SUPER SHARP TAKES RICHLY DESERVED MAIDEN G50 CUP WIN Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup front-runner Tom Sharp produced the performance of his career so far at Croft Circuit near Darlington this afternoon, Saturday, 19th June, to seal his first category...
SUPER SHARP TAKES RICHLY DESERVED MAIDEN G50 CUP WIN
Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup front-runner Tom Sharp produced the performance of his career so far at Croft Circuit near Darlington this afternoon, Saturday, 19th June, to seal his first category race win under immense pressure from 'guest car' driver Stefan Hodgetts.
On the pace from the off today, Sharp scorched to pole position at the wheel of his IDL car with a time of 1m24.938 seconds (90.06mph) and he went on to take a richly deserved lights-to-flag victory ahead of renowned racer Hodgetts.
In terms of the championship, Sharp's impressive day's work has lifted him into the top four while the lead is still held by Total Control Racing's Carl Breeze -- the latter finishing in third place but taking the points for second due to Hodgetts being ineligible to score in the 'guest car'.
While there were never more than a few 10ths of a second between Sharp and Hodgetts, the same was true in the battle for third between title protagonists Breeze and Frank Wrathall -- neither driver enjoying the sort of qualifying performance they had anticipated but still taking valuable points.
For Sharp though, today was undoubtedly the highlight of his career so far -- he commented: "It's almost a dream. I looked at my dash in qualifying and almost couldn't believe I had pole position. To then get the win from pole is unbelievable. Everyone has worked really hard, it's great to finally be here on the top step of the podium."
Although under intense pressure throughout, Sharp was never unduly troubled and after the two front-row starters traded paint with some rubbing into the first corner, Clervaux, Sharp help on to the lead and was never headed.
Hodgetts, impressing on his first time out in a G50 Cup car, lapped just a couple of 10ths of a second shy of lap record pace and could well be a challenger for the win during one of Sunday's two races after running Sharp so closely this afternoon -- only 0.458 seconds the difference at the flag.
Breeze and Wrathall were able to move into third and fourth positions respectively on the first lap at Hawthorn following contact between second row starters Freddie Hetherington -- a career best G50 Cup qualifying performance in third on the grid -- and Stephen Tyldsley.
From that point on, there was little to choose between the two title favourites and during the last two laps the battle for third intensified. Breeze held on by a mere 0.3 seconds while Wrathall limited the points damage by setting a new lap record of 1m25.284 seconds in his Dynojet car.
Returning former Ginetta G50 Cup champion Nigel Moore, driving for the Optimum team, made good progress from eighth on the grid and a terrific battle with Adam Morgan over fifth position came to a head at the end of lap five.
Looking to the outside of Morgan's car into the hairpin, Moore darted back to the inside to get alongside for the run to Clervaux on lap six but Morgan held on to the place. Not to be denied, Moore continued to apply pressure and got his chance to pass at Hawthorn to seal fifth place.
As soon as he had managed to negotiate Morgan, Moore pulled clear but the gap to the top four was just too great. Morgan held on to sixth position to the finish ahead of Tockwith's Alice Powell, Optimum's Mark Davies and Barwell Motorsport's Jon Barnes -- the former British GT Champion making his debut in Ginetta G50.
Championship front-runner Benji Hetherington, meanwhile, battled through to 10th place after a difficult qualifying session in which he was an uncharacteristic 13th on the timesheets. Chairman's Cup success went to Colin White -- the sole class runner this weekend.
Commenting on his second place finish, guest car racer Hodgetts said: "I've really enjoyed today, we haven't had much time in the car so I just got in it and did a decent job. I'm enjoying being in the championship, they're all really good guys and there are some fantastic drivers like Tom (Sharp), Carl (Breeze) and Frank (Wrathall). It's great to be a part of it, big thanks to Ginetta for the chance."
Championship leader Breeze added: "It's fair to say we were quickest on Friday during the test but we got caught out in qualifying and that was that. It felt a bit unfamiliar being on the third row of the grid but Frank was in the same boat too so the aim was to make sure I finished ahead of him. For that reason, it's a great result and good to be on the podium again."
Round 13 of the 2010 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup is scheduled to take place at 13.20 tomorrow, Sunday, 20th June, with round 14 set to follow at around 17.55. Both encounters will be screened live on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4.
With the starting order for round 13 set by the results from this afternoon's race, Sharp will line-up on pole position ahead of Hodgetts, Breeze, Wrathall, Moore and Morgan.