GT DEBUTANT METCALFE IMPRESSES DURING OPENING ROUND Avon Tyres British GT Championship rookie Jeremy Metcalfe made a superb impression during the opening round of the 2008 season at Oulton Park International Circuit today, the 19-year-old all...
GT DEBUTANT METCALFE IMPRESSES DURING OPENING ROUND
Avon Tyres British GT Championship rookie Jeremy Metcalfe made a superb impression during the opening round of the 2008 season at Oulton Park International Circuit today, the 19-year-old all set for a podium finish on his category debut until an unfortunate gearbox problem arose during the compulsory pit-stops.
In sunny yet bitterly cold conditions, the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) 'Rising Star' qualified his CR Scuderia run Ferrari 430 GT3 in fourth position with a time of 1m 41.284 seconds (95.68mph). This would become third on the grid though when the Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper was excluded from qualifying after failing a ride-height check.
Handling the first rolling start of his racing career well, Fleet-based Jeremy maintained third position into the first corner after fending off the advances of Oliver Morley in the Tech 9 Lamborghini Gallardo.
Before the end of lap one, the Safety Car emerged onto the track following an accident at Dentons involving the Team Modena Lamborghini. The re-start came on lap five and with the top three all running in close quarters, a dream result certainly looked on the cards for Jeremy and team-mate Luke Hines.
Following a problem for the race-leading CRS Ferrari shared by Michael Meadows and James Sutton, Jeremy moved into second place on lap six. Just two laps later though, red flags were shown following a sickening crash on the run to Cascades involving the Team Modena Lamborghini Gallardo and the Rob Austin entered Ginetta G50 GT4.
Re-started as a 30 minute race, Jeremy began in second position alongside the CRS Ferrari of Paddy Shovlin and Michael Cullen. Once again under pressure from the Tech 9 Lamborghini, the Hampshire racer maintained excellent composure and proceeded to pull out a gap of three seconds over the third placed car on the opening lap alone.
Setting his personal best race lap on the second tour, Jeremy then set the fastest lap of the race at that point with a time of 1m 43.061 seconds on lap three. Shovlin went quicker on laps four and five before Jeremy hit back on lap six with a time of 1m 42.131 seconds, closing to within just six 10ths of a second of the Irishman.
Both of the front-running CRS Ferraris pitted at the end of lap seven for their compulsory stops and with a podium finish for the Metcalfe-Hines partnership looking comfortably within reach, a gearbox problem meant the car couldn't rejoin the race. Delayed for over 20 seconds, Hines eventually rejoined in 15th position and ended the race in 10th place.
"I really enjoyed the race today, the car was mint to drive and without the gearbox problem we'd have been in with a fantastic chance of a podium finish", said Jeremy, "It's a shame but we proved we have the pace to challenge at the front and I'm very pleased with my own performance too. The CR Scuderia guys prepare an amazing car.
"Qualifying went well although I'm confident I could have started on the front row if it wasn't for traffic on my last couple of laps. After I set my best time I wasn't able to improve due to being held up a few times. It's unfortunate not to have scored points today but I've certainly enjoyed my debut in British GT."
While Jeremy qualified for today's race, team-mate Hines handled qualifying duties during the round two session and his best time of 1m 41.393 seconds (95.58mph) placed the exquisite No.16 Ferrari in 12th position on the grid. The second encounter will take place on Easter Monday, 24th March, at approximately 13.10.
Extensive highlights of the opening race meeting of the 2008 championship will receive their first screening on digital satellite and cable channel Motors TV on Saturday, 5th April, at 18.00. Please check listings for information regarding subsequent re-runs.