WRATHALL TAKES FIRST WIN OF 2010 AT ROCKINGHAM Dynojet's Frank Wrathall extended his lead in the 2010 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup with an assured victory during the fourth round of the season at Rockingham in Northamptonshire this afternoon, ...
WRATHALL TAKES FIRST WIN OF 2010 AT ROCKINGHAM
Dynojet's Frank Wrathall extended his lead in the 2010 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup with an assured victory during the fourth round of the season at Rockingham in Northamptonshire this afternoon, Saturday, 24th April.
Although securing maximum points in rounds one and two at Thruxton three weeks ago, the Preston driver had to give best on track to 'VIP' guest competitor -- and FIA World Touring Car Championship race winner -- Rob Huff during the season opener. Therefore, today's win is Wrathall's first visit to the top step of the podium this year.
Edging out Total Control Racing's Carl Breeze in qualifying to take pole position by a mere 0.076 seconds, the 23-year-old produced an impressive lights-to-flag performance to win by just over a second from his chief rival. The Safety Car was deployed for a couple of laps during the early part of the race but Wrathall handled it well and never put a wheel wrong on his way to a fine win.
He commented: "Rockingham is a difficult place to pass and once you're out front, if you manage to get a small gap you can control the race to some extent as long as you don't make any mistakes. It was so important to get the start right, get the lead at the first corner and then have a good first lap which I managed to do.
"For the Safety Car I knew I could hopefully get a good break out of the last chicane at the re-start, this track enables you to do that. After that I got back into the same rhythm and didn't make any mistakes so I'm absolutely delighted. Hopefully we can repeat this tomorrow."
Wrathall and Breeze had an advantage of around a quarter of a second over the rest of the field in qualifying with Benji Hetherington third fastest, Chris Dittmann fourth, Matt Bell fifth and Alice Powell rounding out the top six with an impressive display. Rockingham 'guest' driver Kieran Vernon, a former Ginetta G20 competitor and current UK Formula Ford Championship racer, was seventh.
The front-row qualifiers made equally strong starts to hold grid order through Turn One while behind, CDR driver Dittmann mounted an early challenge on third placed Hetherington although the Century Motorsport racer managed to hold on to his position.
Into lap two, Wrathall held an advantage of eight 10ths of a second over Breeze with Hetherington third, Dittmann fourth, Vernon up to fifth, Bell sixth, Tom Sharp in seventh -- up from 11th place on the grid -- and Powell in eighth. The latter's race, however, was over just a lap later when contact with Aaron Williamson resulted in an immediate retirement at Yentwood.
Following a short Safety Car period, racing resumed on lap seven and Wrathall judged the re-start well to eke out an advantage over Breeze and Hetherington. Into Deene Hairpin though, the battle over fourth between Dittmann, Bell and Vernon resulted in all three cars making contact and their individual hopes were all wiped out on the spot with instant retirements.
This allowed Sharp to move up to fourth with Adam Morgan fifth, a superb drive from 12th on the grid, Dane Joachim Ritter in sixth, the TCR man equally impressive having risen from 13th place, and reigning Ginetta G20 Champion Mark Davies in seventh position, up from 15th spot.
During the final few laps, the race settled down with the only change near the front coming when Davies grabbed sixth place off Ritter at Tarzan Hairpin on the 10th tour. Seventh was still a great finish for Ritter though and especially deserved considering he had to drive across Europe from his home in Switzerland to be at Rockingham -- no flight possible due to the Icelandic volcano!
At the chequered flag on lap 12, Wrathall led home Breeze by 1.2 seconds but the TCR man secured the bonus point for fastest lap with a time of 1m24.033 seconds. Hetherington took his first podium of 2010 in third place ahead of Sharp, Morgan, Davies, Ritter and Chairman's Cup victor Colin White.
Speaking on his second podium visit of the season, which lifts him into second position in the driver standings, Breeze said: "Before the Safety Car I think we'd got the legs on Frank (Wrathall), I set the fastest lap and we were starting to close up on him a little bit. The Safety Car gave him a chance to control the pace though and open up a few car lengths on me.
"It was an even race, we both had the legs on the rest of the field, and it was really just a case of who made it away at the start in the lead. The car is working well and everyone at TCR is doing a fantastic job. Hopefully I can get a better start tomorrow and win but if we can get consistently good points in both of Sunday's races I'll be happy."
Rounds five and six of the 2010 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup will take place at Rockingham tomorrow, Sunday, 25th April, at 10.00 and 15.15 respectively. Check television listings for details of coverage on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4. Wrathall will start from pole position with Breeze second on the grid, Hetherington and Sharp on row two and Morgan and Davies on row three.
Provisional 2010 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup Championship Positions (after Rd4): 1st Frank Wrathall, 127pts; 2nd Carl Breeze, 109pts; 3rd Chris Dittmann, 86pts; 4th Benji Hetherington, 75pts; 5th Matt Bell, 73pts; 6th Tom Sharp, 68pts