Solid third for Pullan and short at Rockingham.
GTO Race Report: Round Eight, Rockinghm

British GTO Championship point leaders Simon Pullan and Martin Short extended their advantage over closest rival Tim Sugden in round eight of the championship at Rockingham on Sunday despite dramas in qualifying and a stop-go penalty in the race.

Qualifying: 3rd in class, 7th overall: 1:42.943

Although a gearbox problem at the start of Saturday qualifying meant that the Rollcentre Racing Xavex Texaco TVR Tuscan R was forced to relinquish its stranglehold on the front row of the GTO grid, team boss Martin Short was still able to claim a fighting third in class after firing the car around the circuit in the final minutes of the session.

Race: 3rd in class, 6th overall

Lightening quick reactions saw Lincolnshire's Simon Pullan launch the Rollcentre TVR Tuscan off the line just fractions of a second too early at the start of round eight. Having scathed his way through the grid in the first few minutes of the race, trading positions with the second placed GTO Ferrari before staking a claim on third overall, Pullan was called into the pits and penalised for his earlier mistake with a costly stop-go penalty.

With the better part of the sixteen car field streaming past the pit-bound TVR, Pullan was finally allowed to rejoin the circuit agonising seconds later to face the Herculean task of clawing back a top three position.

Despite having had very few laps on the circuit prior to race day, the 19-year-old reigning Caterham EuroCup champion showed his mettle from that point on, keeping his head down and foot hard on the accelerator for the remainder of his stint. Carefully picking his way through the field with a clutch of decisive passing manoeuvres and a series of fast laps, Pullan was one of the last drivers to pit for the mandatory changeover.

Having held off swapping drivers until the final possible moment, the Rollcentre pit crew pulled off a lightening change -- timed as their fastest of the season- to send Martin Short out second in class.

Although Short gained time in the pits, the earlier penalty and subsequent chase through the race order had allowed GTO leaders Calum Lockie and Jamie Davies to build an insurmountable thirty-second advantage. A late race battle between Short and EMKA Porsche driver Tim Sugden for second in GTO was eventually settled in Sugden's favour, leaving Short third in class and sixth overall.

"We had a very exciting race," Pullan said. "The problem with the gearbox lever in qualifying obviously wasn't ideal because we could have gone faster given more time but on the other hand, it could have been worse and at least it left the tyres fresh for the race.

"I jumped the start by the smallest possible margin. It was a disappointing beginning because I'd made up three places before being passed by the Veloqx Ferrari. I got him back when he ran wide on the following lap but I then got a call on the radio telling me to come into the pits for jumping the start.

"I wanted to get back into the hunt for top GTO points when I rejoined the circuit so I stayed out until the final minutes of the driver change window, trying to make up places and hand the car over to Martin ready for a final dash to the flag.

"Martin had a few handling problems set in towards the end which unfortunately coincided with Tim Sugden's best period of the race but we're happy with third and with our thirty point advantage in the GTO standings.

"Rockingham is a fantastic circuit and a pleasure to drive. The organisers did a great job with the layout, building the circuit in the middle of the oval. The last corner in particular was great fun to drive flat out -- it really gets the pulse racing!"

-spr/ra-