ELLIS CLINCHES DOUBLE PODIUM AT THRUXTON
Croydon's Bradley Ellis and teammate Alex Mortimer (Stoneleigh) scored two credible podium finishes at Thruxton circuit, Hampshire, in rounds nine and 10 of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship on 25&26 August. The pairing's impressive continued form saw Ellis clinch his first GT3 pole position on Saturday, which converted into a second place finish, followed by third on Sunday. Their efforts, however, were not justly rewarded as the pair now lie second and sit two points adrift in the title fight with four rounds left to run.
With the sun beating down, Ellis started the weekend in style by clinching his maiden British GT3 pole for round nine at the challenging Hampshire track on Saturday while Mortimer secured fourth on the grid ready for round 10 on Sunday.
Ellis kept the pack tight and nailed it at the start to launch into the lead but was challenged by Barrie Whight in the Cadena Motorsport Aston Martin entering the Complex. It was, however, Nigel Redwood's sister Team RPM Viper that finished lap one in second behind Ellis.
The 20-year-old began to pull out a steady lead and by lap 11 was six seconds ahead of Redwood. In the still sweltering heat, Ellis executed a smooth stint and continued to extend his lead without incident or challenge before pitting at the 30-minute marker.
A slick pitstop and Mortimer rejoined in the lead, with Guy Harrington in the number 3 Aston Martin in second and the number 1 Aston of Jonny Cocker in close pursuit in third. Cocker passed Harrington and began to reel in the Team RPM Viper.
Mortimer could do little to stave off Cocker's advances and the Aston Martin glanced past and into the lead through Goodwood on lap 33. Cocker took off at an astonishing pace, leaving Mortimer little choice but to consolidate his position and Cocker finished over 30 seconds clear. With the Barwell Aston taking 10 points for the win, the championship fight was blown wide open once again, with Ellis and Mortimer sharing the lead on 50 points with Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker.
Hot again for round 10 on Sunday and a good start saw Mortimer secure his starting position of fourth by the end of lap one, nine tenths off third-placed Adam Wilcox in the Ferrari. With Cocker's Aston Martin and Allan Simonsen's Ferrari out in front, Mortimer focussed his efforts on Wilcox and barely allowed for more than seven tenths of breathing space for the first 10 laps.
Despite pressing Wilcox, Mortimer had the number 2 Aston of Michael Bentwood in his mirrors and the trio consistently stayed on a level pegging until the leaders began to catch and pass the backmarkers on lap 12. The gap continued to vary by mere tenths lap after lap and as they approached the pitstop window on lap 18 just five tenths separated Wilcox and Mortimer, with Bentwood four tenths behind in fifth.
Mortimer and Wilcox simultaneously dived into the pits on lap 20 but Team RPM got Ellis out on track first due to the VRS Motor Finance Ferrari opting to change tyres. Once the pitstops were all complete, Ellis was promoted to third with Paul Drayson now leading in the Aston and its sister car in second, driven by Ben de Zille Butler.
A drivers' door latch failure, however, left Ellis with little chance of making an impression on the second-placed Aston, as he had to spend the first two laps trying to hold the door shut through the Complex. With the door safely secured, Ellis was finally able to push and despite such an eventful start to his stint he closed to within 3.5 seconds of de Zille Butler by lap 33, until backmarkers once again came into play.
Halfway into his stint, Ellis began to struggle on his tyres. Suffering from severe vibrations, he was unable to post consistent lap times in the final 15-minutes and each flying lap, which matched the lap times of the leader, had to be followed by a series of much more reserved laps. Ellis sensibly decided to ease off and consolidate his position upon hearing the news that Redwood's sister Team RPM Viper had picked up a puncture in the closing stages.
Once back in the pit garage, it appeared that Ellis' left front tyre had suffered severe blistering and was warn down to the wire. Despite scoring two podium finishes across the weekend, Ellis and Mortimer are now two points behind Drayson and Cocker in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship fight, promising a nail biting end to the season as Team RPM heads to Croft circuit, Yorkshire, for rounds 11&12.
Ellis commented: "Although it's been great to be on the podium twice this weekend and pick up some valuable championship points, we are disappointed to have lost the championship lead. It was a shame not to clinch our third win of the season yesterday and we just couldn't finish any higher than third today. But we are far from out of the championship fight as we are just two points behind the leaders. It's incredibly close and anything can, and generally will, happen so we'll be going all out for victory and maximum points at Croft."