Simon Pullan & Rollcentre Racing win at Silverstone.
Simon Pullan and Rollcentre Racing stamped their authority on the British GT Championship at Silverstone over the Jubilee weekend, claiming their fourth victory of the season after a thrilling battle with the Veloqx Motorsport Ferrari.
Qualifying: 2nd in class, 7th overall: 1:23.056
Piloted by Martin Short, the Rollcentre Racing Xavex Texaco TVR Tuscan R enjoyed its traditional qualifying shoot out with Tim Sugden’s Porsche 911 on Saturday. Despite problems with a diff failure in testing, the Tuscan R ran faultlessly in qualifying trim. Sugden though was out to avenge his disappointing weekend on home soil at Croft two weeks ago and pushed his Porsche to the limit in the twenty minute session. Once again, Short was the best of the rest in second place, less than a second behind the pole sitter.
Race: 1st in class, 6th overall
In the car for his usual first stint, Pullan made a good getaway from the rolling start but from third in class, the Eclipse TVR Tuscan R benefited from running less success ballast than the Rollcentre machine and was able to pass Pullan on the drag down to Copse.
With Lynch racing ahead into the GTO class lead, Pullan settled in behind the Veloqx Motorsport Ferrari, shadowing Calum Lockie and followed by the Pudwell/Greensall Stealth B6 GT car.
Fully dialled into the car by lap five, Pullan cruised on to the tail of a fierce four way battle for eighth position at Woodcote. Nose to tail, the gaggle of cars continued to run in close formation for much of the next two laps. With no one car able to consolidate an advantage, Pullan was ideally placed to pounce when Lockie's Ferrari succumbed to handling problems at certain points on the circuit. Using every available inch of track, he positioned his Tuscan R on the inside line at Copse on lap seven and was soon a second clear of the former champion.
"I was sat in the perfect place to watch the battle for the lead of GTO unfold in front of me," Pullan commented. "I was content not to get involved and risk excessively wearing the tyres so I settled in behind and kept my times consistent. The guys in front seemed to be locking tyres quite a lot and I was able to make a clean move on Calum when he started to slow with an oversteer problem."
Thirteen minutes into the race and more than three seconds clear of the Ferrari, Pullan set about closing down the gap to fellow TVR Tuscan R runners, Lynch and Piers Johnson. Within two seconds of the GTO leader at the end of lap thirteen, Pullan elected to preserve the tyres for the second half of the race. He stayed out of the two way tussle for the class lead and peeled into the pits from third in class to hand over to Short.
Gunning the car out of the pits twelve and a half seconds later, Short rejoined the track and was soon scrapping with the Eclipse car for second. With Ben McLoughlin taking over the reins of the TVR Tuscan R one lap after the Rollcentre changeover, Short had the benefit of a stronger track position and used it to maximum effect.
When McLoughlin retired with a blown engine just minutes into his stint, Short reeled in the erstwhile class leader, Piers Johnson. With Johnson eventually pitting on lap twenty two, Short took over the GTO lead and was soon posting fastest lap after fastest lap.
Behind Short, Jamie Davies had taken over the mantle of second in GTO. Despite Lockie's earlier handling problems, Davies threw the Ferrari around the 2.2 mile circuit, taking chunks out of Short's eleven second lead as the clock ticked towards the sixty minute mark. A sizzling battle raged for the remainder of the race with Davies nose to tail with the Rollcentre car for much of the final five laps. Despite Davies' best efforts, the TVR Tuscan R had the measure of the Ferrari and Short crossed the line just centimetres ahead of his pursuer to claim victory number four.
"Martin's defence of the lead when under pressure from Jamie Davies was astounding to watch," Pullan said. "It's all thanks to Martin that we won today."
"It would have been nice to have a TVR 1-2-3 as looked possible at one point in the race but we aren't too disappointed that the Ferrari came second, although they are our closest championship rivals at the moment. It keeps things interesting if they stick with us and I anticipate there will be many more battles to come as the season progresses."
"I'm ecstatic that we have come through the most intense part of the season with a healthy championship lead. Two wins in succession and four victories overall is a great platform to build on for the rest of the year."