WRATHALL BOUNCES BACK AT BRANDS WITH STRONG WIN Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup title challenger Frank Wrathall returned to the top step of the podium at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit today, Sunday, 2nd May, with an outstanding drive in wet...
WRATHALL BOUNCES BACK AT BRANDS WITH STRONG WIN
Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup title challenger Frank Wrathall returned to the top step of the podium at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit today, Sunday, 2nd May, with an outstanding drive in wet conditions helping him close to within four points of series leader Carl Breeze.
Compared to Saturday's action where Breeze dominated and Wrathall suffered horrendous luck, today marked a reversal in fortunes for the two championship pace-setters. As Wrathall steered his Dynojet-run car to a largely unchallenged 1.4 second victory, Breeze was forced to reflect on what might have been when an ignition relay failure occurred as he completed the formation lap.
Speaking after the race, Wrathall commented: "The car was fantastic today and I'm so glad to come away from the weekend with a win. It was so disappointing to have a problem before the first race on Saturday but to come through to fourth from 17th on the grid in the second race was great, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and it put me on the front row today and in a position to win."
While Breeze headed for the pits at the end of the green-flag lap to try and get the problem with his car's ignition rectified by the Total Control Racing mechanics, the race got underway with pole-sitter Aaron Williamson managing to find some decent traction on the inside but he had to concede first place to Wrathall into Paddock Hill Bend.
Third placed starter Benji Hetherington also got past Williamson at Druids to demote his Century Motorsport team-mate to third and although under pressure then from Tom Sharp he survived the attack as Sharp ran straight on at Surtees under braking.
Alice Powell, Freddie Hetherington and Julien Draper also had problems at the same corner, all three running wide but rejoining. Williamson's hopes were then dealt a significant blow at the end of the lap when he ran wide at Clark Curve to drop down to eighth position.
The first lap also delivered problems for Chairman's Cup pace-setter Colin White when contact ruled him out of proceedings instantly and led to the deployment of the Safety Car in time for the start of lap two.
At the re-start on lap four, Wrathall led Benji Hetherington, an impressive Stephen Tyldsley, a very fast-starting Chris Dittmann -- up from 10th on the grid -- and Adam Morgan. Joachim Ritter also made great progress during the first lap to climb into the top six from 11th at the start.
Breeze was able to join the race from the pits at this point but running a lap down, he had to settle for 13th place. His pace though was highly impressive, the championship leader missing out on the fastest lap of the race -- which went to Mark Davies -- by just six 100ths of a second.
Opening up a strong lead again, Wrathall's work was undone once more on lap seven when the Safety Car appeared for a second time after Ritter ended his race in the gravel trap on the outside of Druids Hairpin. Tyldsley, meanwhile, had already slipped from third to fifth after running wide at Clark Curve at the end of the fifth tour and Davis dropped back from sixth with a slip at Surtees.
After the second re-start on lap eight, Wrathall shook off the attentions of Benji Hetherington but a little further behind the action started to heat-up with Tyldsley and Williamson fighting very hard over fifth place. Switching positions at Surtees and again at Sheene Curve on lap nine, contact between the pair at Stirling's Bend led to retirement for Tyldsley.
Yet again, the Safety Car was required but during a five-lap sprint to the finish Wrathall delivered a mature and controlled performance to open up a winning margin of 1.4 seconds. Hetherington took a fine second place and Dittmann was a very strong third for CDR ahead of Morgan in fourth place.
An impressive drive from Alice Powell, her best yet in Ginetta G50, delivered a deserved top five result while Barwell's Draper finished in sixth position and Williamson recovered in seventh after his lap nine excursion. The 'guest car' driver, Simon Hill, took his second Chairman's Cup win in eighth place overall -- a strong result for the ITV Sport commentator, father of Ginetta Junior racer Jake.
Round nine runner-up Benji Hetherington said: "It's good to be in second place but it was a really tough race as my wiper broke on the warm-up lap so every time I got in the spray from Frank's car I had to back off. We managed to hold the gap well though, I'm really pleased. Hopefully we can get a win at the next round -- I only live nine miles from Oulton Park so I'm looking forward to that."
Third placed Dittmann added: "The team has done a great job for me this weekend. It was disappointing in race one yesterday as I was fighting well for the lead until we had a gear-link failure. It's good to bounce back today with a podium though."
There are now five weeks to wait until the next instalment of Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup action at Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire over the weekend, 5th/6th June.