Surprise victory for ABG Viper
Monday 15 June 2009
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship has a new leading driver pairing after this weekend after two superbly exciting races at Knockhill in Scotland. The new men on top are racing twin brothers David and Godfrey Jones, who scored the Team Preci-Spark Ascari's first legitimate British GT race victory on Saturday, and who collected further points in yesterday's eighth round. The ABG Viper pairing of Aaron Scott and Craig Wilkins were the race victors of Sunday's gripping event.
The Jones brothers' Saturday win was a pole to chequered flag affair, and was all the sweeter given that their 2008 Knockhill win was taken from them by officials who judged them to have overtaken under yellow warning flags.
This time there were no mistakes from the Leicestershire-based duo, David blasting into the lead from the lights and hanging on in front all the way to his pit stop despite fearsome pressure from the Rollcentre Momo Mosler of Dan Brown.
Seventeen-year-old Brown tried everything in his power to muscle the Mosler past the Ascari, but wily old Jones had an answer for all the youngster's tricks. "It was tough," said David, "because the Mosler was right on my backside most of the time. There were areas where I could get away and I didn't have to defend, and then other laps when I had to defend hard. It seemed to come in waves. It all worked out in the end..."
Jones pitted from the lead on the 38th of the 66 laps, with Brown taking over in front for three laps and pitting at the last possible moment for his hand-over to Gregor Fisken, the Scottish-born driver making his Knockhill racing debut. Fisken exited the pits just as a charging Godfrey Jones crested the rise of the main straight, and the Ascari dived past to resume the lead. "I got really on it on my first lap out," said Godfrey. "I saw Fisken pulling out of the pits, but there was no way that I wasn't going down the inside. That worked out fine and then was able to get on with it."
It wasn't all plain sailing for the Ascari from then on, however. A brief safety car period 15 laps from the end, called so that marshals could collect tyre debris from the track, allowed the pack to bunch up behind the leader. Jones timed his restart to perfection, however, and was able to show a clean pair of heels to his pursuers.
It was Fisken who lost out most after the safety car was withdrawn. A couple of laps afterwards the Mosler was jumped by the VRS Ferrari, in the hands of Adam Wilcox after an impressive first stint by Phil Burton, and Gregor was then bumped back to fifth by the Hector Lester/Stéphane Daoudi Ferrari and the Wilkins/Scott Viper.
Daoudi was delighted with a podium finish on his maiden British GT outing, the Frenchman standing in for Rosso Verde's regular fast man Allan Simonsen, away at Le Mans. "It was a special welcome to British GT for me," said Stéphane. "It was a big, big fight, very interesting. The car was oversteering a bit but the safety car helped us a lot and I made a good restart, and set the fastest lap."
The Chris Hyman/José Balbiani Ferrari was classified seventh, behind the Philip Walker/Michael Bentwood Ford GT, despite pulling out of the race eight laps from home with mechanical problems.
The only other finisher was the GT4 Ginetta of a lonely Jody Firth, driving solo as his regular partner Nigel Moore was another driver tackling Le Mans. Firth inherited the class lead after six laps when Ian Stinton's Ginetta lost drive and he continued metronomically to the flag. "It's great for the championship," said Firth.
Scott and Wilkins scored a surprise victory on Sunday, their ABG Viper seizing its second win of the season in a rain and penalty-strewn eighth round of the championship.
They inherited the win after several rivals were handed penalties for pit stop infringements and the MTECH Ferrari of Cameron and Griffin fell from the lead with drivetrain problems four laps from the flag.
"Our start was good," said Scott, "the car was good in the rain, we had a great pit stop from the lads and then Craig did a blinding job as the others fell apart around us. Really the others gave us the win today, and it is gratefully accepted."
Griffin's Ferrari led for the first 30 laps in the rain, losing the advantage to Godfrey Jones's Ascari only in the final laps of Matt's stint at the wheel as the track dried. But the Jones brothers' clutchless Ascari unavoidably broke the pit lane speed limit during its stop, and then transgressed again during the resulting penalty drive-through, which handed the lead back to the MTECH Ferrari, now with Cameron at the wheel.
Alas for Cameron his moment of glory disappeared in a puff of smoke along the start/finish straight on the 54th of the 58 laps.
The ABG mechanics and the Viper's drivers had barely put a wheel wrong all race, Scott skilfully surviving an early spin and Wilkins driving a solid second stint to be in the right place at the right time when the race came to them. The Viper crossed the line 3.3s ahead of the Wilcox/Burton VRS Ferrari, with the Chad Ferrari collecting third and its first podium of the season courtesy Hyman and visiting Argentinian ace Balbiani.
The Jones brothers recovered to fourth, scoring sufficient points to take the championship lead, with the Daoudi/Lester Ferrari fifth ahead of the Bentwood/Walker Ford GT. Cameron and Griffin were classified sixth ahead of the Momo Mosler of erstwhile points leader Brown and Fisken, which lost four laps in a gravel trap after Fisken erred at Carlube corner.
The GT4 class was won for the first time by Stinton's Stark Racing Ginetta, Ian partnered for the weekend by Paul Marsh. They battled hard with Firth early on, until Firth's Team WFR car lost its brakes at Scotsman corner and ploughed into the gravel.
"I came out of the pits," said Stinton, "down the hill into Scotsman and found Jody Firth in the gravel. It doesn't get any better than that. I think I ended up with a 12-lap lead over Jody; it's a shame we couldn't have a race together..."
Avon Tyres British GT Championship
Provisional results round 7
66 laps / 83.91 miles
1 GT3 Preci-Spark Ascari KZR1, David Jones/Godfrey Jones 1h 0m 02.460s / 83.85mph
2 GT3 VRS Ferrari 430, Adam Wilcox/Phil Burton +3.117s
3 GT3 Rosso Verde Ferrari 430, Stéphane Daoudi/Hector Lester +4.226s
4 GT3 ABG Dodge Viper, Aaron Scott/Craig Wilkins +12.823s
5 GT3 Rollcentre Mosler MT900, Daniel Brown/Gregor Fisken +30.804s
6 GT3 RPM Ford GT, Michael Bentwood/Philip Walker 65 laps
7 GT3 Chad Ferrari 430, Chris Hyman/José Balbiani 58 laps
8 GT4 WFR Ginetta G50, Jody Firth 58 laps
GT3 MTECH Ferrari 430, Matt Griffin/Duncan Cameron 28 laps
GT4 Stark Ginetta G50, Ian Stinton/Paul Marsh 6 laps
GT3 Daoudi 51.884s / 88.21mph
GT4 Firth 56.793s / 80.58mph
Provisional results round 8
58 laps / 73.74 miles
1 GT3 ABG Dodge Viper, Aaron Scott/Craig Wilkins 1h 0m 07.141s / 73.59mph
2 GT3 VRS Ferrari 430, Adam Wilcox/Phil Burton +3.352s
3 GT3 Chad Ferrari 430, Chris Hyman/José Balbiani +4.156s
4 GT3 Preci-Spark Ascari KZR1, David Jones/Godfrey Jones +7.272s
5 GT3 Rosso Verde Ferrari 430, Stéphane Daoudi/Hector Lester +47.755s
6 GT3 RPM Ford GT, Michael Bentwood/Philip Walker 57 laps
7 GT3 MTECH Ferrari 430, Matt Griffin/Duncan Cameron 54 laps
8 GT3 Rollcentre Mosler MT900, Daniel Brown/Gregor Fisken 54 laps
9 GT4 Stark Ginetta G50, Ian Stinton/Paul Marsh 54 laps
10 GT4 WFR Ginetta G50, Jody Firth 42 laps
GT3 Brown 51.621s / 88.66mph
GT4 Firth 56.682s / 80.74mph
Provisional championship standings GT3
1= David & Godfrey Jones 47 points; 3= Wilkins & Scott, Lester 46; 6 Brown 44; 7= Allan Simonsen & Fisken 36; 9= Wilcox & Burton 31 etc.
1 Firth 46; 2 Nigel Moore 37; 3 Stinton 29 etc.
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