Nigel Moore looks like the man to beat in the Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup at the moment with his third win in four rounds in Round 23 of the series at Donington Park. After winning twice last time at Knockhill, the guest driver's confidence was high and it showed, the former champion grabbing the lead on lap one, before comfortably handling two safety car periods to take the victory.
After the earlier qualifying session, there were some unusual suspects at the front of the grid. Championship newcomer Chrissy Palmer, Former Formula Ford Festival Winner, took pole on his G50 debut, beating Matt Blyth Motorsport team-mate Dan Denis by a minimal 0.005 seconds. IDL's Tom Sharp took third, just 0.098 seconds behind Palmer, with Moore fourth and Chris Dittmann fifth. For the title contenders, it looked like the race could be tough, with Carl Breeze only seventh and Frank Wrathall eleventh.
Palmer got a good start to lead the pack towards Redgate for the first time, but was instantly under pressure from Denis and Sharp for the first time. Sharp took second from Denis, before then passing Palmer through Hollywood for the lead. Palmer was to lose out again, with Moore getting past him and Denis into second. The Tockwith driver then set about passing Sharp for the lead, doing so at the newly-configured chicane at the end of the first lap.
The action on the first lap wasn't just confined to the front of the field, with a multi-car tangle between Freddie Hetherington, Aaron Williamson and Colin White forcing the deployment of the safety car. Hetherington limped back to the pits with a broken suspension, ending in retirement, with Williamson and White able to continue, the latter dropping behind Chairman's cup rivals Tony Hughes and debutant Mark Jessop.
Moore led the way behind the safety car, followed by Sharp, Palmer, Ditmann and Benji Hetherington. As the race restarted, Moore led away, with a determined Hetherington making a superb move at Redgate to move into second. With the battle for second rumbling on over the lap, Moore was able to pull out a gap, though this was quickly cut short with the reappearance of the safety car.
It was caused by another multi car tangle, this time at the Chicane, between the trio of Sharp, Dittmann and Palmer. They had been battling hard for the final podium place, but all three's races ended up in early retirement. With cars going in every direction to avoid the incident, Breeze emerged from the dust in a surprise second place, with Hetherington third and Adam Morgan up to fourth.
After a long clear up operation, the safety car disappeared from track on lap 11, with Moore again judging his restart well to lead away, followed by Breeze, Hetherington, Morgan, Mark Davies and Joachim Ritter, with title protagonist Wrathall up to seventh, looking to gain as many points as possible.
As they entered the penultimate lap, Breeze began suffering electrical problems, affecting the performance of his G50. Hetherington took advantage at Redgate to take second, before the problem seemed to have fixed itself, allowing Breeze to try and regain the place. It turned out the problem hadn't. As they entered Schwatz Curve for the final time, Breeze's car slowed dramatically. As car's passed him through Coppice and onto the back straight, including title rival Wrathall, the Total Control Racing's was left with no alternative but to try and coast his car home.
At the front, Moore was having no such problems, winning by just under 2 seconds for his third win of the season. With Moore not registered for Championship points, Century Motorsport's Hetherington took full points with second place, his eleventh podium of the season. After Breeze's demise, it was Morgan who benefited most to take third place, his sixth podium of the year. Davies finished fourth, a great result after starting 10th, ahead of Ritter, Wrathall and Denis. Chairman's Cup competitors Jessop, Hughes and White rounded out the top 10, with former MR2 racer Jessop taking a superb class win on his debut in the series. Breeze managed to finish a lowly 13th, in the process dropping 10 points in the championship battle to Wrathall.
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography