Double Win for Simonsen/Lester Combo
Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen scored their second win of the weekend as the CiM Ferrari 430 took a lights to flag victory in Round 12 of the 2007 Avon Tyres British GT Championship. The Ferrari finished 17.3 seconds ahead of Guy Harrington in the #3 Barwell Aston Martin, with the eight championship points enough to put Harrington and Ben de Zille Butler at the top of the championship table, one point ahead of 3rd placed Jonny Cocker and Paul Drayson.
The GTC Class was won by the RSS Performance Porsche 996 of Graeme Mundy and Jamie Smyth after the Team Aero Morgan of Keith Ahlers retired with the engine bay and windscreen covered in oil. The Beechdean Ferrari of Andrew Howard and Aaron Scott was just 3.5 seconds behind at the flag.
Simonsen got a good start as the race went green while behind the Ferrari Bradley Ellis made up two places on the opening lap, passing the VRS Motor Finance Ferrari of Adam Wilcox at the first corner, with both of them demoting the Aston Martin of Jonny Cocker to 4th by the end of lap one.
Dust was kicked up at Clervaux as Ben de Zille Butler and Godfrey Jones went onto the grass, losing them both vaulable places. Barrie Whight in the Cadena Motorsport Aston was hard on the heels of the Tech 9 Porsche of Tom Ferrier, finding a way past on the second lap. Ferrier continued to track the yellow Aston closely, trying to regain the place with a daring move on the inside at the first corner on the next lap, only for Whight to close the door firmly but fairly.
Nick Foster was the first casualty of the race, going off at Tower Bend and bringing out the Safety Car to allow recovery of the beached Team RPM Viper. Just as this was happening the Team Aero Morgan and the Richmond Racing Ginetta both came into the pitlane and both retired depleting the GTC grid by fifty percent before the race was 10 minutes gone.
At the restart Simonsen pulled away from Ellis, who had the Wilcox Ferrari filling his rear view mirrors. As the Viper and Ferrari headed down to Clervaux Wilcox dived to the inside but Ellis defended well and held his position. Further back Ben de Zille Butler was moving steadily back up the grid after his earlier moment and was looking for a way around Ronyane Omahony's Trackspeed Porsche, with Neil Cunningham in the Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper joining in the fun as well. At the Hairpin de Zille Butler tried to go up the inside of the Porsche and then in a cloud of tyre smoke managed to outbreak his rival to move ahead followed through by Cunningham's Viper at the tight 180 degree corner.
Simonsen was continuing to pull away from Ellis, opening up a seven second lead as the pit stop window opened. However Simonsen was going to stay out as long as possible before handing over to Hector Lester and the Dane started to open the gap even further as the laps went on.
Godfrey Jones was recovering well from his earlier grass tracking exploits and was challenging Barrie Whight's Aston for 8th place as the pair headed for the Hairpin for the 13th time. The Ascari dived down the inside getting alongside the Aston but as they both put the power down the Aston Martin was forced to the edge of the track and a wheel on the grass delayed Whight sufficiently to allow Jones to move ahead as they crossed the line.
By lap 23 all of the cars had pitted for their mandatory stops and as the cars sorted themselves out Hector Lester found himself leading in the CiM Ferrari by 15.8 seconds from Phil Burton's VRS Motor Finance Ferrari, with Paul Drayson's Aston, Tom Alexander's Aston and Alex Mortimer's Viper right behind him on the road and all challenging for 2nd place.
Burton fell to Drayson on lap 24 and then to Alexander st Sunny Out on the next lap however Burton was able to hold off the challenge of Mortimer's Viper to hold on to 4th place for the time being. Drayson, now in second was unable to match the pace of the leading Ferrari and Lester continued to pull away from the chasing pack by nearly 0.5 seconds per lap.
Alex Mortimer's battle with Phil Burton was concluded on lap 32 with a classic move on the inside at the Hairpin but at the next corner the cars clashed and the RPM Viper's race ended in a cloud of dust at the Clervaux gravel trap. Burton was able to continue but a spin at the Hairpin on the next lap while fighting with Matt Harris in the Tech 9 Porsche dropped him back to 9th.
In the GTC class, Andrew Howard was leading in the Beechdean Ferrari but was being caught at a great rate of knots by the RSS Performance Porsche of Graeme Mundy. On lap 33 Mundy was 3.6 seconds behind, but he soon caught the red Ferrari 360 at the Hairpin and a move on the inside saw teh Porsche sweep into the class lead with five laps of the race remaining.
While all this was going on Guy Harrington had taken over the driving duties in the number 3 Barwell Aston from Ben de Zille Butler. Exiting the pits in 13th place Harrington started to make up places straight away and by lap 32 had climbed to 7th. Burton's demise pushed him further up the standings and then a move on the Tech9 Porsche put him into 4th with his team mates Tom Alexander and Paul Drayson ahead of him. Harrington moved ahead of Alexander on the inside at Tower Bend on lap 36 and quickly reeled in Drayson to pass the bio fuel Aston at the Chicane on the penultimate lap to take second place.
At the flag it was the CiM Ferrari with Hector Lester at the wheel from Guy Harrington and Paul Drayson. Eight championship points for Guy Harrington and Ben de Zille Butler was enough to put them at the top of teh championship standings, one point ahead of Paul Drayson and Jonny Cocker with two races, and twenty points, at Rockingham remaining. Maximum points for Hector Lester puts him just nine points behind the leaders, with Alex Mortimer and Bradley Ellis just one point ahead of the Ulsterman in joint third.
Three podiums finishes from the weekend secured the British GT Team Title for Barwell Motorsport, the Surrey team leaving Croft with a 35 point lead over Team RPM with just 20 points on offer at Rockingham. Barwell secured the title by one of its cars scoring a podium finish at every race this season, including five wins from the twelve races held so far, an impressive tally.
In the GTC Class Graeme Mundy and Jamie Smyth are now 20 points clear of the Beechdean Ferrari of Andrew Howard and Aaron Scott and have to secure one more point at Rockingham to clinch the title.