will probably stand for some time.
For Tim his second and third places and consistent top six finishes in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with J3 Racing added to his achievements with GruppeM have given him 17 top 6 finishes from 22 races including 9 podium positions. He has only had 4 races where he failed to finish and the remaining result was a 9th place at Road America in the ALMS. Sugden and Collard's 5 race wins in the FIA series equal the 5 wins of Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister in the ALMS and has only been bettered in GT racing by the GruppeM #66 car and the 7 wins in GT1 by the #4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Berretta if you add Le Mans to ALMS.
After a season in which he has flown over 150,000 miles and finished 2nd in the FIA series and 6th in the ALMS Tim is now looking forward to a little time at home for rest and relaxation as he plans for 2006.