United Autosports to attack in Silverstone finale to steal GT3 championship glory

27 09 2011

United Autosports celebrate a maiden British GT win for the Guasch/Bell Audi © Jakob Ebrey

Victory celebrations are a distant memory for United Autosports who are clinging onto their title hopes © Jakob Ebrey

UNITED Autosports will head into the final round of the British GT at Silverstone in ‘full-attack’ mode after seeing their championship rivals flourish at Donington.

Teammates Matt Bell and Mike Guasch were the early season pace-setters and led the championship from rounds three to eight but the last two meetings have seen them fall to third, 11 points off the lead.

But with 37.5 points on offer in the two hour finale at Silverstone the Anglo-American pair know it is all to play for and the fightback in the second half of the race at Donington shows they still have their early season pace.

Mike Guasch had a collision in the wet after just thirty minutes and after a pit stop to repair the damage they were dropped down to last.

A brave drive from Bell brought the Audi R8LMS back into contention and carded a seventh place finish in the GT500 event which keeps their championship hopes alive.

Englishman Bell said: “Unfortunately Mike made a small mistake in the wet and hit another car which put the hood up on the car so he had to pit for repairs.

“After that, it was just a case of pushing as hard as I could and regaining as many places as possible. THe race has probably been the hardest drive I have ever had – it was pretty difficult with some heart in mouth moments trying to overtake as the car was not right after the collision.

“Our result leaves Mike and I with a mountain to climb due to our main competition finishing ahead of us.”

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Geddie family head to Silverstone on the edge of British GT glory in Ferrari 458

26 09 2011

The CRS Racing father/son pairing celebrate an unexpected pole position at Snetterton

The Geddie's will be hoping for more celebrations at Silverstone in October with the title on the line

THE father/son Geddie pairing are well placed for title glory at Silverstone next month after a fifth place finish at Donington Park saw them extend their championship lead over their rivals.

Glynn Geddie and father Jim finished fifth with their CRS teammates Andrew Tate and Alex Mortimer forced to retire after a trip to the gravel which brought the safety car out.

But Geddie is optimistic that with the limited success ballast and being in pole position in the driver standings they can make their title dream a reality at Silverstone.

Geddie narrowly missed out last year finishing second to then teammate David Ashburn in the Trackspeed Porsche and is hoping to go one better next month.

He said: “I’m satisfied with our weekend’s work at Donington and we can now really look forward to Silverstone.

“We’re now in a very strong position but there’s still a lot of work to be done before we can seal the title. We could have won the championship at Donington had results gone our way but it wasn’t to be although we have to be pleased that we stretched our lead.

But we’re happy with the way the car is running after a lot of hard work from the CRS Racing team during the course of the season so we’re confident of finishing the job.

“However, we must ensure we remain as professional as ever to give ourselves every chance of succeeding. We’ll work alongside the team to make sure we are prepared as possible for the finale before yet another season comes to an end.”





Fisken and Bridgman rue bad luck with backmarkers at Donington Park enduro

26 09 2011

Bridgman had looked quick in qualifying but engine failure put paid to a second 2011 win © Jakob Ebrey

Fisken and Bridgman were unlucky with a GT4 backmarker that compromised their chance of victory © Jakob Ebrey

A THIRD podium finish for Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman could of been so much more after a backmarker ruined their chances of a win.

The pair reminded the field that the Trackspeed Porsche still packs a punch despite being out of the title hunt after the Rockingham engine disaster and again mastered changeable conditions as they had at Brands Hatch.

After narrowly sneaking second after a penalty for the MTECH Ferrari 458, it was a feeling of what might have been after a clumsy moment with a GT4 backmarker robbed them of the lead.

Fisken was forced to circulate slowly under Safety Car procedure behind a crippled GT4 Aston Martin, allowing the chasing MTECH Ferrari to close in.

With their advantage now all-but negated, the backmarker then swerved late across the Porsche’s path into the pits just as racing resumed. With Fisken hard on the brakes, Duncan Cameron was able to easily nip past, even though the race remained under caution.

Fisken was happy to be back on the podium but understandably disappointed with the impact that the GT4 backmarker had.

He said: “It’s great to get back on the podium and an excellent result for the team, but I can’t help feeling a sense of ‘what if’. I was really enjoying myself out there, especially in the opening stint, when the track was at its trickiest.

“I’ve always revelled in those sorts of conditions because of my background in historic racing where power comfortably outstrips grip.

“Tim was then able to extend our lead before I got back in. We were comfortably clear of the rest so to have the GT4 Aston Martin compromise our race like that is just so disappointing.

“I had no choice but to stay behind even though the Safety Car was going faster. That allowed the others to claw back everything they had originally lost.

“Without being so badly delayed I think we would have won, especially when Tim showed in the final stint that we also had the dry pace to compete with the Ferraris. That at least bodes well for the final round where we will be looking to end our year on a high.”

Bridgman was equally delighted to get some big points but again left frustrated that bad luck compromised a winning position.

He added: “I’m delighted with the podium but can’t deny my frustration with all the little elements that conspired against us throughout the race. The car was great this weekend, especially in the changing conditions, which allowed me to open up a decent gap during my first stint.

That it was negated behind a Safety Car isn’t the problem – that’s endurance racing – it was the way in which Gregor, who was fantastic in those tricky early conditions, was held up by the stricken Aston Martin during the caution period, which helped others catch up, that really cost us.

 “We know the Ferrari 458 is a faster package in the dry over a stint but on sheer one-lap pace we were right there, as proven by the fastest lap.
“I was pretty certain the MTECH car would be penalised so it was just a case of sticking with him and picking up the pieces post-race. It was a great result that sets us up nicely for the final round.”




Late title push for Scuderia Vittoria as sensational enduro win sets up finale

26 09 2011

Lyons struggled with front end grip at Brands Hatch in a dramatic race

Lyons and Bateman are back in the title hunt after a stellar win at Donington

MICHAEL Lyons and Scuderia Vittoria teammate Charles Bateman stormed to a second race win of the season in a testing three-hour enduro at Donington Park to catapult them back into title contention.

The 20-year-old and Bateman took the GT500 by the scruff of the neck in the second half of the race and pulled out a lead over their closest rivals.

The fantastic result leaves Lyons with a shot at British GT glory in his debut season and the championship finale at Silverstone on October 9 is one not to be missed.

Lyons added: “The amazing thing is that this now leaves us firmly back in the championship chase with one round to go. After winning at Oulton Park earlier in the year which seems like such a long time ago, we now have a reasonable chance.

I will do my best to win at Silverstone the last race and just see what happens.”

Bateman started first on a damp and slippery surface and took the car from eighth to fourth before bringing it into the pits for Lyons to take over.

By this time, the circuit was bone dry and slicks were the only option. Lyons immediately set about setting fastest laps before the safety car was out again, this time for a beached Aston Martin.

As soon as the safety car came out Lyons pitted from an astonishing second place – in effect buying the team a free pit stop – a strategy that would pay big dividends at the chequered flag.

Bateman put the laps in and maintained the place and as the safety car came out for the third time, the team pitted on lap 62 to hand back over to Lyons for the last stint.

When Lyons rejoined the race he was in fifth place and a lap down, but the strategy was working well with a whole pit stop in hand to claw back the deficit to those in front.

By lap 85 Lyons was leading having passed cars on track and in the pits and the gap was 37 seconds. The biggest question at this point was whether a splash and dash for fuel would be needed.

Fortunately with some measured driving and fuel management they saw of the MTECH Ferrari 458 and ever present Trackspeed Porsche.

In the closing minutes though the #20 Ferrari spun off the circuit causing a safety car to come out one more time. This meant the lead was reduced to zero and when the safety car came back in, Lyons had to fight extremely hard to hold on to the flag.

Lyons said: “It was a mega race, those last twenty minutes just took forever, I never thought the race would finish. All the safety cars through the race both helped us and hindered us in equal amounts, so I suppose it just evened out really.

“The times in my last stint were great and against some really strong competition, so I’m really pleased with how it has all gone, this really is the race to win in British GT, and to beat the factory drivers too was very satisfying.

“The team have also done a great job all weekend, and the strategy and the way they spotted the opportunity to build a free pit stop was incredible, so I have to say thank you to the guys too.”





Scuderia Vittoria duo claim twilight win as championship goes down to the wire

26 09 2011

Michael Lyons suffered a string of misfortunes at Spa in his Ferrari 458 © Jakob Ebrey

Lyons and Bateman took their second season win in the three hour twilight enduro © Jakob Ebrey

SCUDERIA Vittoria pairing Charles Bateman and Michael Lyons secured their second victory of the season after a dramatic three-hour race into darkness at Donington Park.

The duo had qualified in eighth place in their Ferrari 458 Italia but played the strategy game well to move into the lead heading into the final hour of the race.

Despite a third Safety Car period late on, Lyons was able to bring the Ferrari home to the finish to give the team its first win since the opening rounds of the campaign at Oulton Park.

In GT4, the Lotus Sport UK team stormed to victory, with Phil Glew and James Nash leading from start to finish to win ahead of the Ginetta of Josh Wakefield and Jake Rattenbury.

The race had started in the wet after earlier rain, which led to tricky conditions throughout the opening stint.

Early on, the Beechdean Motorsport Aston Martin proved the class of the field, with the team electing to put Jonathan Adam in for the first stint while most teams took the decision to start with their professional driver watching from the pit wall.

From sixth on the grid, Adam stormed through to lead by the end of the first lap and then pulled away at the margin of three seconds a lap before the gap between the Aston and the chasing pack eventually started to stabilise as conditions improved.

Behind Adam, Gregor Fisken had also got ahead of reigning champion David Ashburn and into second place, with the two Trackspeed Porsches running in tandem ahead of the MTECH Ferrari of Duncan Cameron, Bateman and Mike Guasch’s United Autosport Audi.

Bateman made a move on Cameron for fourth just before the 20-minute mark and that allowed Guasch also to close on the Ferrari, before contact between the two cars saw Cameron slip down to eighth and left the Audi to pit with bodywork damage which cost it two laps.

The Aston Martin led through to the opening round of stops – at which point the field switched to slick tyres on the drying track – but that would be as good as is got for the Beechdean crew as Andrew Howard then suffered a spin at Redgate on his out lap.

Dropping down to fourth, Howard then lost further places among the quicker ‘pro’ drivers before a spin at the Esses saw the Aston beached in the gravel and led to the Safety Car being deployed.  Although he managed to get the car back to the pits, the Aston Martin was soon retired.

It would prove to be the moment when the race swung towards Scuderia Vittoria, as the team called Michael Lyons – who had taken over from Bateman – in for a second stop.

Keeping the car towards the front, Bateman then pitted when the Safety Car came out for a second time to remove the CRS Ferrari of Andrew Tate from the gravel, and this handed control back to Lyons as the three cars ahead all pitted.

Despite his final stint running to just over an hour, and with fuel needing to be saved, Lyons maintained a lead of more than 20 seconds before the Safety Car was called out for the third time with 16 minutes remaining when the MTECH Ferrari of David Back went off.

With three lapped cars to act as a buffer against the chasing pack, Lyons was able to hold on to his lead and take victory as a heated battle developed behind for second place.

Those boys behind at the finish were the MTECH Ferrari of Matt Griffin and Tim Bridgman’s Trackspeed Porsche, which had moved to the front of the field by the half-way stage – the former despite the earlier delay in Cameron’s first stint.

Bridgman had been the race leader when the second Safety Car period was called, ahead of Griffin. Both cars dived for the pits to complete what would be their second of three mandatory stops – with Gregor Fisken and Duncan Cameron maintaining position when they rejoined the circuit.

However, while still behind the Safety Car, the pair found themselves stuck behind the GT4 Aston Martin of Sergio Lagana, which was suffering from a gearbox issue and which they were unable under the Safety Car rules to pass. Having already been delayed, there was further drama for Fisken as he exited Goddards to take the restart when Lagana suddenly dived for the pits, forcing the Porsche man to jump on the brakes and allowing Cameron through into the lead.

The Ferrari would then lead the Porsche through to the final stops, where both were jumped by Lyons, with Griffin and Bridgman setting about chasing down the leader over the final 40 minutes.

The final Safety Car looked like setting up a grandstand finish but Griffin found himself stuck behind the lapped cars of both Gordon Shedden and Adam Wilcox and was unable to challenge Lyons for the lead, although any challenge would ultimately have been immaterial when stewards handed Cameron and Griffin a time penalty for the earlier pass on Fisken at the end of the second caution period.

With that time penalty applied, the MTECH car dropped back behind the Porsche, into third place, with Fisken and Bridgman securing the runner-up slot.

Outside the top three positions, the second Trackspeed Porsche of Ashburn and Stephen Jelley took the chequered flag in fourth place with its challenge having been hampered by a number of minor off-track excursions by Ashburn.

The CRS Ferrari of championship leaders Jim and Glynn Geddie was the final car to finish on the lead lap, in fifth place having lost time – and position – during the opening stint when the car was forced to serve a drive-through penalty for a starting procedure violation.

The all-new Rosso Verde Ferrari 458 Italia rounded out the top six after an encouraging debut, with touring car star Gordon Shedden quickly up to speed and matching the pace of the front-runners as he looked to lift the car back up the order after team-mate Hector Lester lost time during the wet opening stint.

Guasch and Bell lifted the delayed Audi – the only one in the race after the sister car was ruled out by a qualifying accident – back up to seventh at the finish, although the two laps lost early on would prove to be too much to make up. They regained one of the laps lost but seventh was the best the pair could have hoped for.

The 360 Vision Ferrari of Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox, the Speedworks Corvette of Ron and Piers Johnson and the Rollcentre Ginetta of Tom Sharp, Martin Short and Matt Nicoll-Jones rounded out the top 10 – the latter having been one of the stars of the early stages as Sharp fought his way up into the top five with a series of daring moves in the tricky conditions. For his sterling efforts at the wheel, Burton was awarded the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend trophy.

The GT4 category was dominated by the Lotus Sport UK Evora of Phil Glew and James Nash, which led throughout the three hours and claimed victory despite a late stop/go penalty. A strong first stint from Glew in the wet conditions saw the Lotus challenge a number of the quicker GT3 cars and the pair took the chequered flag a lap clear of the Ginetta of Josh Wakefield and Jake Rattenbury.

The Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta of Dan Denis and David McDonald had been well placed for third before a misfire in the final half hour saw the pair drop well off the pace. It allowed the KTM X-Bow of Marcus Clutton and Peter Belshaw to claim the final place on the podium, despite the car being forced to serve two stop/go penalties.

Elsewhere among the GT4 brigade, the second Lotus of Leyton Clarke and Freddy Nordstrom stopped on track, while the Barwell-run Secure Racing Aston Martin was hampered by its gearbox issues but did return to action late on, albeit 29 laps down.

Just 18.5 points separates the top nine drivers as the Avon Tyres British GT Championship heads for a grand finale at Silverstone on 8 October. The GT4 class is still open, too, with Belshaw and Clutton taking a 26.5-point lead into the last two-hour race of the season.

Round 9 Race Results

GT3

1  Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari  Michael Lyons/Charles Bateman  3h 0m 43.609s / 86.70mph

2  Trackspeed Porsche  Gregor Fisken/Tim Bridgman  +6.054s

3  MTECH Ferrari  Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin (IRL)  +6.100s

4  Trackspeed Porsche  David Ashburn/Stephen Jelley  +9.029s

5  CRS Racing Ferrari  Jim Geddie/Glynn Geddie  +33.549s

6  Rosso Verde Ferrari  Hector Lester/Gordon Shedden  104 laps

7  United Autosports Audi  Mike Guasch (USA)/Matt Bell  104 laps

8  360 Vision Ferrari  Phil Burton/Adam Wilcox  102 laps

9  Speedworks Motorsport Corvette  Ron Johnson/Piers Johnson  102 laps

10  Rollcentre Ginetta  Martin Short/Matt Nicoll-Jones/Tom Sharp  102 laps etc

GT4

1  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  James Nash/Phil Glew  100 laps

2  Century Motorsport Ginetta  Josh Wakefield/Jake Rattenbury  99 laps

3  ABG Motorsport KTM  Peter Belshaw/Marcus Clutton  98 laps etc

Fastest lap: Bridgman 1m 31.205s / 98.17mph (record)





Trackspeed take Donington Park pole as three-hour enduro tests title contenders

25 09 2011

Westbrook produced a phenomenal lap to take pole position in Race Two at Spa (www.britishgt.com)

Defending champions Trackspeed stole Donington pole after a close-fought qualifying session

DEFENDING champions Trackspeed will start the three-hour Donington Park enduro from pole after edging out rivals MTECH during an absorbing qualifying session for the penultimate event of the season.

In a red-flag affected session which featured a near half-hour stoppage, Stephen Jelley emerged with the quickest time at the wheel of the #1 Porsche 997 GT3 R; a lap of 1m 30.315s being the fastest seen over the course of the day and enough to secure his position at the head of the field.

The Porsche Carrera Cup racer, called into the Trackspeed line-up this weekend in the absence of Richard Westbrook, had just seen team-mate Tim Bridgman take provisional pole in the sister car when he produced a storming final sector to edge ahead and eventually took pole by just 0.005s.

Jelley said: “I’ll take that. The key to the lap was the chicane heading onto the Melbourne Loop as it’s very easy to get it wrong and overdrive the car, which is what I did on my first lap.

“The corner is deceptively quick and you can either slow down too much and cost yourself time, or you can try to go into the corner too quickly and end up braking too late.

“As it was, I managed to thread the needle and nail the lap to get pole. We’ve worked hard today and the car felt great, but it is a long race ahead. However, being on pole and starting at the front is the safest place to be.”

Matt Griffin would emerge as the closest challenger to the Porsche driver at the wheel of the #21 MTech Ferrari, having earlier admitted during free practice that he expected a close-run battle for pole.

Griffin had held provisional pole early in the session before the red-flag stoppage but when the session resumed, he fell agonisingly short of pipping Jelley to pole. However, he was as least able to split the Trackspeed Porsches with Bridgman left to settle for third place in the #2 997 GT3 R; albeit only 0.035s further back at the top three were split by just 0.040s.

Fourth quickest was the #23 Audi of Matt Bell, a tenth of a second away from pole, although it was a mixed session for the United Autosports team after John Bintcliffe went off into the gravel at McLeans inside the first ten minutes.

Having just set his quickest lap, Bintcliffe went backwards into the tyres at the right-hander and was ruled out for the remainder of the session; the car eventually being recovered to the pits when the red flag was thrown after the KTM X-Bow also went off track at the Esses.

Damage to the wall and the need to delicately lift the Audi onto a flat-bed truck before it could be returned to the paddock meant the stoppage eventually ran to more than 25 minutes.

Outside the top four, the #11 CRS Racing Ferrari of Alex Mortimer was fifth fastest having been the car to beat at the time the session was halted, with the top six completed by the Beechdean Aston Martin in the hands of Jonathan Adam.

The car, winner last time out at Rockingham, spent much of the early part of the session in the pits but Adam was than able to steadily climb up the field to secure a place on the third row of the grid.

Showing the close nature of the times, the top ten on the grid were covered by just eight tenths of a second when the 40 minutes came of running drew to a close.

Although the new Rosso Verde Ferrari 458 Italia successfully came through its first qualifying session to secure eleventh on the grid thanks to joint BTCC points leader Gordon Shedden.

There was trouble for other GT3 teams with Preci-Spark and Century Motorsport both forced to miss the session with engine problems. The Stark Racing Ginetta also hit trouble after stopping on track without setting a representative time.

In GT4, the battle for pole wasn’t quite as close as in GT3 but was still a tightly-fought affair, which eventually went the way of the #48 Lotus of Phil Glew and another debutant from the BTCC, James Nash.

Glew’s time of 1m 37.678s saw the Evora take pole ahead of the Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta G50 by just a tenth of a second, marking the first class pole for the Lotus Sport UK team.

Glew added: “That was really good for us. We’ve had our first win and now the team has told me that is our first pole, so it’s been a good day.

“As well as getting pole, we think we’ve got good race pace three hours is a long time tomorrow. We have to make sure we keep our noses clean at the start and hopefully the result will come.”

The KTM was third in class ahead of the second Lotus, despite the #49 car hitting problems which saw it return to the pits with damage to the front end. The Century Motorsport G50 and the Barwell-run Aston Martin Vantage rounded out the GT4 field.

Away from the two main classes, the Invitational Class Nissan GTR – making its British GT debut and competing for only the second time – bounced back from problems in the earlier practice sessions to set its quickest time of the day and will start the race from just outside the top ten in twelfth overall in the hands of Alex Buncombe and FIA GT1 World Championship racer Nick Catsburg.

Three places behind the Nissan on the times was the GT3B Ferrari 430 of Aaron Scott and John Dhillon in 14th, with the GTC class Chevron GR8 qualifying 16th on the grid in the hands of Jordan Witt and Anthony Reid.

Qualifying Results

GT3

1  Trackspeed Porsche  David Ashburn/Stephen Jelley  1m 30.315s

2  MTECH Ferrari  Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin (IRL)  1m 30.320s

3  Trackspeed Porsche  Gregor Fisken/Tim Bridgman  1m 30.355s

4  United Autosports Audi  Mike Guasch (USA)/Matt Bell  1m 30.448s

5  CRS Racing Ferrari  Andrew Tate/Alex Mortimer  1m 30.698s etc

GT4

1  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  James Nash/Phil Glew  1m 37.678s

2  Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta  Dan Denis/David McDonald  1m 37.784s

3  ABG Motorsport KTM  Peter Belshaw/Marcus Clutton  1m 38.440s etc





Geddie gunning for championship glory at Donington in penultimate British GT race

21 09 2011

The CRS Racing father/son pairing celebrate an unexpected pole position at Snetterton

The father/son pairing and going for championship glory as the season comes to a head

ABERDEEN race ace Glynn Geddie is gearing up to grab British GT glory at Donington this weekend.

The 21-year-old and his dad Jim will again be behind the wheel of their CRS Racing 458 Ferrari as they look to wrap up the championship title.

The father and son duo will be out to stave off the challenge of Audi R8 LMS duo Matt Bell and Michael Guasch as the season reaches its climax.

With only two meetings left in the series the Geddies are five points clear at the top of the overall standings following an eventful display earlier this month at Rockingham.

After finishing a disappointing 12th in the opening race, due to starting at the back of the pack after missing a pit window, the Geddies rallied to finish in second place in the final race to propel them up the table.

The Aberdeen pair will be conscious of the challenge posed by Bell and Guasch as they mount a challenge for honours.

Geddie Jnr is in confident mood as he tries to go one better following his second place finish in last season’s championship to then Trackspeed colleague David Ashburn.

He said: “We’re looking to learn from our mistakes at Rockingham by starting well at Donington.

“The second race at Rockingham proved our resilience and has certainly filled us with confidence going into this one.

“We are well placed ahead of our last two races and will do everything we can to have a real go at winning the championship this weekend.

“This season has been character building to say the least although we’re now in a very strong position so it’s vital we perform to the best of our abilities this weekend.”

The Geddies have their final meeting of the British GT Championship at Silverstone at the beginning of next month, while Geddie Jnr competes in his final race of the FIA GT3 Championship at Zandvoort on October 16.