Race 1 The Avon Tyres British GT championship headed to the 2.7 mile Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire, England, for the opening rounds of this popular and action packed series. While the forecasts predicted snow the weather on Saturday (the ...
The Avon Tyres British GT championship headed to the 2.7 mile Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire, England, for the opening rounds of this popular and action packed series.
While the forecasts predicted snow the weather on Saturday (the 22nd March) was dry as air filled with the sound of the thunderous GT cars bursting into life for race one.
The scheduled one hour race started with Michael Meadows in the number 14 CR Scuderia Ferrari 430 leading the field from pole position in his first British GT race, but the drama was not far away. Meadows made a good start and lead the field around old hall corner and sped down the avenue and Dentons on the way to the sweeping cascades corner.
In the field Piers Johnson's Team Modena Lamborghini was squeezed onto the grass at Dentons spinning round and ploughing into the tyre wall, the car rolled on the grass in a cloud of dirt and debris. Johnson emerged from the heavily damaged car unscathed but his weekend was clearly over. The incident immediately brought out the safety car and marshals struggled to clear the debris from the track.
After just one competitive lap and a further three laps behind the safety car the racing got underway with Meadows continuing to lead the field ahead of the fellow team mates from the CR Scuderia Team, Paddy Shovlin and Jeremy Metcalfe.
The three CR Scuderia Ferrari's set about establishing a commanding lead over the chasing pack but the early dominance was short lived and Meadows in the leading Number.14 Ferrari locked the wheels at the Hislop chicane, straight lining the section, The GT3 430 Ferrari GT3 evidentially suffering brake problems limped to the pits to an inevitable early retirement.
Meanwhile James Gornall in the number 40 Brookspeed Trimite Dodge Viper was making his way through the pack after being out of position following a qualifying penalty due to an illegal ride height. His charge was also destined to end in retirement after selecting the wrong gear in the Viper while attempting a pass and over revving the mighty V10 engine causing inevitable damage.
The field was now headed by Paddy Shovlin and Jeremy Metcalfe who gained first and second respectfully, with the Tech 9 Lamborghini of Oliver Morley in third.
Behind the main pack Hunter Abbot in the number 55 Rob Austin Racing Ginetta G50 was battling with Peter Snowden in the number 63 Chad Racing Aston Martin N24, the pair powered down the start finish straight side by side and were still together on the fast downhill section to cascades.
As the pair tussled, Abbott's Ginetta G50 slid off the track ploughing heavily into the safety barrier. The Ginetta then flipped over loosing much of its fibreglass bodywork, before flying into the air and hitting the top of the barrier. The car then rolled several times hitting the barrier again before the fuel ignited causing a huge fireball.
The car then came to rest upside down on the wrong side of the barrier still burning. To the relief of the stunned crowd Abbott fought his way out of the burning wreckage as the marshals struggled to control the flames.
Amazingly after such a huge crash Abbot walked away suffering just minor burns to his hands and face.
The race was red flagged straight away and would not be restarted for 30 minutes. On the restart the cars restarted from the grid with the remaining entrants starting from their pre-stoppage positions.
Paddy Shovlin in the CR Scuderia Ferrari 430 to lead the field out ahead of team-mate Jeremy Metcalfe with Phil Burton in the VRS Motor Finance Ferrari 430 and Hector Lester in the Christians in Motorsport Ferrari 430 in hot pursuit.
In the compulsory driver change pitstop it was the Jeremy Metcalfe / Luke Hines pairing that would loose out. Hines encountered gear selection problems and lost over a minute and any chance of a race win.
With the stop over Michael Cullen taking over from Shovlin continued to lead in the Number 15 CR Scuderia Ferrari, ahead of Adam Wilcox in the VRS Motor Finance car. The incident filled race was shortened to 30 minutes and the positions remained unchanged. Cullen took the chequered flag and the first victory of the season for CR Scuderia.
In the GT4 class extended stay in the pits for Stewart Linn in the number 88 IMS Motorsport Ginetta gave the victory to Michael Broadhurst in the number 51 Team RPM Ginetta G50.
The bank holiday race meeting continued on the Monday (the 24th March). The so called rest day in between was no rest for the teams as the battle scarred cars were readied for the instalment.
The field once again roared into the first corner, as the pack rounded old hall corner Aaron Scott in the ABG Motorsport Dodge Viper and Michael Bentwood in the 22GT Aston Martin DBRS9 touched which sent the pair onto the grass.
Bentwood's Aston Martin rejoined unscathed but Scott's viper was not so lucky, the excursion damaged the floor pan and he would later be called into the pits by officials to effect repairs.
Another Dodge Viper in the wars was Team RPM's No.7 car with Jason Templeman driving, he also destined to return to the pits putting him several laps behind.
With the opening lap drama's over Allan Simonsen in the Christians in Motorsport Ferrari 430 created a commanding lead over the rest of the field.
With Simonsen on his own at the front the battle for second between Tom Ferrier in the Tech 9 Lamborghini Gallardo and the Trackspeed Porsche 997 of Richard Williams raged. The pair traded paint around the twisty sections of the track with Simonsen just about holding off the hard fighting Porsche.
Adam Wilcox in the VRS Motor Finance Ferrari 430 closely followed the fighting pair in fourth. Unfortunately he would not stay there and the car later retired with mechanical problems.
The number 40 Brookspeed Trimite Dodge Viper was yet again to start from the back due to the ride height infringement in qualifying. Jon Barnes sliced through the field and was up to 10th for the pitstop. The pitstops window came and went and while most of the cars came in for the compulsory driver change, leader Simonsen missed it. His early lead of the race evaporated away when the race officials gave the team 20 second stop go penalty. Team mate Hector Lester, having just taken over the car, had to come in again on the next lap. The error almost certainly cost the pair their first win of the season.
Morley in the Tech 9 Lamborghini inherited the lead and stayed there. David Ashburn now in the Trackspeed Porsche kept up the pressure but the Porsche 997 pushed too hard and a detour through the gravel trap at Cascades let the Lamborghini get away.
Michael Meadows in the number 14 CRS Ferrari 430 took second place but could not get near enough to Morley to challenge for the win.
Steve Clark in the number 1 Team RPM Viper took 3rd, with Paddy Shovlin in the number 15 CRS Ferrari in 4th place.
The next meeting for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship will be held at the Scottish Knockhill circuit on the 12th and 13th of April.