Donington woes end Pullan & Short's championship challenge.
Rollcentre Racing's Simon Pullan and Martin Short came agonisingly close to clinching the BRDC British GT GTO class title in the final round of the championship at Donington Park (September 20-1-2) but were forced to concede the series decider when an electrical problem followed by a differential failure caused their retirement.
QUALIFYING: 1st in class, 7th overall: 1:33.994
Hotly pursued by the EMKA Porsche GT3-R of Tim Sugden and the Veloqx Ferrari 360 N-GT of Jamie Davies, Martin Short set a sizzling pace in the Xavex Texaco TVR Tuscan R during Saturday qualifying. His two fastest laps were both good enough for GTO pole and meant that Pullan would start Sunday's final round from the front row of the GTO grid and in seventh place overall.
Despite a good start from pole, Pullan was edged out by British GT newcomer and former F1 driver, Ivan Capelli on the run down to Redgate at the beginning of lap one. While Capelli stormed off the line to lead the class, Pullan was boxed in behind a GT class Ultima and had to settle for second place for much of the opening tour.
When Capelli left the door half open at the Melbourne hairpin, Pullan seized his chance and dived through to lead the GTO field over the start line for lap two. Up to fifth place in the overall classification and pulling away steadily from early leader Capelli, Pullan was able to create a comfortable safety cushion ready for the all important driver changeover.
With season-long championship rival Tim Sugden's new co-driver Ian Flux further down the field and needing to finish ahead of the Rollcentre car to clinch the title, Lincolnshire-based Pullan was firmly on target with an eight second safety cushion at the twenty-minute mark.
All three championship contending cars pitted close together, early in the pit stop window. However, a super quick pit stop by the Rollcentre team enabled Short to increase the advantage by a further six seconds as he completed his out lap. Despite having to switch to the reserve fuel pump during the early stages of his stint, he went on to extend the lead to a comfortable nineteen seconds at the head of GTO.
Unluckily, the onset of electrical problems on lap twenty-two signalled the beginning of the end for Pullan and Short's championship challenge. Although Short eventually got the car back in working order as he was being pushed off the track, the title had already been lost barring problems to other cars. A differential failure two laps later forced the car into a final retirement with around a third of the race left to run.
"We are obviously upset about the final outcome to the championship but we've proved that we had the pace to win," Pullan commented. "To be beaten fair and square on the track is one thing but when it happens like this with us cruising in the lead then it makes it that little bit harder to take.
"Despite this it has been an amazing year and I have loved working with Martin and everyone at Rollcentre, they are all stars in my eyes. I can't thank the lads enough for the effort they have put into this year in an attempt to win the championship."
The title was eventually decided in favour of Veloqx Motorsport's Jamie Davies after a late challenge from pre-race points leader, Tim Sugden.
Final GTO Championship Standings:
1 Jamie Davies Ferrari 360 N-GT 214
2 Tim Sugden Porsche 911 GT3-R 213
3 Martin Short/Simon Pullan TVR Tuscan R 189
5 David Jones/Godfrey Jones Porsche 911 GT3-R 186
7 Steve O'Rourke Porsche 911 GT3-R 168
8 Calum Lockie Ferrari 360 N-GT 164