TOTAL CONTROL RACING -- 2010 GINETTA G50 CUP SEASON REVIEW
Numerous race wins and a sustained championship challenge throughout the year once again placed Total Control Racing at the forefront of the Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup in 2010 -- with Carl Breeze just missing out on the driver's title in his, and the team's second season in the category.
Expanding its operations to run in the Ginetta G50 Cup in 2009, TCR made a superb debut and took the entrant's title in its maiden season. Aiming to retain the crown this year, the Wednesbury squad unfortunately missed out on championship glory but, as ever, the team was never far from success.
Carl Breeze, who finished third overall in the championship standings last year, led the TCR attack once again and concluded the campaign with a fantastic record of nine race wins, 10 other podiums and six fastest race laps on his way to becoming Vice-Champion.
Team-mate Joachim Ritter, who also entered his second full season in Ginetta G50 this year, made great progress and secured a top seven championship finish after a terrific campaign. Achieving best results of two top fours, four other top sixes and 11 other top 10 finishes, the Danish-born racer established himself as a consistent front-runner and surely a podium threat if he returns to the class in 2011.
Reflecting on TCR's second year in Ginetta G50, team boss Lee Brookes said: "In the end the driver's championship was very close between Carl and Frank (Wrathall -- 2010 Champion), they pushed each other hard all year but raced with a lot of mutual respect. It could have gone either way but Carl just missed out which was a real shame. He proved his class all year -- he's always a constant threat.
"Joachim came on very strong this year, he showed glimpses of what he can be capable of during his first season with us but this time he really did deliver some great results. His pace improved a lot this year and to end the year seventh in the championship was a fantastic result. Hopefully he'll be back in 2011 -- if he is we're sure he'll be able to make a podium breakthrough."
The season-opening event, at Thruxton, didn't begin as the team wanted with a tricky qualifying session on a drying track but Breeze fought through brilliantly from 14th on the grid in the first race to an excellent fifth place. He backed this up with his first podium of the year in race two and then took fourth in the third encounter, just 0.7 seconds ahead of a very impressive Ritter.
Rockingham hosted rounds four, five and six with Breeze claiming a hat-trick of podiums -- second in the first race, his maiden victory of 2010 in the second outing and then another second place in race three. Ritter grabbed seventh, 12th and ninth place finishes but at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit he had his first non-finish of the campaign after posting 13th and 11th place results.
The first visit of the season to the Kent track started perfectly for Breeze with two fantastic wins but an ignition relay problem in the third race led to an uncharacteristic 13th place finish. For the Oulton Park event, two rather than three Ginetta G50 races took place and Breeze put memories of his horrific 2009 accident behind him with two emphatic and very well deserved victories.
For Ritter, Oulton Park was disappointing and through no fault of his own. In race one contact forced him out of a top 10 challenge while in race two a fuse problem, linked to a gearbox pump failure, led to a drop down the order to 16th place.
At Croft, for the conclusion of the first half of the campaign, Ritter finished 11th in the opener, 11th again in the second encounter and then delivered a great drive in race three to finish sixth. Breeze, meanwhile, sealed a trio of third place finishes to bolster his championship bid.
The Kings Lynn racer's home circuit, Snetterton, kicked-off the second half of the season and he hit the winning trail once again during the first race with a fine victory before adding another success to his tally in race two and then second place in race three to cap off a tremendous weekend. Ritter again made his presence felt in the top 10 twice, with a best of eighth place in race three.
Silverstone's event featured just two Ginetta G50 races again and marked a real flashpoint in the title battle between Breeze and Wrathall. Contact between the pair at Luffield in the second race resulted in a retirement for Wrathall while Breeze was able to recover well into sixth place -- having dropped to 17th. Added to second place from race one, Breeze left Silverstone with a 28-point lead.
Over the course of the final three events though, at Knockhill, Donington Park and Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, Breeze's title bid unfortunately lost steam. Taking a best of fourth on the road at Knockhill, with 10th and ninth place results in the other two races, an electrical problem in the first Donington Park encounter dealt a bitter blow.
Back on the podium in the third Donington race to limit the damage to his championship bid, Breeze signed off the season with two more victories and a third place during the finale at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit but the title eluded him in the end by 10 points.
The final portion of the season contained some strong performances by Ritter as he secured seventh place in the championship standings. After taking 13th and 15th position results at Silverstone, he enjoyed an impressive weekend at Knockhill with seventh, 11th and eighth places in the three races.
Donington Park's opening encounter served up one of Ritter's best performances of the season with a fantastic fifth place finish in which he superbly kept eventual champion Wrathall at bay. Taking 12th and 10th position in the other two outings at the East Midlands track, the TCR driver then closed out the season at Brands Hatch with a trio of ninth place results on the road.
Exceptional endurance racing debut for TCR With a view to branching out into additional arms of motorsport in 2011, TCR made its first step into the realms of endurance racing with one of its Ginetta G50 cars during the finale of the Britcar GT Championship at Brands Hatch in early November.
The team's former ELF Renault Clio Cup title challenger Alex MacDowall -- now a front-runner in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship -- returned to the TCR fold alongside his father Ray, a top-line racer in his own right, for the 90-minute 'Into the Night' spectacular.
Marking the squad's first experience of night racing and GT-style action, the team excelled and thanks to the efforts of the MacDowalls the TCR crew won Class 3I and also finished a stunning third overall behind the infinitely more powerful Class 1 Mosler and Ferrari 430 GTC.
Team boss Lee Brookes said: "We definitely showed we can be very competitive in endurance racing, it was a fantastic debut for the team and we're certainly looking seriously at expanding into GT and sportscars in 2011 to run alongside our Ginetta and Renault Clio Cup campaigns."