ELLIS VICTORIOUS AT ROCKINGHAM
Croydon's Bradley Ellis clinched his second Avon Tyres British GT Championship GTC class victory in round 11 of the series at Rockingham, Northamptonshire, on Sunday 13 August. Alongside Team RPM team mate Alex Mortimer, Ellis seized valuable championship points which went some way to making amends for a disastrous round 10 the previous day, when Mortimer was denied another podium finish and more vital points.
A good start from sixth on the grid in class for round 10 saw Ellis hold position through turn one and the hairpin. Once the field had settled in, Ellis picked his way through the GTC class field and was up to third half way through his stint. With the two Trackspeed cars well out in front, Ellis pushed hard to reduce the five second or so gap between them down to four seconds prior to his pitstop.
Mortimer continued the chase, managing to close the gap and take Ryan Hooker's Trackspeed Porsche 996 on lap 35. Just a few laps later, Mortimer was within two seconds of class leader Matt Allison in the second Trackspeed car, when disaster struck whilst passing back markers and Mortimer's Team RPM Porsche was forced to retire from the race. George MacKintosh in the Lotus Exige misjudged the hairpin and spun the car directly into the path of Mortimer's Porsche, resulting in a burst radiator and body work damage to the right-hand side front and back wings. The driver later received a reprimand from the stewards for dangerous driving.
Despite the disappointment of loosing much-needed championship points, Team RPM put Saturday's race behind them and turned all attentions to round 11. Mortimer got a slow start from second in class on the grid, allowing Adam Wilcox in the Ferrari and Hooker's Porsche to slip past, but quickly recovered. Ten minutes into the race, Mortimer had closed back up to the leading pack and took Hooker for third.
Mortimer immediately turned his attentions to close on Allison and managed to get the run past just a couple of laps later. Before deciding to take a strategic early pitstop in the 28th minute and handover to team mate Ellis, Mortimer managed to slash the six or so second gap to Wilcox by half.
The tactic paid off, allowing Ellis to rejoin on a clear track and thump in some fantastic lap times to eventually close the margin to the Ferrari to one and a half seconds when Phil Burton emerged at the wheel from the pitstop. Ellis continued to make ground on Burton and, just over ten minutes into his stint, the 19-year-old slipped past for the lead.
Ellis continued to drive turn perfect to pull out a comfortable margin before easing off to bring the Team RPM Porsche home to the chequered flag. Taking the top step on the podium for the second time this season, Mortimer and Ellis celebrated the fact they had managed to at least bag some top points over the weekend.
Following the podium presentation, Ellis commented: "Our win here today was just desserts for our appalling luck yesterday; it was great to be back on the top of the podium. My sincere thanks to all of Team RPM for their tireless efforts in getting the car back on the track. Alex and I were a strong pairing all weekend and showed good race pace throughout. We were second quickest on Friday and the quickest Porsche all weekend.
"We were obviously disappointed with Saturday's result, which lost us valuable championship points through no fault of our own. Our championship chances are pretty much destroyed as it's virtually impossible to close the gap on Matt Allison and Jonny Lang, but we will be doing all we can to repeat today's performance next time at Brands Hatch, my home circuit."
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship will travel to Brands Hatch in Kent for rounds 12 and 13 on 26 and 27 August.