ELLIS DELIVERS AT DONINGTON PARK
Croydon's Bradley Ellis drove a superb race at Donington Park on Sunday 21 May to help secure third place in the Championship for Team RPM in round three of the GTC class of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship. Periods of heavy rain made for an action-packed two-hour endurance thriller at the challenging Leicestershire track but the partnership of Ellis with Alex Mortimer delivered a third place GTC class finish and an impressive sixth overall.
With tenth on the grid secured in qualifying on Saturday, Ellis was set to make his second ever British GT start on a rather wet Donington track in his Porsche 996. An excellent start saw the 18-year-old pull level with Jonny Lang. Racing side by side through Redgate, Ellis passed Lang to lie second in the GTC class. At the Old Hairpin, however, Ellis collided with a GT3 Aston Martin, which then spun directly in front of him.
The altercation allowed Lang and Phil Quaife through, but Ellis was quick to make up ground. With Lang slipping past Quaife, Ellis pushed hard to rejoin the battle. Despite struggling with poor front end grip, due to the tracking being damaged in the opening lap incident, Ellis managed to take Quaife going into the Chicane to re-gain second in class, seventh overall.
Just as the leading GTC class trio of Lang, Ellis and Quaife hit the 20-minute marker, Lang collided with another GT3 Aston Martin, spinning the car and sending it into Ellis' path, forcing him onto the grass at Coppice Corner. Unfortunately, the former karting champion was unable to rejoin the race until the entire field had gone through.
As the rain stopped, the track became greasy, but Ellis managed to steadily pick his way back through the field. With the one-hour mark looming, the track seemed to be drying, but Team RPM took the decision to keep Ellis out, as he felt confident he could push. The move paid off as Ellis pulled into the pits after one hour and ten minutes, to hand the wheel to team-mate Mortimer, 10th overall and fifth in class.
With the fuel topped up, Team RPM made the brave move not to change tyres and remain on wets as Mortimer rejoined the race still fifth in class. Despite initially struggling as the tyres came up to temperature, Mortimer soon began to put in some blinding laps as the rain began to pour once again. As other cars struggled on intermediates and had to re-pit, Mortimer pushed on.
After just eight laps, Mortimer had closed the 20-second gap to the fourth placed GTC car, Nigel Greensall's Ferrari 360, to just 12 seconds. However, the safety car was called out and picked up the leader, just in front of Mortimer, allowing Greensall to power round to the end of the pack, destroying Mortimer's hard work and increasing the gap to over a minute.
Following the three-lap safety car period, the race resumed with 15-minutes to go. Despite being passed by Luke Hines in the Panoz and Godfrey Jones in the Porsche 996 RSR, Mortimer pulled away from the clutches of Matt Allison, lying fourth in class. Mortimer continued his form to finish sixth overall and third in the GTC class, with Ellis and Mortimer lying third and fourth respectively in the GTC Drivers' Championship.
"This is a fantastic result to back up the two fourth-place finishes we delivered at the first two rounds at Oulton Park," said Ellis. "I was pleased with my start and my performance overall. I also feel that we are even stronger as a team. Alex and I are a close pairing now in terms of lap times and I think we are looking good for the future."
Team RPM Principle Robin Mortimer commented: "I am amazed at how Bradley has raised his game since the first two rounds and it has given us a real competitive edge. I am confident that we can now challenge for podiums at each remaining round and consistency will be key to winning the championship."
Ellis will travel to France to tackle the Pau circuit for the first time on 5 June, for rounds four and five of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.