Closely fought championship switches to Snetterton - Motor Racing - Sport - The Independent

Closely fought championship switches to Snetterton

As the Avon Tyres British GT Championship heads for the power-hungry straights of the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk next weekend (4/5 July), the focus is on the exceptionally tight championship points situation. Five different driver pairings have taken overall race honours already this season, and just three points separates the top six drivers in the series. It's as close a season as anyone can recall.

Thanks to their maiden British GT race victory in Scotland earlier this month, and their podium-finishing consistency during the rest of the season, it's the Jones brothers, Godfrey and David, who lead the championship to Norfolk. Their Preci-Spark Ascari was ideally suited to the undulations and twists of Knockhill, and proved quick also at the start of the season at the faster circuits of Oulton Park and Spa-Francorchamps, which should bode well for their Snetterton pace.

But Snetterton's long straights and fast circuits will favour several of the Ascari's rivals also, not least the ABG Viper handled by Aaron Scott and Craig Wilkins. They took their first British GT win in Belgium in May and were victorious again in the wet-then-dry second race at Knockhill.

Then there's the Momo Mosler, in which erstwhile championship leader Daniel Brown plans to celebrate his 18th birthday in winning style at Snetterton. Dan, partnered by Stuart Hall, won both the Oulton races and was victorious in GT3 again - this time sharing duties at the wheel with Gregor Fisken - in one of the Rockingham rounds.

Next weekend young Brown will have to adapt himself to yet another co-driver, for he will share the Mosler with Martin Short, the boss of Cambridgeshire-based Rollcentre Racing. Short may be nearly three times Brown's age but he's lost none of the pace which has brought him countless British GT wins over the seasons, not least that which he scored with Fisken at Spa in May.

"It's half-way through the season and Dan has been bouncing into the lead of the championship and out again," said Short. "Gregor can't make Snetterton because of business commitments, so I am stepping in to give Dan the best help that I can. Snetterton has traditionally been my local track, and I have always enjoyed the racing in British GT, so I am looking forward to it and to supporting him with his championship bid."

The Ferrari brigade are expecting to put on a good show at Snetterton also, not least the Rosso Verde pairing of Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen, who topped the GT3 results sheet at Rockingham and who are reunited after Simonsen missed Knockhill in favour of a Ferrari drive at Le Mans.

After some dire luck in the early races, Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox now have the VRS Ferrari right on the money. They were second in GT3 at Rockingham and runners-up in both of the Knockhill races also.

All the Ferrari bad luck seems to have landed in the laps of MTECH Ferrari duo Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin, whose 430 Scuderia has proven as fragile as it is beautiful. It would have won in Scotland but for a major mechanical failure almost within sight of the chequered flag.

Chad Racing celebrated a maiden podium finish last time out, and regular pilot Chris Hyman is rejoined for Snetterton by Paul Warren. Another GT3 car to watch out for in Norfolk is the mighty Ford GT - a race winner here in 2008 - which is driven this season by RPM men Michael Bentwood and Philip Walker.

Two cars which missed the Knockhill rounds - the Barwell-Beechdean Aston Martin and the Barwell Motorsport Invitation Class Ginetta G50Z - return for Snetterton, with Andrew Howard and Jamie Smyth handling the former and Piers Johnson partnering Rockingham outright race victor Olly Bryant in the latter.



FIRTH BIDS TO SET SEAL ON GT4 TITLE



The GT4 class battle at Snetterton could see Yorkshireman Jody Firth put the championship title virtually beyond the reach of any his rivals. Firth now has a clear solo championship lead as his regular co-pilot, 17-year-old Nigel Moore, was away making history as the youngest-ever British driver at Le Mans earlier this month when he might otherwise have been driving the Team WFR Ginetta at Knockhill.

There was a new GT4 class victor last time out in the shape of Stark Racing duo Ian Stinton and Paul Marsh. Stinton returns solo to the fray at Snetterton with his Ginetta, hoping for a repeat win.

The championship is sponsored by Avon Tyres and is further supported by motorsport insurance specialist AON, by Sunoco Racing Fuels and by Anglo American Oil Company.

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