RPM Viper Strikes Back in Championship Battle
Bradley Ellis and Alex Mortimer put themselves back into contention for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship title with their third win of the 2007 season at Rockingham after a race long battle with the Tech 9 Porsche 997 of Matt Harris and Tom Ferrier and the Team Modena Lamborghini Gallardo of Adam Jones and Jason Templeman. Jamie Smyth and Graeme Mundy were crowned GTC Champions after finishing second, a lap behind the Beechdean Ferrari of Andrew Howard and Aaron Scott.
Jonny Cocker brought the bio fuelled Aston Martin DBRS9 in 4th place ahead of the Team RPM Viper of Nick Foster and Nigel Redwood to move himself and Paul Drayson ahead in the championship table by two points from Mortimer and Ellis after Guy Harrington and Ben de Zille Butler finished 12th after an early spin, forcing them to remain on 69 points, four points adrift of their Barwell teammates.
Jason Templeman led the rest of the 25-car field around the 1.9-mile Rockingham circuit and got a good start as the green flags waved to start the penultimate race of the 2007 season. Alex Mortimer, strating in 3rd, went to the inside of Matt Harris in the Porsche and moved into second place as the cars headed into Deane Corner for the first time.
David Jones in the Team Eurotech Ascari was the first casualty of the race, pulling off the track at T1 after the Ascari's engine started to misfire. Barrie Whight in the Cadena Motorsport Aston Martin tried to move up the some places at the start by going low on Turn One but ended up having to brake hard and ended the opening lap three places further back from his 7th place on the starting grid.
At the end of the opening lap Templeman led from Mortimer and Harris, with Oliver Bryant in the Eclipse Mosler in 4th just ahead of Mike Greenhalgh in the Team Berlanga Ascari. Lap two saw Mortimer continue to put pressure on Templeman but the former Porsche Carrera Cup front runner held onto his lead. Further back George Mackintosh in the Team 4Car Porsche 997 had a spin at Deane Corner while Ben de Zille Butler was challenging Paul Drayson for 10th place. De Zille Butler went down the inside of the number one Aston of Drayson but the leading DBRS9 held on to maintain the track position.
On lap 6 Mortimer kept the pressure on Templeton and as the two cars went into Tarzan for the 6th time the leading car ran wide and the Viper dived down the inside of the Lamborghini to take the lead. Further back Hector Lester in the CiM Ferrari made a mistake at Brooke Corner, which allowed the two Aston Martin's of Drayson and de Zille Butler to move ahead as the cars crossed the line to begin lap 7.
At the final corner Oliver Bryant's Mosler was tapped into a spin by Greenhalgh's Ascari and the Mosler span across the track hitting the tyres on the apex of the left-right corners, with Bryant ending up beached in the gravel trap. The Safety Car was scrambled to retrieve the immobile Mosler and remove the tyre barrier from the track.
It only took the marshals two laps to clear the circuit and racing resumed on lap 10 with Mortimer once again pulling away from Templeman and Harris. Phil Burton in the VRS Motor Finance Ferrari had been making steady progress from the back of the grid moving ahead of the Apex Motorsport Jaguar XKR of Phil Keen to take 12th place just before the pit window opened. At the same time a punctures right front forced Hector Lester into a spin at Brooke, dropping the Ulsterman down the order as he struggled back to the pits.
Another spinner was Ben de Zille Butler, who had been unsuccessfully challenging Paul Drayson dropping the Bury St Edmunds driver down to 18th place.
The pit window opened and there was plenty of activity as cars pitted to change drivers. On lap 21 Mortimer and Harris came in at the same time but the places changed as the Porsche, with Tom Ferrier at the wheel, regained the track in front of the Viper of Bradley Ellis.
Once the pitstops had been completed it was Ferrier in the Tech9 Porsche who led the race ahead of Ellis in the Team RPM Viper, the #7 RPM Viper of Nigel Redwood, Erik Zwart in the Berlanga Ascari, Adam Jones in the Lamborghini Gallardo and Jonny Cocker in the #1 Aston Martin.
While Ellis pressurised the leading Porsche, Adam Jones made up one place when Zwart tried a move on Redwood's Viper into Turn 1. The Ascari had to back out of the move and Jones swept past Zwart as they both braked for Deene Corner. Zwart then had Cockers Aston Martin filling his mirrors for the next nine laps before the 2004 British GT Champion could move ahead on lap 33. On the next lap Ellis finally managed to make his move on Ferrier and teh Viper out braked the Porsche into Deane and once past started to move away as 0.5 seconds a lap.
The next lap Cocker moved into 4th place, demoting Redwood as they crossed the line when the driver of the #7 Viper missed a gear coming out of the last corner.
Allan Simonsen, now at the wheel of the CiM Ferrari 430, was making up places once the punctured tyre had been replaced, moving ahead of Guy Harrington on the last lap to finish 11th but well outside the points.
At the flag it was Bradley Ellis who scored the team's third win of 2007 ahead of the Porsche 997 of Tom Ferrier, demonstrating that the Porsche was still a competitive car in British GT this season. The final podium slot went to Adam Jones, Team Modena's first British GT podium.
In GTC Graeme Mundy did enough to bring home the RSS Performance Porsche 996 in second place to win the GTC class championship, one lap behind the Beechdean Ferrari 360 of Aaron Scott.
All eyes are now on the last race of the season, with Jonny Cocker and Paul Drayson on the edge of setting motorsport history by becoming the first bio fuelled car to win a major championship in an open fuel formula. However Bradley Ellis and Alex Mortimer are just two points behind and could still snatch the title tomorrow.