British GT - Round 13, Donington Park
With the aid of a freshening wind and some watery sunshine, the support racers all circulating variously ahead of GT Qualifying dried the track out somewhat ready for the #3 Rosso Verde Ferrari 430 Scuderia of Allan Simonsen and Hector Lester to lead the cars out to set a time. The #3 car traded fastest laps throughout the session with the #2 MTECH Ferrari 430 Scuderia of Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin. This merry sparring was only interrupted toward the end of the 60 minutes when a charging Glynn Geddie looked to set down a marker and plonked the #7 Trackspeed Porsche 997 onto pole with seven minutes left on the clock. Cameron in the #2 car was first to respond by going quicker. Only to be followed shortly afterward by Simonsen hooking up the #3 car just as the session closed and claiming the top spot for Rosso Verde Racing with a 1:06.260
An unruly beginning to the race had six cars start from the pit lane. Amongst them the #4 RPM Ford GT and the #47 Century Ginetta G50, which conspired to take each other off on the first lap, the Ford rear-ending the Ginetta after getting braking all wrong on cold tires. At the head of the field Hector Lester's pole-sitter nerves must have gotten the better of him as his blocking moves off the line saw him rescind the lead to the #7 Trackspeed Porsche. Newly crowned season champ David Ashburn out-braked both Ferraris, taking the inside line into Turn 1. Lester in the #3 car got punted later in the lap and spun, leaving him last but one as he crossed the line for the first time. Ashburn was to hold the lead until Lap 10 when a light rain began falling and the circuit looked set to return to the dicey conditions seen in practice. This early rain saw the #12 Predator CCTV entered Ferrari 430 take a gamble on continuing rainfall and the team brought the car in for wet tires. This move was to effectively end their hopes of a good finish when the anticipated sustained rain didn’t materialize as only a light drizzly rain fell.
The first half-hour in brief: #3 & #2 Ferraris trade places at the front with the #7 Porsche, drawing out a 20 second lead over fourth place and the field; the #47 Ginetta visited the Century Motorsport pit twice to repair the Lap 1 damage; #52 Osborne Racing Ginetta back in the garage, retired; G4 class Champion Christian Dick's #48 Ginetta G50 needed towing from deep in the gravel trap at Redgate corner; and the beginning of a charge by Stuart Hall in the #14 Vantage Racing Aston Martin DBRS9 as he set back to back fastest laps.
Second half hour saw Vibe Smed beach her bright orange #47 Ginetta G50 in a dangerous position at the Old Hairpin bringing out the Safety Car and negating the 19 second lead steadily built up by Ben Hetherington in the #10 Chad Racing Ferrari. The re-start was kind to Hetherington as the Safety Car had collected the slower moving #4 Ford GT in between the #10 car and the #7 Porsche in second. The Ford GT subsequently held the field back and allowed the #10 car to easily rebuild its earlier lead. Stuart Hall continued to get his DBRS9 to sing, the #14 car setting another fastest lap and passing the #2 Ferrari to take third place and closing to within seven tenths of second position. Hall's efforts were rewarded on Lap 33 when he was underneath Ashburn's Porsche into Turn 1 to take second and ready to chase down the race leader as the Pit window opened on the following lap. Lap 37 saw yet another fastest lap from the #14 car circulating in 1:08.550 at a 105mph average.
The leading cars all stopped for driver changes, refuelling, and new tires on successive laps in the 40's. The exception was Hall in the #14 car, staying out looking to use its pace and a clear track to leap-frog the leader in the pit. What can be a sound strategy failed due to bad luck, the #14 car pitting on Lap 52, the hood off and the pit crew looking for the source of a failure in the power steering system. Unable to fix the problem new driver Tom Black, possibly musing on the prospect of muscling the big Aston round for 50 laps without assistance, ran over the air-line and stalled the engine.
By Lap 55 the pit stops were all completed and you could throw a blanket over the first three. The #7 Trackspeed Porsche of Glynn Geddie led the #10 Chad Racing Ferrari of Stephen Jelley by less than half a second and Matt Griffin's #2 MTECH entered Ferrari was only a further couple of tenths behind. The remainder of the top ten were: the #8 Rollcentre Racing's awesome Mosler a lap down on the leaders; Danish driver Allan Simonsen in the #3 Rosso Verde Ferrari; Stuart Hall's sterling work in the #14 car had been for naught as the Aston ran sixth; then came the trio of invitation class cars enveloping the ninth placed Ferrari, #98 KTM X-Bow, #97 Chevron GT, #12 Predator CCTV’s 430 Scuderia, and the #92 modified Ginetta entered by Speedworks in tenth position on the road.
After a fairly routine set of pit-stops for everyone bar Vantage Racing, things started to get interesting with a fired-up Allan Simonsen finding some real pace in the #3 Ferrari and intent on hunting down the leaders. Lap 59 saw Simon Jelley in the #10 Chad Racing Ferrari drive around the outside of Glynn Geddie’s #7 Porsche at Redgate to take the lead. The following #2 Ferrari had also had a look but dropped back through the Craner Curves after reporting gearbox issues and slowing. Laps 60 through 69 had the flying Dane reeling in the #8 Rollcentre Mosler with his #3 Ferrari, taking 4 seconds a lap out of the fast shrinking 25 second gap, before he was able to pass Gregor Fisken on Lap 69 at the Old Hairpin and begin gunning for the leaders a lap ahead.
Top Ten race order as we entered the final half hour of racing: #10, #7, #2, #3, #8, #14, #12, #97, #98, #4
Lap 74 saw Allan Simonsen set the fastest lap of the race at 1:07.074 and stay consistently in the low 1:07’s whereas the leaders were lapping in high 1:09’s and 1:10’s. Some quick pit-wall arithmetic by the Rosso Verde Team found that the #3 car needed approximately 8 laps to get onto the lead lap and 5 or 6 more to challenge Matt Griffin in the #2 car for the final podium spot. Up at the front, Jelley continued to pull away from the #7 Trackspeed Porsche 997 as Geddie appeared to settle for second place. Finishing anywhere ahead of the MTECH Ferrari would give Geddie sufficient points to finish second in the championship ahead of Griffin.
Drama on Lap 75 as two unscheduled pit-stops for the leading cars occurred. The Trackspeed Porsche made contact with another car and having picked up a puncture, pitted for tires. The race leader also coasted back into pit-lane having suffered a transmission fluid loss that left the driver unable to select a gear.
Having inherited the lead; Matt Griffin in a slowing bright red #2 car made a perfect target for Geddie and Simonsen. Geddie eager to overhaul the #2 car to take back his championship runner-up spot and for Simonsen as he sensed an opportunity. Simonsen continued to rack-up laps four seconds and more faster than those of the race leader. Lap 76 saw the #2 car have a gap back to the #7 car of just 0.954 seconds and thereafter 20.776 seconds back to the #3 car. More pit-wall arithmetic for the Rosso Verde team suggested that their car might challenge for the lead in 5 or 6 lap’s time. Geddie put the moves on Griffin on the following lap, with Griffin reporting that only 4th and 5th gears are available in the F430S.
Race Order on Lap 80: #7, #2, #3, #8, #14, #12, #97, #10, #98 with a likely 17 or 18 laps left to run, the light fades as twilight descends and a light rain begins to fall as the air temperature drops.
When on Lap 80 the lead car also reports a gearbox issue, the Rosso Verde team’s 5 or 6 lap estimate for their #3 car to challenge for the lead looked in need of revision and indeed it did because, after having caught and summarily dispatched the #2 car on Lap 82, Simonsen reigned in the 2.10 second gap to the leader on the following lap, Lap 83. The #3 car took the lead away from the #7 car just one lap further on from the team’s original estimate where they had hoped to make third place overall.
The #3 car continued to build a lead of over a second a lap, despite having lifted off somewhat and circulating in the 1:10’s, due to the second and third placed cars both suffering from limited gear selection. The third placed Ferrari was said to only have two available ratios, fourth and fifth, to match the two available to Geddie in second. The Porsche’s transmission being compromised, giving Geddie the luxury of choosing between third or fourth gear.
Race Order with ten minutes remaining: cars still running #3, #7, #2, #8, #12 ahead of the #14 car that made an unscheduled stop on Lap 83, #97, #4, #98, #92, and #48.
And that’s the way it stayed during the run-in as, despite a resurgent Griffin in the #2 MTECH Ferrari pulling to within 2 seconds of Geddie’s #7 Porsche, Geddie was better able to use his two available gears around the twisty circuit to respond and rebuild a five second buffer.
Danish driver Allan Simonsen took the checkered flag on Lap 96 in the fading autumn light of a windy Donington Park, marking his first win and the first win of the season for a happy Hector Lester and his Rosso Verde team.
The Invitation Class win went to the debutante Chevron GR8 of Chris Hart and Anthony Reid, which finished seventh overall. These excellent beginnings of a new team were backed up by Reid’s drive in the second stint winning him the Sunoco Driver of the Day award.
In the G4 Class Dick and Stanley cemented their championship winning season with a victory of five-laps over the battle-scarred Century Motorsport Ginetta of Freke and Smed, despite the #48 car having to be towed out of the Redgate gravel trap early on in the race.
Provisional result of Round 13 Avon Tires British GT Championship 16/10/2010
Overall & GT3
Fastest lap: Simonsen 1m 07.074s / 106.22mph
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