Championship leader David Ashburn and his co-driver Glynn Geddie took an exciting late victory in a sensational two-hour Avon Tyres British GT Championship enduro at Silverstone yesterday. The Trackspeed Porsche duo came out on top in a crowd-pleasing race which attracted a field of 25 cars, and Ashburn extended his points lead in the process.
The G4 Class was competitive also, thanks to a boost in entries, and was won by International GT ace Rob Bell and his younger brother Matt in the United Autosports Ginetta.
After starting 10th on the grid, Ashburn gradually moved up the order as Tom Ferrier’s Chad Ferrari and Stuart Hall’s Vantage Racing Aston Martin DBRS9 - appearing in the championship for the first time - set the early pace.
Martin Short quickly moved the Rollcentre Mosler through the field from 14th to take third, and inherited second when Hall spun. The Vantage Aston developed a throttle problem and dropped back, leaving reigning champion Godfrey Jones (Preci-Spark Ascari) to chase the leading duo.
As Ferrier built up a lead of more than 20 seconds, other teams decided to make their pit stops early. Philip Walker, who had started the second Trackspeed Porsche from pole before falling back to the fringes of the top 10, was one of the first to stop, handing over to international GT ace Richard Westbrook.
Westbrook soon passed Allan Simonsen, the Ferrari driver on a recovery drive himself after Hector Lester suffered a spin, and became the fastest man on the track as he climbed up the order.
After the stops had been completed, Paul Warren had a lead of nearly half a minute in the Chad Ferrari recently vacated by Ferrier, from Adrian Beer in the Mosler. David Jones held third and the top trio started to close up.
Faster than these three, however, were Geddie, Westbrook, and Darren Turner in the Barwell-Beechdean Aston Martin. Andrew Howard had driven the DBRS9 into the top six before handing over to Turner at the half-way mark, and the factory Aston driver starred. Darren took over a few seconds ahead of the Simonsen-Westbrook duel and immediately became one of the fastest drivers on the track. He was a minute and a half behind the leaders, but - like Simonsen and Westbrook - took three to five seconds per lap out of them consistently during the second half of the race.
Geddie caught and passed David Jones with around half an hour to go and was gifted second when British GT debutant Beer spun; Adrian went on to finish 12th in the Mosler.
Geddie’s Porsche demoted Warren from top spot with 10 laps to go but the win was not yet in the bag. Westbrook was charging up behind having finally overcome Turner as the Aston’s tyres wilted, and Simonsen was still in contention.
After passing Jones and Warren, Westbrook closed on Geddie and then held station to defend any attack on team boss and title leader Ashburn’s potential win.
Although Turner reached third, he didn’t have the pace to challenge the Porsches. But Simonsen did: with the balance of the car improving as the tyres became more worn, Simonsen overtook the Aston and started cutting into the six-second lead of the Porsches.
Westbrook immediately dropped back to defend Geddie’s lead, but Simonsen passed him anyway to go after Geddie. After two hours of close racing, Simonsen’s bid failed by just 2.4 seconds as Geddie took the victory flag to put Ashburn 26 points clear in the Avon Tyres British GT standings.
Westbrook looked set to be rewarded for a great drive with a podium, but fuel starvation struck and Turner shot by on the run to the line to put the lead Aston Martin third. Howard, who was returning to British GT for the first time this season, said: “It was good proper racing with big grids and proper cars. I’d love to come back for the Brands races.”
Alex Mortimer brought the RPM Ford GT, started by Peter Bamford, home fifth. The V8 machine couldn’t match the pace of the Porsches, the quickest Ferraris, nor Turner, but a long strong stint from the 2007 British GT champion brought the car through the pack.
Steve Kane stole sixth from the Jones Ascari on the final lap after a great recovery drive in another Chad Ferrari. Iain Dockerill had made a good start in the 430 Scuderia, but had a moment on the opening lap and fell down the field. Kane was at the tail end of the GT3 field when he jumped in, but charged back to take a well-earned sixth.
Behind the Ascari came the Phil Burton/Adam Wilcox Ferrari, which had run as high fourth, and the third Chad Ferrari, of Chris Hyman/Dan Brown. Title contenders Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin rounded out the top 10 after a difficult weekend. The MTECH Ferrari suffered a wheelnut problem at the pit stop, and suspected damper and gearbox issues, and could only watch as Ashburn extended his title advantage.
In the G4 Class, Rory Butcher pulled out a comfortable lead during the first part of the race in ABG Motorsport’s KTM X-Bow, while Matt Bell fought Century Motorsport’s Freddie Hetherington for second.
The Bell’s United Autosports G50 fell back after the stops, thanks to a 45-second penalty for running platinum and silver-rated drivers, but there was still a good fight at the front. Benji Hetherington soon started closing on the KTM, now driven by Benjamin Harvey.
Both were then handed penalties, the KTM for a refuelling error, and the Century machine for one of the mechanics having his visor open during the fuel stop. Unfortunately, the battle between the two ended when the KTM retired, while the G50 picked up another penalty for an infringement during the penalty stop and was then excluded after Benji missed a red light at the end of the pit lane.
That left the Bells to win, well clear of series returnee Stark Racing and its Ginetta G50, driven by Paul Marsh and Ian Stinton. The reliable duo kept going while the other Ginettas, including championship leaders Christian Dick/Jamie Stanley and the Century car of Nathan Freke and Vibe Smed, hit trouble.
United Autosports boss Richard Dean said: “It was always going to be difficult to win with the extra 45 seconds at the stops, so we had to make no mistakes. We managed that, while others didn’t.”
European GT4 star Kevin Veltman completed the G4 podium in Chad’s KTM, sharing with Rockingham winner Athanasios Ladas. Piranha Motorsport’s Lotus 2-Eleven of Chris Bialan and Simon Mason took fourth, after Bialan had a great early fight with Marsh in the Stark G50.
The Invitation Class fell to the ABG KTM X-Bow of Colin and Sam Mowle in 14th overall, while Reflex Racing took 20th on its series debut with Smiths, Peter and Matt, driving the team’s modified Ginetta G50.
British GT is sponsored by UK tyre manufacturer Avon Tyres and is further supported by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and The Independent.
Avon Tyres British GT Championship Provisional results Round 8, Silverstone 15/8/2010
60 laps = 191.67 miles
Overall & GT3
1 Trackspeed Porsche David Ashburn / Glynn Geddie 2h 0m 15.833s / 95.62mph
2 Rosso Verde Ferrari Hector Lester / Allan Simonsen (DEN) +2.352s
3 Barwell-Beechdean Aston Martin Andrew Howard / Darren Turner +10.761s
4 Trackspeed Porsche Philip Walker / Richard Westbrook +20.988s
5 RPM Ford Peter Bamford / Alex Mortimer +22.994s
6 Chad Racing Ferrari Iain Dockerill / Steven Kane +24.282s
7 Preci-Spark Ascari David Jones / Godfrey Jones +26.140s
8 Predator CCTV Ferrari Phil Burton / Adam Wilcox +31.341s
9 Chad Racing Ferrari Chris Hyman (RSA) / Dan Brown +43.482s
10 MTECH Ferrari Duncan Cameron / Matt Griffin (IRL) +44.802s etc
1 United Autosports Ginetta Matt Bell / Rob Bell 57 laps
2 Stark Racing Ginetta Ian Stinton / Paul Marsh 56 laps
3 Chad KTM Athanasios Ladas (GRE) / Kevin Veltman (NED) 56 laps
4 Piranha Lotus Chris Bialan / Simon Mason 55 laps
5 ABG KTM Benjamin Harvey / Rory Butcher 44 laps
1 ABG KTM Colin Mowle / Sam Mowle 57 laps
2 Reflex Ginetta Peter Smith / Matt Smith 53 laps
Fastest lap: Westbrook 1m 53.415s / 101.39mph
Full results can be found by clicking here.
Provisional championship standings
Overall & GT3
1 Ashburn 72 points; 2= Geddie, Cameron & Griffin 46; 5 Lester 34; 6 Simonsen 32; 7= Burton & Wilcox 25; 9= Jones & Jones 24 etc.
1= Christian Dick & Jamie Stanley 43; 3= Harvey & Butcher 38; 5= Mason & Bialan 32.5 etc
Next rounds: August 30, Snetterton