TCR's Carl Breeze moves into the lead of the 2010 Ginetta G50 Championship after two wins around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. A victory for Frank Wrathall in the final race of the weekend leaves him hot on his heels, with just four points between them at the top of the standings.
In qualifying, there was nothing to choose between the two, with Breeze taking pole position from Wrathall by just 0.021 seconds. They took the front row of the grid for Round 7, followed by Chris Dittman and Tom Sharp on row two, with Benji Hetherington and Joachim Ritter behind on row three.
It all went wrong for Wrathall before the race had even begun though, as the cars lined up for the formation lap, Wrathall was forced to get pushed into the pits, with a fuel leak ending his race before it began. This left Breeze on his own on the front row and allowed him to make the jump from the start into the lead, followed by Dittmann, Hetherington and Sharp. Behind them, contact for Ritter on the opening lap left him hitting the barriers on the way up Hailwood Hill, and although able to continue, damage to his car left him off the pace.
As Breeze and Dittmann made a break, pressure from Sharp on Hetherington finally made off, with Sharp making a move at Druids on Lap three to take third. The top four then began to break away from those behind. Dittmann beginning to apply real pressure on Breeze during the mid part of the race, but was unable to find a way past, while behind, Sharp had to defend hard to keep Hetherington at bay.
After a great performance, Dittmann's race was going to come to a disappointing end, having to pull off track with a mechanical problem on the final lap. This left Breeze to complete the rest of the lap unchallenged to gain his second victory of the season. Sharp finished second, with Century Motorsport's Hetherington coming third, his third podium of the season. Stephen Tyldsley came home fourth, with Adam Morgan fifth and Aaron Williamson sixth. Chairman's Cup honours went to Colin White in seventh, with Alice Powell, Freddie Hetherington and guest driver Simon Hill rounding out the top ten.
With the grid for Round 8 being formed from the finishing positions of the previous race, it was Breeze who started from pole, though this left some quick drivers towards the back of the grid, with Dittmann starting twelfth, Ritter thirteenth and Wrathall all the way back on the final row in seventeenth.
A good start by Breeze put him into the lead as they entered Paddock Hill Bend for the first time, with Sharp and Benji Hetherington close behind. The three of them quickly broke away in the early stages, leaving behind a battle for fourth place between Morgan and Williamson, with Williamson finally getting the place on lap five. Behind, the man on the move was Wrathall. Into the top ten within two laps of the start, the Dynojet driver was quickly catching team-mate Morgan for fifth place. He made his move on lap seven, getting the spot with ease, though Morgan lost a bit of time and a few places in the process.
Back at the front, a terrific battle was emerging at the front, with Breeze and Sharp running nose to tail lap by lap, with Breeze able to hold off whatever Sharp had to throw at him. As the race entered its final stages, the fight for fourth place was on. Century Motorsport's Williamson, who had held on to the spot all race, was facing real pressure from Wrathall and finally buckled on lap thirteen, getting passed at Sheene.
It was Breeze who came home for the win, closely followed by Sharp in second and Benji Hetherington in third, a repeat of the podium from the day's earlier race. Wrathall's brilliant recovery drive saw him come fourth, with Williamson fifth and Tyldsley sixth. Morgan, Freddie Hetherington, Julien Draper and Dittmann rounded off the top ten, with guest driver Simon Hill finishing fourteenth to win the Chairman's Cup honours.
After a night's sleep, the drivers arrived at track on Sunday ahead of the meetings final race greeted by torrential rain, causing extremely tricky track conditions. With just the top five reversed, it was former Ginetta Junior driver Williamson who started on pole, with Wrathall joining him on the front row. For the second time in the weekend, drama unfolded before the race began, this time title contender Breeze forced to head to the pitlane at the end of the green flag lap with an ignition problem.
A good start by Wrathall saw him leapfrog Williamson as they entered Paddock Hill to take the lead, with Williamson losing another spot at the next corner to team mate Benji Hetherington, before a mistake at Clark Curve in the tricky conditions forced him wide, dropping him to eighth in the process. Many other drivers had problems acclimatising to the conditions on the first lap, with Powell, Freddie Hetherington, Sharp and Draper all having their own trips over the grass. Another driver to lose out on lap one was White, with contact forcing him to retire, bringing the safety car out in the process.
Wrathall controlled the restart to build a small advantage from the group behind, but was halted by another safety car a few laps later, this time due to Ritter beaching his car in the gravel trap at Druids. With the car moved out of harms way, Wrathall produced another good restart, again creating a small gap to the car behind him. Annoyingly for the Dynojet driver, this was again short lived. A battle between Tyldsley and Williamson for fifth place came to blows at Stirling's Bend, with the result being the end of the race for Tyldsley and the emergence onto track of the safety car again.
For the third time, Wrathall had to deal with a restart, but dealt with it perfectly again, pulling away from the rest of the pack. He controlled the remaining five laps, dealing brilliantly with the treacherous conditions to come home for his third victory of the season. Benji Hetherington took a fine second, becoming the only driver to feature on the podium in each of the weekend's round, with CDR's Dittmann finishing third. Morgan came fourth, with a superb drive by Alice Powell putting her fifth, her best result in the G50's so far. Draper finished sixth, with Williamson seventh, while a superb drive by the guest driver, ITV commentator Simon Hill, won him his second Chairman's Cup victory in eighth. Mark Davies and Matt Draper rounded off the top ten, while, after rejoining the race a lap down after solving his car's problem, Breeze came home in thirteenth.
As the series heads to Oulton Park in Cheshire for the next three rounds of the series on June 5th/6th, it's Breeze who heads the championship, but is just four points ahead of Wrathall. A strong weekend puts Benji Hetherington third in the standings, with Sharp fourth and Dittmann fifth.
Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography