Wednesday, 11 April 2012

British GT opening weekend review (summary)

The 2012 British GT Championship kicked off at a wet Oulton Park with two one hour races on Easter Monday.

Charles Bateman and Matt Bell's Untited Autosports Audi R8 LMS started from pole for race one and dominated most of the race. However, the pair didn't take the win, technical problems forcing them to pull off on the last lap allowed the BMW Z4 of Ecurie Ecosse to take the win on their first British GT outing in what is their first full season of competition since the 90s. In GT4, the WFR Ginetta G50 of Jody Fannin and Warren Huges was dominant, storming into the lead and holding the position until the end of the race.

The Beechdean Aston Martin of Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam struggled despite starting on the front row of the grid, going straight on at Hislops' surrendering positions. They eventually finished in ninth. electrical problems and other issues with the car hampered what looked like a promising weekend for the sole Aston Martin outfit. An off at Druids for the sole Chevrolet Corvette of Speedworks led to a safety car period. Retirement from the race for the local team after 25 of 32 laps later followed. GT Academy winner Jan Mardenborough looked promising in his first British GT race, finishing fith in the Nissan GTR he shared with Alex Buncombe. 2010 champion David Ashburn, sharing a Porsche 997 GT3 R with Richard Westbrook showed well with a fourth place finish and fastest lap of the race. the Ferrari 458s were alsop strong with the Rosso Verde 458 of Allan Simonsen and Hector Lester finishing second and the Mtech 458 of Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin coming home in third.

Race 2 began even wetter than race 1 with Richard Westbrook leading from the off. As with the United Autosports Audi in race one, Westbrook and Ashburn's Porsche dominated from pole, but unlike the Audi in race 1, the Trackspeed Porsche was able to go that little bit further and take the victory. Fastest lap was taken by Allan Simonsen in the Rosso Verde Ferrari but they were unable to challenge for a podium position after a spin from Hector Lester later int he race. Beechdean again had trouble with Jonny adam letting by the Rosso Verde Ferrari and the Mtech machine of Matt Griffin early on.

Westbrook's lead was reduced during the pit window, leading him and the Rosso Verde and Mtech Ferraris to pit. Despite Simonsen's fastest lap cutting down Westbrook's lead, the Porshe stayed ahead after David Ashburn took the wheel and kept the lead until the end. Despite starting from near the back of the field, the Audi of Matt Bell and Charles Bateman again showed fantastic pace, carving up the field and finishing in 5th place. Race one winners Ecurie Ecosse finished 10th with their BMW Z4.

In GT4, Warren Hughes and Jody Fannin again took the win with Phil Glew and Sailesh Bolisetti finishing in second (as they did in race one). Century Motorsport's tough weekend ended well with a 3rd place finish ing GT4 for Mike Simpson and Zoe Wenham.

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