TWO HOUR SNETTERTON STRUGGLE FOR ELLIS & MORTIMER
Croydon's Bradley Ellis and Team RPM team mate Alex Mortimer (Stoneleigh, Warwickshire) experienced a string of disasters and a plentiful dose of bad luck, in round five of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Snetterton, Norfolk, on Sunday 3 June. Despite showing impressive pace and stunning performances from both drivers, Ellis and Mortimer battled against the odds to finish 10th.
The Team RPM Dodge Viper showed promising form in qualifying on Saturday to secure sixth on the grid for the two-hour race on Sunday. Running for the first time on the same Avon Tyre as the Aston Martins, Team RPM were nearly able to match their pace. From the start of practice on Sunday, however, it was apparent lady luck wasn't smiling on Ellis and Mortimer. On only the second lap, Ellis suffered differential and drive shaft failure.
With the car repaired, Ellis was unfortunate to get a puncture on his out lap en route to the grid for the race and had to return to the pits. After starting from the pitlane, Ellis suffered severe loss of power on the first lap and he was again forced back to the Team RPM garage. The mechanics worked hard to get Ellis back out on track, and he rejoined in 21st and last place, one lap down.
The 19 year-old immediately set about making up for lost time and proceeded to clock up one flying lap after another. His stunning form ensured he picked his way through the field and, with the exception of the four front runners, virtually un-lapped himself.
What appeared to be an electrical fault arose after 40 minutes but Ellis managed to drive around the problem and scythed his way past 11 cars and was lying in 10th when the team called him to pit twenty minutes later. On his in lap, however, the electrical problem got worse and the car switched off on the entrance to the pitlane. In a tremendous effort, Ellis had no choice but to push his Dodge Viper down the entire length of the Snetterton pitlane, to deliver the car safely to the Team RPM garage.
The car refused to restart as Mortimer took the wheel and once again Team RPM pulled out all the stops to locate the problem. With the race raging on without them, a faulty ECU was diagnosed, replaced with a spare, and Mortimer joined the race five laps down.
Although matching Ellis' blistering pace, Mortimer now had little chance of finishing in a points paying position. Quicker than the majority of the field, Mortimer did a valiant job of trying to un-lap himself. The 10th place finish, however, didn't truly reflect the duo's potential and unquestionable performance.
"It's been quite an unbelievable day! Alex and I were on top form this weekend but it just didn't happen for us," said Ellis. "Snetterton doesn't seem to be our luckiest track, as the same happened last year when we were quick in practice and qualifying but it all went wrong in the race.
"Unlucky doesn't really cover it today but we can take a lot of positives away from here. Alex and I were really strong and our mutual development of the car is paying dividends. We showed huge potential and we've got high hopes for the rest of the season."
Team RPM Principal Robin Mortimer commented: "It's been a hugely disappointing day with a myriad of problems but Brad drove fantastically and did everything he possibly could. In terms of personal effort he couldn't have done more, he qualified well and drove a storming first stint. He had everything possible thrown at him yet still managed to pull back almost a complete lap and he was consistently the second quickest car throughout the majority of the first stint."