United Autosports pair Bell and Guasch look to extend British GT title lead at Spa

4 07 2011

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

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

BRITISH GT Championship leaders Matt Bell and Mike Guasch are hoping to get their title hopes back on track when the series hits Belgium this weekend.

The Anglo-American pair had made an impressive start to the 2011 campaign with two podiums on the opening weekend at Oulton Park and a maiden race win at Snetterton.

But the United Autosports drivers were brought back down to earth with a terrible Brands Hatch race as their #23 Audi R8 LMS was shunted out of the two-hour enduro on just the second lap.

The fifth and sixth rounds of the series see the competition hit European shores at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit for two one-hour races.

Yorkshire based racer Matt Bell is hoping that despite limited running at the 4.35-mile track in the Ardennes they can come away with a big points haul.

He said: “I have raced at Spa once and did a five lap test in the Audi R8 LMS – the track is fantastic and is one of the best in the world.

“The length of the circuit, the setting, the nature of corners – it’s unique. Mike and I are looking to bounce back from our Brands Hatch disappointment.

“There are 50 points on offer and we’re aiming for a hefty slice of them.”

With all four of the United Autosports drivers in the two Audis having little track time around Spa, the team believes that experience gained from the Spa 24 Hour race last July will help them get on the podium.

Co-owner and Managine Director Richard Dean added: “All four drivers did a test day at Spa so they have an idea of the track which is vital as it isn’t an easy place.

“As a team, we are experienced there having achieved third and fourth places in class in the 24 Hour race last July. We are all looking forward to it.”

Advertisements




INSIDE TRACK: A look back at a thrilling weekend in the British GT at Oulton Park

1 05 2011

The full British GT grid was a wonderful site at the opening race in Cheshire

The full British GT grid was a wonderful site at the opening race in Cheshire

WITH the dust well and truly settled at Oulton Park after an enthralling two Easter Monday races, I thought I would take a look back at the weekend and what happened off the track and dish out some awards to the most entertaining events of the day.

Almost as anticipated as Friday’s Royal Wedding, my BritishGT race awards are given out after each race weekend in a range of categories depending on what I saw in the paddock as I wandered around in the sunshine.

The race itself provided the media with enough to talk about with safety cars, crashes, new cars and some overtaking so the first awards I think should go to my car and driver of the day.

With so many new cars on the grid, Car of the Day was always going to be a tricky one to decide but for sheer race pace I think the Ferrari 458 deserves it, as well as it looking sensational. Matt Griffin in Race One was dominating from the back and catching the leaders and in Race Two Michael Lyons and Charles Bateman won from the back of the grid.

Just for the record, the closest car to taking this award other than the Ferrari was the safety car, I think it probably led more laps than any other car on the circuit all day!

Driver of the Day was slightly harder because there was some great racing from all competitors right through the field. Lyons in his Ferrari was blistering in Race Two on debut, Phil Burton scythed his way through the field for Predator CCTV Racing in Race One, Richard Westbrook was a class above at times in the Trackspeed Porsche and Michael Mallock was three seconds quicker a lap than anyone else in GT4.

But the winner for his performance in Race Two in the new Audi R8 LMS was American Michael Gausch as he put in some scintillating laps to recover from a team pit stop error to finish third, backing up a strong second place in Race One.

Elsewhere Villain of the Day went to the ever-popular Jones brothers in their German tank. A vicious move at Lodge Corner on the poor little Porsche sent Tim Bridgman off into the gravel with a broken steering rack. After the race Gregor Fisken showed me the wheel which was completely buckled. Godfrey and David Jones, British GT stalwarts are well known for their aggressive driving and in the new Mercedes beast, they have the perfect ramming device!

Team of the Day was a tricky one too, both ABG Motorsport and Trackspeed deserve a mention for their tireless work between races to get their broken cars ready to race. Trackspeed were still fixing their #2 Porsche in the pitlane before Race Two and ABG had a host of problems with the Mallock/Ladas KTM before getting it out ready to take a podium in the GT4. Overall I think for their persistence all weekend, ABG will have to take the honours.

Comedy Moment of the Day has a top three. Coming in third was David Ashburn and his Trackspeed coloured Segway which he drove around the paddock throughout the day looking delighted with himself. We hate to say it, but in true You’ve Been Framed style, it would have made it to Number One had there been a fall!

Tim Bridgman’s trip across the Fosters Loop and the commentators delight in renaming the corner Bridgman’s for the remainder of the race was in second place. The then incessant text flashing up on the timing screens of various members of the Trackspeed team to report to Race Control added to the chuckling in the media centre.

However, first place is the antics of the podium girl who, everytime the champagne was uncorked, dashed away like Usain Bolt from the celebrations to save her hair, screaming “It’s happened too many times before!”

Oulton Park Podium - Comedy Moment of the Day

Comedy Moment of the Day - Now you see her...

Oulton Park Podium Champagne

...now you don't!

Awards

Car of the Day: Ferrari 458

Driver of the Day: Michael Guash

Villain of the Day: David and Godfrey Jones

Team of the Day: ABG Motorsport

Comedy Moment of the Day: Podium girl’s 100m dash





MTECH Racing and Griffin take positives after frustrating weekend at Oulton Park

27 04 2011

Griffin believes the British GT Championship is one of the strongest national series in the world © Jakob Ebrey

Griffin thinks the new Ferrari 458 has the potential but was unlucky at Oulton © Jakob Ebrey

MTECH Racing driver Matt Griffin is looking to the future after an ultimately disappointing weekend at Oulton Park in the British GT Championship.

Griffin and teammate Duncan Cameron had a good first race but still only claimed seventh place after being forced to start from the back of the grid due to limited running time.

Race Two at Oulton Park led to retirement for MTECH Racing’s new Ferrari 458 from sixth place in the dramatic race which will be a concern for the team who were looking for improved reliability in the new car.

But Griffin is optimistic that once the car has done a few more miles and the team can get a clear track, the 458 has the race pace to be a serious championship challenger in 2011.

He told BritishGT : “The car showed a lot of promise, Scuderia Vittoria’s Ferrari 458 won Race Two so you can see the car is quick. From our point of view it’s a disappointing race but we’ll bounce back, get a bit of testing with the car and push on for the next one.

“We made a couple of adjustments to the car which did make the car better in Race Two but it was a very messy race with the safety cars. The only race laps I got I was stuck behind Allan Simonsen who seemed to be struggling because I was a lot quicker but it’s just very difficult to overtake round here.

Scuderia Vittoria showed the 458 was quick with a win in Race Two © Jakob Ebrey

Scuderia Vittoria showed the 458 was quick with a win in Race Two © Jakob Ebrey

With pace good in the second race Griffin and Cameron were looking to push on for the podium but a tactical error in the pitlane mayhem and then a car failure put paid to any ambitions of points.

Griffin concluded: “When the safety car came out again we pitted and I think we made a slight mistake as a team in pitting a lap late which put us down the pack and wrote off the race.

“Duncan had been doing a great job and was back up to sixth and then we had a small failure on the car. We don’t know what it is but well have a look when we get back.”





Harsh time penalty hits Trackspeed’s Bridgman and Fisken hard at Oulton Park

27 04 2011

Trackspeed hope the Fiskens sponsored Porsche will be a 2011 challenger

Trackspeed #2 Porsche's broken steering rack meant Race Two was touch and go before the penalty drama

A topsy-turvy weekend for Trackspeed ended in a demotion for the Porsche of Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman after cutting the track under the safety car.

Fisken and Bridgman had been shunted out of Race One by the aggressive Jones brothers at Lodge Corner with a broken steering rack and the team had worked tirelessly to get the car into Race Two.

A delivery of a new part from Liverpool and a pitlane start got Bridgman out on track and when the first safety car was deployed he raced around the circuit to catch the pack up again.

However, a trip across the Fosters Loop which shortened the lap and enabled him to reach the snail of cars before the safety car pitted cost the team a minute time penalty from the stewards after the race.

The Trackspeed made up a host of other places in the race with some great team tactics during the pit stops under the second safety car and ended the race fifth, the penalty dropping them to tenth.

Bridgman spoke on Twitter this morning (April 27) detailing his disappointment at the penalty and believes that because the safety car did not let him passed straight away he should have been within his rights to make up the lost time.

He tweeted:#2 Car received a 1 minute penalty for race 2 @ Oulton Park. Apparently for using the fosters loop to catch the back of the S/C crocodile which was only something I had to do because the safety car took 2 laps to realise they needed to let me past!!! Not happy.”

Fisken told BritishGT after the race that he had been pleased with what they had achieved given how close it was to not racing and thought they had escaped a penalty as the Team Manager had been given the all clear at Race Control.

British GT debutant Bridgman has had success in multiple championships

Bridgman felt the penalty was unwarranted and is unhappy with demotion after such as strong team performance

He said:The guys were still working on the car as the race was starting and the early safety car gave us time to work on the car and then Tim managed to catch up on the back of the pack.

“Some great team strategy in the second safety car incident meant we were the first car to pit and that got us back 50 seconds and at one point we were running as third but dropped back to fifth.

“But with no time to put the floor on the car the aerodynamics didn’t work very well and the steering was crabbing on it but the car was still good so we’re very happy. Out of the ashes we’ve rescued P5 and some valuable points.

“The Team Manager was called to Race Control because at the beginning of the race to catch up Tim was doing a very quick lap and hammering it but I think we will be ok and there doesn’t look like there will be a reprimand.”

With the penalty costing them championship points in Race Two, the crash in Race One will hurt even more and Fisken had little time for the Jones brothers who had broken the car, in another display of their aggressive driving style which is extremely unpopular in the paddock.

He added: “I’ve had a polite chat with them [the Jones brothers] about it but we had some friends down at Lodge who said that Tim [Bridgman] was two car lengths clear before they hit him.”





Difficult weekend for Wilcox as broken damper before qualifying ruins plans

26 04 2011

Adam Wilcox on the pit wall at Oulton Park

Wilcox had a tough time at Oulton Park with car problems blighting the weekend

ADAM Wilcox endured a testing Easter in the opening two rounds of the British GT season at Oulton Park this weekend.

Wilcox and teammate Phil Burton finished tenth and eighth in the two rounds on Easter Monday but the weekend was dogged by mechanical problems.

A suspension problem caused by a rear damper breaking immediately before qualifying on Saturday set the tone for the rest of the event at the Cheshire track.

The Predator CCTV Racing team managed to borrow a new damper from another outfit in the paddock but with no time to set it up Wilcox qualified a respectable eighth, later promoted to sixth after a disqualification and an engine failure of two rivals.

Wilcox was disappointed with the lack of race pace given pre-season testing displays which had shown their Ferrari 430 Scuderia to be one of the quickest.

He told BritishGT: “It was a bit disappointing really because we tested two weeks ago at Snetterton and were flying so we were all a bit bewildered when we came here on Saturday and struggled.

“We found we had a problem with one of the dampers on Saturday right before qualifying and borrowed one off somebody else for qualifying but we didn’t know the settings on it, it was literally a mad rush to put it on and get going.

“Once the race started I was able to hang onto the cars in front but I didn’t have the pace to challenge them and I don’t really know why.”

The Ferrari 430 Scuderia had looked quick in testing but a broken rear damper scuppered a podium

The Ferrari 430 Scuderia had looked quick in testing but a broken rear damper scuppered a podium

The second race of the day was a dramatic affair with two safety cars inside the opening 20 minutes causing a pit lane scramble to make the mandatory driver change, ultimately costing Wilcox and Burton valuable time and places.

He explained: “It was a shame because first and second came in and I screamed right up to the back of them in the pits and was right on the gearbox of second, I probably made five or six seconds on the pit entry.

“I got out and Phil got in and for some reason we couldn’t get the belts closed so I don’t know if they got stuck or something but it took two or three of us to get it done and get Phil back out on track.

“We came in fifth behind the Simonsen car but he came out in fourth and we came out in 15th so it’s just unlucky.”

Despite scoring points and not going home empty handed, Wilcox admits that that is not the aim for 2011 and is hoping for an improvement in a fortnight at Snetterton.

He concluded: “We don’t want to be ninth, we want to be first. We struggled more than I thought we would this weekend, I thought we would be right up there but we’ll work it on it for the next one.

“We’ll get our dampers back and get them all redone and have a good go at Snetterton and hope we can pick up where we left off in testing where we were flying and get a much better result there.”





Debut win for Lyons and Bateman in new Ferrari 458 as safety car causes pit drama

25 04 2011

Lyons and Bateman celebrate a debut victory for Scuderia Vittoria's Ferrari 458

Lyons and Bateman celebrate a debut victory for Scuderia Vittoria's Ferrari 458

BRITISH GT debutant Michael Lyons and Charles Bateman took the checkered flag in their Ferrari 458 for maximum points in an eventful Race Two at Oulton Park.

Lyons and Bateman had started at the back of the grid but early safety cars and pitlane drama left the field turned on its head and the Scuderia Vittoria team ended the race 20 seconds clear of the Jones brothers, with Michael Gausch’s Audi completing the podium.

A first corner crash for the KTM of Marcus Clutton forced the safety car out but it did not effect the leaders, Richard Westbrook led the field from the restart and set a new lap record, a 1.38.491. Westbrook in the Race One-winning Trackspeed Porsche opened up a big lead before the second safety car in 20 minutes caused mayhem.

With 23 minutes on the clock the pit lane opened and all the cars bar four dived into the pit lane to make their driver changes and try to gain positions with a quick switch.

The biggest winner was the Trackspeed Porsche of Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman who had started from the pitlane after a broken steering rack in Race One had left the team with a rebuild moments before the start.

Bridgman had benefited from the first safety car by catching the back of the pack but the second worked even better as he pitted on the lap the safety car was deployed and allowed Fisken to rejoin in third position.

The lightning quick United Autosports Audi was one of the cars not to stop and lost out, the fact Michael Gausch made it back up to third shows how with a bit more tactical nous, they could have won the race.

The race was full of drama even after the safety car had returned to the pits. Hector Lester spun from second place and David Ashburn got a stop/go penalty for not waiting long enough during the pitstop which dropped him back to fifth.

The MTECH Racing Ferrari 458 of Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron which had been so quick in the second half of Race One was going well before a mechanical problem forced them out promoting more cars into points paying positions.

And with the clock ticking down there was just time for Fisken to run wide and allow Ashburn and Guasch past.

Westbrook led the field from the restart after the first safety car

Westbrook led the field from the restart after the first safety car

All the incident happened behind the race winner though, Lyons who drove superbly in his first race was understandably delighted with the result.

Lyons told BritishGT after the podium celebrations: “I’ve seen three cars in a GT career so I can’t complain! The pit stop worked out perfect, from my point of view it couldn’t have gone better.

“I thought podium was on the cards before the race but that safety car really helped us out. The car is coming along really well. We’ve done no running in the car and it’s already there, I can’t wait for Snetterton.”

In GT4, Freddy Nordstrom and Leyton Clarke believed they had won in their Lotus Evora but a yellow flag infringement demoted them to second behind Jake Rattenbury and Josh Wakefield in a Century Motorsport Ginetta G50.

The Anthony Reid/Jordan Witt Chevron GR8 had another solid finish in 12th having run in the top ten for most of the incident filled race.

Race Two Results

GT3

1  Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari  Michael Lyons/Charles Bateman  1h 0m 18.610s / 85.70mph

2  Preci-Spark Mercedes  David Jones/Godfrey Jones  +21.633s

3  United Autosports Audi  Mike Guasch (USA)/Matt Bell  +30.411s

4  Trackspeed Porsche  David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook  +36.125s

5  CRS Racing Ferrari  Jim Geddie/Glynn Geddie  +50.527s

6  CRS Racing Ferrari  Andrew Tate/Alex Mortimer  +1m 06.906s

7  Rosso Verde Ferrari  Hector Lester/Allan Simonsen (DEN)  +1m 12.725s

8  Predator CCTV Ferrari  Phil Burton/Adam Wilcox  +1m 19.535s

9  Century Motorsport Ginetta  Freddie Hetherington/Julien Draper  +1m 23.238s

10  Trackspeed Porsche  Gregor Fisken/Tim Bridgman  +1m 45.222s

Fastest lap: Westbrook 1m 38.491s / 98.39mph

GT Cup

1  Chevron Racing Chevron  Jordan Witt/Anthony Reid  31 laps

GT3B

1  MTECH Ferrari  John Dhillon/Aaaron Scott  30 laps

GT4

1  Century Motorsport Ginetta  Josh Wakefield/Jake Rattenbury  31 laps

2  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  Leyton Clarke/Freddy Nordstrom  31 laps

3  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  Ollie Jackson/Jack Drinkall  31 laps

4  ABG Motorsport KTM  Athanasios Ladas (GRE)/Michael Mallock  30 laps





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