The final round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship took place at the UK's future home of Formula 1, Donington Park. Luke Hines and Jeremy Metcalfe took the win in yet another exiting and dramatic race. With the drivers title already sewn...
The final round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship took place at the UK's future home of Formula 1, Donington Park. Luke Hines and Jeremy Metcalfe took the win in yet another exiting and dramatic race.
With the drivers title already sewn up by Jon Barnes and James Gornall the fight was still very much alive for the second spot. CR Suderia drivers Hines and Metcalfe in their Ferrari F430 took the race win and the 10 points, enough to give the pair the runners up spot in the drivers championship.
"It was a brilliant race for us, the car was great and meant I didn't really have to push to be fast. I was confident we could win, it's a fantastic way to end the season - I'm absolutely delighted." Commented Metcalfe .
The win marked the second visit to the top set of the podium for the pair, following their win at Knockhill.
"It's been a good year for Luke and I", he added, "If we'd had better luck there's no doubt we'd have won more races. I'm pleased with how things have gone though"
Fellow CR Suderia team mates Paddy Shovlin and Michael Cullen followed Hines and Metcalfe home in second place in the race which resulted in third in the championship.
Following a damp practice and qualifying session on Saturday, the race on Sunday started in conditions which couldn't have been better for an Octobers day at the English track.
The 22 car grid lined up with Hector Lester in the CiM Ferrari F430 and Nick Foster in the Team RPM Viper occupying the front two spots. As the cars roared away Foster shot into the lead as the cars entered the first corner at Redgate. Hines in the CRS Ferrari F430 got away well from third on the grid and was up alongside Lester into the first corner, the pair battled through Craner Curves down to the Old Hairpin with Hines finally making the move stick.
Guy Harrington in the Team Modena Lamborghini was right behind the battling pair.
Michael Meadows and Paddy Shovlin in another of the CRS Ferrari F430's also got away well and were scrapping over fifth place by the end of the first lap.
Shovlin claimed the place and immediately set off after Harrington's Lamborghini which was glued to the back of Lester's Ferrari.
The three cars were locked in a close battle, but by the third lap Harrington could hold the Ferrari back no longer and Shovlin gained another place.
Godfrey Jones in the Preci Spark Ascari was another competitor on the move getting past Meadows on the third lap, then dispatching Harrington on lap 5 and finally Shovlin and Lester by the 6th lap, putting the Ascari up to 3rd.
Meanwhile 2008 British GT Champion Gornall in the Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper had had a mystifyingly poor qualifying session but now was quite literally scything his way up the field.
The unusually low 13th place on the grid became a more palatable 5th by only the 6th lap al-be-it with a degree of trading paint with other cars.
Hines, who was responsible for the qualifying time and the good start position of the Ferrari, was clearly not prepared to settle for anything less than a win at the last race of the season. He hunted down and passed Fosters Viper on lap 13 taking the Viper on the inside as they approached the Old Hairpin.
The Unfortunate Foster would lose another place on the next lap as Jones moved ahead at MacLeans. By this point it was clear something was not right with the Viper. Foster brought the car into the pits and into retirement. The sick viper left a trail of oil behind it as it was pushed back into the garage.
The viper with Gornall at the wheel was also suffering. Meadows had taken back the place form Gornall in the Trimite Brookspeed car with Harrington following suit on the 18th lap demoting the viper back to 6th.
The race settled down into a stale mate for a few laps but as always with the British GT championship the drama was not far away.
Tom Alexander in the 22GTRacing Aston Martin was the first to suffer a mishap as his car burst into flames as he entered the last corner.
Alexander was fortunately able to bring the flaming Aston to a halt close to the fire marshal's post just before the entrance to the pitlane. The flames were quickly extinguished and Alexander emerged unscathed from the car.
After a few laps the safety car was scrambled so that the stricken Aston could be recovered to a more suitable position in the pitlane.
The safety car created a good opportunity to take the compulsory pitstop and cars started pitting to change drivers, tyres and take on fuel.
Incredibly there was a second fire, this time in the pitlane as the Stark Racing Genetta with Ian Stinton on board drove away from the pit box.
A huge ball of flames and thick black smoke rose up from the pits as the Ginetta drove away leaving a trail of fire behind it. Stinton bravely decided not to stop in the pit area next to any refueling rigs, instead heading down to the end of the pitlane where he parked the now heavily burning car next to a fire marshal.
The flames were quickly extinguished as a fire truck arrived on the scene to help dowse the fire.
Unfortunately the fire truck had completely blocked the end of the pitlane causing a queue of cars to form behind it, all desparate to get back on the track. In the ensuing confusion Hines in the lead car was waved past the safety car along with two RPM Vipers effectively putting the leader a lap ahead of the rest of the field.
On the 46th lap with all pitstops completed the safety car came in. Metcalfe was now in the lead CRS Ferrari taking over from Hines, David Jones in the Ascari was second with Michael Cullen in the CRS Ferrari third.
Sutton momentarily passed Cullen to move into the final podium position but then retired with engine problems handing the place back.
A collision at the Old Hairpin between the Richmond Racing Ginetta of Andreas Bostrom and the Nissan 350Z of Faithless front man Maxi Jazz caused the Ginetta retire and saw the Nissan heading back to the pits with rear end damage. The damage to the Nissan was extensive and it would not be patched up and on its way again until the last few laps of the race.
Mefcalfe carrying on from the good work done by his team mate crossed the line in the lead. A close battle in the closing stages saw Cullen get second and Simonsen take 3rd as Jones was forced to retire with suspension failure almost within sight of the chequrered flag.
The Brookspeed Viper was still struggling and even had a spin in the closing stages of the race. The viper pitted with brake problems but was able to get back out to gain one point at the finish.
Stewart Linn and Matt Nicol-Jones took the GT4 class win finishing over a lap ahead of Hunter Abbott and Rob Austin.