Challenging Return to Racing for Ellis in Germany Croydon's Bradley Ellis made a brave return to racing on 5&6 July for the FIA GT3 European rounds at Oschersleben, Germany, less than a week after a serious accident at Thruxton (UK) left him...
Challenging Return to Racing for Ellis in Germany
Croydon's Bradley Ellis made a brave return to racing on 5&6 July for the FIA GT3 European rounds at Oschersleben, Germany, less than a week after a serious accident at Thruxton (UK) left him with a compression fracture to the sixth vertebra. Despite his impressive recovery and determination to get back in the race seat, Ellis and team mate Alex Mortimer endured a challenging weekend that left the Matech duo without scoring championship points. Although Mortimer was taken out at the first corner while leading round five and brake failure ruined their round six chances, Ellis remains third and Mortimer forth in the title fight.
Since the duo's double win at Monza, the Matech Ford GT was given a further 70kilos of ballast, taking the total to a whopping 140kilos. Unsurprisingly this massive penalty was more than a burden and the pair struggled under the excessive weight.
Just four days after being discharged from hospital following his serious accident in the Ginetta G50 contesting the Avon Tyres British GT round last Sunday, 29 June, Ellis was cleared by doctors and took the wheel of the Ford GT on Friday. Practice was also the first chance for both drivers to familiarise themselves with the challenging German circuit.
Following over-night rain, a damp track greeted Mortimer for qualifying where he finished fifth fastest with 1:31.996. As the sun came out, track and tyre temperatures rose to deliver a quicker second session where Ellis managed 10th fastest with a time of 1:31.363.
The sun was shining on Saturday afternoon as the lights went green for round five and Mortimer made a brilliant start from the third row to take the lead in to the first corner but chaos reined entering Hotel corner. On the outside from turn one, Christopher Haase (GER) in the Lamborghini made contact with Marcello Zani (ITA) in the Aston Martin, sandwiching Zani against Mortimer.
Disastrously, the Aston Martin's body work locked with the rear of the Ford GT, spearing Mortimer across the grass and into the tyre wall on the inside of Hotel. With damaged steering and tracking to the Ford GT, Mortimer's race was run. With the top five championship contenders also failing to score points, the standings thankfully remained unchanged with Ellis third and Mortimer fourth.
With repairs complete to the Ford GT, including a new steering arm, Ellis took to the grid for round six on Sunday. With Saturday's first corner melee in mind, Ellis made a sensible start to finish lap one in 13th and soon got in the groove to pick off places up to 11th by the end of lap five. With tenth-placed Dino Lunardi (FRA) in his sights, Ellis cut the Frenchman's one-second advantage to just four tenths the following lap but, as the Brit began to challenge, the Ford GT suffered brake failure.
Consequently, Ellis had to brake 100-150 metres early, allowing Nicki Cadei (ITA) past on lap eight. Despite the problem, Ellis did a valiant job of staying in the fray and even re-took Cadei following a mistake from the Italian, to regain 11th place on lap 11. But as the brake situation failed to improve Ellis had little choice in dropping to 13th.
Diving into the pits to complete the driver change, Mortimer joined the race on lap 16, just as the safety car was called out on track and picked up the field in front of the number 21 Ford GT. Instead of being allowed past the safety car to circulate and take up his correct track position, Mortimer was kept behind effectively putting the Matech pairing one lap down as other teams took the advantage to pit.
When the safety car finally came in there was little Mortimer could do, with no brakes and 140kilos of ballast on board, to improve his position and the Ford GT finished 17th.
"After all the struggle and effort to actually get to Germany and be allowed to race at Oschersleben, it's been a bit of a disappointing weekend," said Ellis. "We didn't come here aiming to win but to consolidate our championship position and score some points. As it turns out, most of the top championship contenders also suffered non-point scoring finishes, which still leaves me third and Alex fourth. It felt good to be back in a racecar but now I can look forward to resting until the next rounds at Brno in September."
Arnaud Peyroles (FRA) and James Ruffier (FRA) lead the FIA GT3 European Championship standings with 29 points, just three ahead of Ian Khan (GBR) and Thomas Mutsch (GER). With Ellis on 22 points and Mortimer on 20, the championship-fight will continue to rage at Brno on 13&14 September.