James Gornall and Jon Barnes came away from Brands Hatch as the Avon Tyres British GT champions. The Trimite Brookspeed Viper drivers took first place in the first of the two races at Brands Hatch meaning they only required a single point from the remainder of the season to become mathematically uncatchable. This was soon achieved with a seventh place in the second of the weekends 1 hour races.
Barnes said 'Were champions now so we should be pretty happy'
Gornall commented 'We have had some good luck and some bad luck this year, we saw Simonsen come into the pits, he obviously had a problem which gave us the championship.'
Yet another dry sunny day awaited the spectators at Brands Hatch on Saturday (the 12th July) for the 11th round of the British GT Championship.
The cars lined up on the grid headed by Paddy Shovlin in the CR Scuderia Ferrari F430 ahead of Gornall in the Viper. Michael Meadows in another CR Scuderia F430 and Nick Foster in the Team RPM Dodge Viper making up the second row. Shovlin in the F430 found himself under instant under pressure from the Viper. Gornall hounded the Irishman in the Ferrari and on the third lap Gornall out braked the Ferrari at paddock hill to take the lead. Meadows in the CRS F430 GT3 followed Gornall past the claiming the second spot from the sister CR Scuderia car.
Meadows chased down the lead Viper Competition Coupe, but couldn't find a route past until the No.40 car pulled into the pits for it's compulsory driver change.
The top three had created a three-second gap the rest of the British GT field who had all held station from the opening laps. Once the pit stop window opened it was all change as the teams swapped positions as well as drivers. Over the space of ten minutes, the Brookspeed Viper yielded the lead and fought it's way back into the front twice as the both CR Scuderia Ferraris now piloted by James Sutton and Michael Cullen, exited the pits ahead of Barnes now in the Viper.
With a clear track ahead of him, Barnes got the best out of the Viper's V10 engine gaining an eight seconds advantage over the rest of the field. This proved enough to give him and the team their forth win of the season. Behind the Viper, Cullen in second looked good for the place, but heading through the final turn on the final lap it was all just too close to call. Allan Simonsen in the CiM Ferrari F430 had a stunning drive. He scythed through the field to get himself onto the tail of Cullen by the final lap, with Oliver Bryant in the Tech 9 Lamborghini Gallardo right on his tail. Simonsen managed to magic up a gap on the inside of the Clarke curve and get along side Cullen. Oliver Bryant took full advantage of the battle ahead also getting into the fight for second.
Coming to the line, it was a three way drag race with Simonsen coming out on top claiming second place. Bryant out dragged Cullen's Ferrari for third, a mere hundredth of a second ahead.
Simonsen and team mate Hector Lester's second place left them as the only challengers that could mathematically catch Gornall and Barnes, albeit needing a miracle with 3 races left to run.
Nigel Moore secured his second GT4 class win a full lap ahead of nearest competitor Rob Austin. But the day belonged to Stewart Linn and co-driver Matt Nicol-Jones who finished third to become the 2008 Avon Tyres British GT4 Champions. Linn and Nicol-Jones have not been off the GT4 podium all season and have racked up 5 wins, 4 seconds and 2 third place finishes along the way.
As the drivers prepared for the second race of the weekend on Sunday (13th July) the Drivers title was tantalizingly close for the Trimite Brookspeed drivers Gornall and Barnes, they needed just one point.
Simonsen in the Christians in Motorsport Ferrari F430 led the pack away towards Paddock Hill. Barnes looked determined to repeat the last round win and got away well taking the second placed Bryant in the Team RPM Viper to dive down the inside at Paddock Hill. He then set about chasing Simonsen for the lead but Simonsen was having none of it and even managed to pull away from the seemingly all conquering Viper.
Bryant in the third placed Viper was soon to be handed some bad news as he was given the Black and Orange flag due to the rear diffuser working loose. The unfortunate Bryant had to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 9 which cost him any chance of a podium finish.
On lap 15 the pit window opened and the lead CiM Ferrari of Simonsen dived into the pits, something was clearly up as the as the engine covers came off the Ferrari and it would retire from the lead. After the pit stops where taken Gornall maintained the lead he inherited from Barnes. The safety car was brought out by Gavan Kershaw as he went straight on at Sheene Curve, the Cadena Motorsports Aston Martin finishing it's race stuck the gravel.
As the race restarted on lap 28 Gornell lead with Andy Jenkinson in the 22GT Racing Aston Martin second, followed by hard charging Paddy Shovlin in the CRS Ferrari. Matt Nicol-Jones led the GT4 class ahead of Richard Evans in the RPM Ginetta.
Shovlin was soon up to second diving down the inside at Graham Hill Bend to take second place and it was clear something was not right with the lead Viper.
Gornall ran wide at Paddock Hill but managed to keep it on the black stuff but the Viper was going slow allowing Shovlin, Meadows and Foster to past. Gornall pitted the car where the team replaced the right rear wheel, sending him back out, but now in 7th place.
Shovlin took the win but the drivers championship now belonged to Gornall and Barnes.
The two drivers didn't seal the deal with the race win that was so nearly theirs but they sealed it none the less. Next item on the Trimite Brookspeed team's agenda is the championship team title and you wouldn't bet against them.
The next race is at Silverstone on 17th August which will be a two hour race.