Westbrook and Ashburn win Race One after exciting season opener at Oulton Park

25 04 2011

Ashburn and Westbrook celebrate Race One victory

Ashburn and Westbrook celebrate Race One victory on the podium

DEFENDING champion David Ashburn and teammate Richard Westbrook steered their Trackspeed Porsche to victory in the opening race of the new British GT season in an enthralling race.

The Trackspeed Porsche which had started second behind the new Ferrari 458 of Michael Lyons and Charles Bateman jumped the leaders during the pit stops and never looked back as Westbrook held off a late charge from Matt Bell in the Audi R8 to win by 1.5 seconds.

Jonathan Adam completed the podium but sadly will not feature in the second race after his Aston Martin engine gave up as he crossed the line, ending his race in a cloud of smoke.

Allan Simonsen’s late surge put his Ferrari 430 Scuderia in fourth as well as carding the fastest lap, a 1.38.635 for the Dane. The debuting Mercedes SLS at the hands of the Jones brothers rounded off a top five made up of all different manufacturers.

The race started with battles forming throughout the field, Hector Lester and Jim Geddie in an all-Ferrari duel, Duncan Cameron in the demoted 458 working his way back up and Michael Guasch attacking the defensive David Jones in the Mercedes SLS.

With 23 laps on the clock Lyons, in the Ferrari 458, was leading from pole but a poor driver switch in the pit lane allowed the #1 Trackspeed Porsche to move into first place now at the hands of the classy Westbrook.

Westbrook looked set to pull away from the field but Bell who had taken over from Guasch held onto the back of him and closed the gap from five seconds down to 1.5 but it was still not enough and the United Autosports Audi had to settle for the second step of the podium.

The pitlane was very busy for the driver changes and played a part in the race outcome

The pitlane was very busy for the driver changes and played a part in the race outcome

It was not all good news for Trackspeed as their second Porsche was running well before being forced out of the race. Gregor Fisken had started well and Tim Bridgman continued their pace but was pushed off the track at Lodge Corner trying to overtake the Mercedes SLS for third place before retiring with a front left puncture at Old Hall.

The squabble for third cost the Mercedes valuable time and allowed Simonsen in the Rosso Verde Ferrari and Adam’s Aston Martin a sniff at the podium. The Mercedes did not have the pace to hold them off and eventually dropped back to fifth in the final standings.

Matt Griffin, in the MTECH Racing Ferrari 458 which had started from the back of the grid, took over from Cameron and continued to push up the field with some searing lap times and ended up in seventh. The pair will be looking for a podium in race two with a higher grid slot.

In GT4, the ABG Motorsport KTM of Peter Belshaw and Marcus Clutton took the honours with Dan Denis and David McDonald in the Ginetta G50 in second. A special mention goes to Michael Mallock who took third in GT4 with Athanasios Ladas after storming up from last in the class to give ABG Motorsport another podium.

The sole GT3B car of Aaron Scott and John Dhillon finished the race 15th overall and the Chevron of Jordan Witt and the popular Anthony Reid came home in the GTC class, a respectable 12th overall.

Race One Results

GT3

1  Trackspeed Porsche  David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook  1h 01m 12.046s / 95.01mph

2  United Autosports Audi  Mike Guasch (USA)/Matt Bell  +1.528s

3  Beechdean Aston Martin  Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam  +28.961s

4  Rosso Verde Ferrari  Hector Lester/Allan Simonsen (DEN)  +29.362s

5  Preci-Spark Mercedes  David Jones/Godfrey Jones  +41.753s

6  Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari  Michael Lyons/Charles Bateman  +43.353s

7  MTECH Ferrari  Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin (IRL)  +1m 03.783s

8  CRS Racing Ferrari  Jim Geddie/Glynn Geddie  +1m 06.043s

9  Chad Racing Ferrari  Iain Dockerill/Steven Kane  +1m 28.404s

10  Predator CCTV Ferrari  Phil Burton/Adam Wilcox  +1m 29.233s etc

Fastest lap: Simonsen 1m 38.635s / 98.25mph

GT Cup

1  Chevron Racing Chevron  Jordan Witt/Anthony Reid  35 laps

GT3B

1  MTECH Ferrari  John Dhillon/Aaaron Scott  35 laps

GT4

1  ABG Motorsport KTM  Peter Belshaw/Marcus Clutton  34 laps

2  Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta  Dan Denis/David McDonald  34 laps

3  ABG Motorsport KTM  Athanasios Ladas (GRE)/Michael Mallock  34 laps

4  Century Motorsport Ginetta  Josh Wakefield/Jake Rattenbury  34 laps

5  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  Leyton Clarke/Freddy Nordstrom  34 laps





Rookie Dan Denis can’t wait for endurance races in G4 title battle

3 03 2011

Dan Denis

Youngster Dan Denis can't wait for debut season © Jakob Ebrey

BRITISH GT rookie Dan Denis has his sights firmly set on G4 glory this year as he makes the step up from the Ginetta Cup.

Driving for Scuderia Vittoria in a Ginetta G50, Denis, 19, from West Sussex can’t wait to get to grips with the longer endurance events which attracted him to the British GT series.

He told BritishGT: “This is my first year in British GT, but I hope to be challenging for the G4 title.

“I’ve done a year in the Ginetta last year in the G50 Cup but the endurance racing was quite appealing to me, especially this year because they have changed the races to make them longer now with two hour races.

“I’m running with Piers Masarati for Scuderia Vittoria this year and I’m testing his Ferrari later in the year.

“The plan is to challenge in G4 this year and hopefully win that and then move into GT3 with him next year.”

And Denis is well aware of the increased pressures that come with the longer distances but feels he is adequately prepared despite his relative inexperience.

He explained: “The challenge of the longer race and maintaining concentration and the strategy and pit stops involved really appeals to me.

“I’ve done some fitness training in the gym and do quite a lot of swimming to get myself up to fitness so I feel as though I am ready.”

Denis does not have a co-driver yet but revealed that an announcement by Piers Masarati, Scuderia Vittoira Team Manager, is imminent with a Formula Renault driver being lined up.

Dan Denis Ginetta G50

Denis will be driving the Ginetta G50 this year © Jakob Ebrey

One advantage that Denis has over some of his rivals that are running with a new car for the 2011 season is that he will be racing in his Ginetta from last year where he feels right at home.

He revealed: “It’s the same car I used in the G50 Cup but it’s been upgraded for G4 racing.

“The rear wing has been taken off, a different air box has been put on and the wheels are bigger than they were before but the car itself is the same.

“I’ve not had a chance to test it yet but hopefully after the Media Day I’ll have quite a lot of test days.

“I’d like to do some stuff at Silverstone and the new Snetterton layout which looks really interesting.”