Debut win for revieved Ecurie Ecosse squad in British GT opener
The new British GT campaign kicked off at Oulton Park on Easter Monday with a last-gasp lead change in the opening run and a dominant display in race two.
Race 1: Ecurie Ecosse Takes Debut Win at Oulton Park
Dramatic final lap as UA Audi drops from lead with fuel issue.
On a rain drenched Oulton Park International circuit, the Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 claimed a debut victory in a dramatic hour-long race.
The new British GT entrant had looked set to claim a spot on the second step of the podium, but as the leading United Autosports Audi R8 of Charles Bateman and Matt Bell set out on its final lap of the 2.69 mile International layout, the car slowed to a halt with a suspected fuel supply issue.
Having led the previous 59 minutes of the 32-lap race it was a crushing blow for the pole-setting duo, who could only watch from the sidelines as their seemingly unassailable lead evaporated to fifteenth spot by the time the BMW collected the chequered flag.
Also benefiting from the demise of the United Autosports R8, Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen in the Rosso Verde 458 took an immediate promotion to second spot, with the Mtech Ferrari of Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron also claiming an unlikely position on the podium.
That said, it was no easy task for the Mtech duo, who had to battle their way through the field when Griffin took over driving duties in sixth, for the final 35 minutes. After dispatching the RJN Motorsport Nissan GTR of Jann Mardenborough and Alex Buncombe, old rivalries were reignited as Griffin was faced with the Preci Spark Mercedes of twins Godfrey & David Jones. Sniffing an opportunity through turn one, Old Hall, the pair entered side-by-side, before making contact that resulted in the SLS Mercedes taking a trip across the grass and dropping to an eventual seventh place finish.
Although Trackspeed's Richard Westbrook stayed glued to the tail of the Mtech 458 Ferrari, the WEC regular was unable to find away past the Ulsterman and had to settle for fourth position, ahead of the Mardenborough-Buncombe Nissan GTR. Capitalising on the incident between the Griffin Ferrari and Jones Mercedes, Danielle Perfetti & Michael Caine took sixth spot. Rounding out the top ten, the Hetherington's claimed eighth position in the second Nissan GTR run by the JMH team, with the Beechdean Aston Martin of Andrew Howard and Jonathan Adam three-tenths behind. In tenth was the Trackspeed Porsche of Jon Minshaw and Tim Harvey.
Trackspeed's Ashburn and Westbrook Dominate Race Two
Duo take wet race win by twenty-seven seconds, as Ferraris Struggle to Keep Pace.
In a dominant display of 'endurance' racing, Richard Westbrook and David Ashburn collected their first win of the 2012 Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
Starting from pole-position, Westbrook powered the Porsche 997RS into an early lead, pulling away from the pack as the safety car headed to pit lane. Unheeded by trailing spray, the ALMS racer soon created a gap of several seconds over the Mtech Ferrari 458 of Matt Griffin and Rosso Verde model driven by Alan Simonsen. While Westbrook set about creating an unassailable lead, the Griffin and Simonsen cars fought out their own duel, with the Dane taking the second position 14 laps in.
Once the pit-stop window had been open for several minutes Westbrook headed in, followed by Simonsen, then Griffin, and once they'd handed over driving duties to their co-drivers, David Ashburn, Hector Lester and Duncan Cameron respectively, their 1-2-3 spots remained the same.
However, by the time the 'pit-stop-shuffle' had been completed, Ashburn held a lead of 26 seconds, as the pair of Ferrari's dealt with traffic and incidents on their out-laps. This played into the hands of Jon Minshaw, who had taken to the drivers seat following Tim Harvey's stint in the sister Trackspeed Porsche and had now joined the battle for the final podium spots.
While Ashburn maintained the lead at 27-30 seconds, the Lester, Cameron and Minshaw trio remained nose to tail until the closing laps of the hour long race.
With just two tours remaining, Lester in the Rosso Verde Ferrari had managed to keep Cameron's Mtech 458 and the Trackspeed Porsche at bay. Then in a controversial move, the Irishman was sent plummeting down the order. Approaching Old Hall, Cameron thought he spotted an opportunity for a late dive on the inside of the turn, but with Lester holding his position an inevitable collision took place, sending Lester spinning towards the outside tyre wall.
Fortunately the Rosso Verde Team principal was able to recover with only superficial damage, but dropped ten places in the process, ending the race in twelfth spot. This handed the podium spots to Cameron and Minshaw, who dutifully accepted the promotion to second and third.
Improving on their sixth place finish in race one, Danielle Perfetti and Michael Caine secured fourth position for the Motorbase Porsche at the chequered flag following a pit strategy that saw them swap driving roles within a few laps of the pit-window opening. Although the United Autosports Audi R8 of Matt Bell and Charles Bateman started from the back of the grid following a qualifying infringement (passing under yellow flags), the pair were able to work their way through the field to claim a top-five finish; it provided a tonic from their first race of the weekend, where they ran out of fuel on the final lap whilst leading.
Another duo charging their way through the pack was the Motorbase Porsche of Nick Tandy and Steve Parrish, who also started at the back of the pack (following mechanical failure in qualifying) to finish in sixth position. Under the stewardship of Tandy, the 997 had gained 10 positions in the opening two laps, and by the time Parrish took over the GT3 car was up to seventh and gained a further promotion when Lester dropped down the order on the penultimate lap.
Making it two top-ten finishes in as many races, brothers Freddie and Benji Hetherington brought the JMH Nissan GTR home in seventh, ahead of the Joe Osborne and Steve Townend Trackspeed entry – a positive result for the Porsche pair who struggled with set-up, traction control and ABS issues throughout the weekend. Despite an early off-track excursion the Preci Spark Mercedes of twins Godfrey & David Jones was able to recover to secure ninth, beating the Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 of Oliver Bryant & Alasdair McCaig that had claimed it's debut victory earlier in the day.
Watch British GT action on Motors TV throughout 2012.
Published 10/04/2012 16:43
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[British GT news]
Securing their first win of the 2012 Avon Tyres British GT Championship, Jonathan Adam and Andrew Howard capitalised on a pit-stop error by the RJN Motorsport team to put their Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage on the top step of the podium in the first race at the Nurburgring, before Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron also claimed their maiden win of the season in race two.