The 2010 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup is shaping up to be a real classic. After 14 hard fought rounds, Carl Breeze leads the way, but has rival Frank Wrathall hot on his heels. With the introduction of a guest car, driven by various top name British drivers, and the introduction of a reverse grid for the third race at each meeting for 2010, the series has built upon the good foundations it made during its debut year on the BTCC package in 2009, and has become one of the highlights of the package. It's billing on the package, and the subsequent live coverage on ITV4, helped the series attract a whole host of new drivers for 2010. Despite all the new talent, it has been two of the stars from 2009 than have taken control of the series.
The series started back at the beginning of April at the fastest circuit in the country, Thruxton. The weekend was dominated by the first driver in the guest car, Rob Huff. The touring car ace came, saw and conquered, with 3 wins out of 3, a remarkable feat considering he hadn't stepped foot in the car before the weekend started. With the guest driver not scoring championship points, it was Wrathall who left Thruxton with the championship lead, after two second places and a seventh, ahead of Chris Dittmann and Breeze.
Wrathall stretched his championship lead at the next round at Rockingham. The Dynojet driver won the first race of the weekend, closely followed by Breeze, with the positions switched for race two. Wrathall got back on the top step in race three, with Breeze again his closest competitor. Behind, Benji Hetherington showed his pace with two third place finishes, with Wrathall's team mate Adam Morgan picking up the other podium finish for the weekend.
It was at Brands Hatch in early May when the title pendulum first swung Breeze's way. A victory in the first race was made even better with Wrathall forced to retire with mechanical problems. The second race was Breeze's again, though a brilliant recovery drive from the back of the grid saw Wrathall come home fourth. In race three, it was Wrathall's turn to taste the winner's champagne and Breeze's turn to face mechanical problems, forcing him to finish a lowly 13th. Despite this though, Breeze was able to leave with the championship lead, though only holding a small advantage. Apart from the top two, the star of the weekend at Brands was Benji Hetherington, who continued to show his great pace with two thirds and a second, making it five podiums out of six for him.
The series moved onto Oulton Park, a weekend dominated by Breeze, a year after his horrible accident at the same circuit. For the first time in the season, the championship only had two races over the course of the meeting, both of which Breeze won in comprehensive style, with Wrathall scoring two solid second places, limiting Breeze's advantage at the top of the points standing. It was left to Dittmann and Stephen Tyldsley to complete the podiums, the latter's first ever G50 podium.
As the series reached the last round before the summer break at Croft, it was left for a couple of new drivers to take the plaudits, with the title protagonists forced to a back seat. First of all it was Tom Sharp, who scored his first ever G50 win in the first race, before doubling his tally in the second. Race three saw Adam Morgan pick up his first ever victory too, making it a weekend for the record books. Behind them, the other star of the show was Stefan Hodgetts, appearing in the guest car for the weekend, who picked up second place in all three races and remained a constant challenger for the wins. This left the title rivals to pick up the scraps, with Breeze picking up three third places, to extend his title lead, with Wrathall getting two fourths and a fifth.
As they enter the summer break, the standings look like this:
|12||Colin White (CC)||136|
|18||Tony Hughes (CC)||49|
|26||Dave McGuire (CC)||2|
The battle for the title looks like it could go all the way. Both drivers look capable of delivering the championship and their battle is sure to be one of the highlights of the 2010 BTCC package. Beyond the title battle, both Sharp and Morgan will be looking to build on their wins and challenge for more wins and podiums, while the likes of the Hetherington brothers, Dittmann and Tyldsley will be looking to get themselves on the podium as often as possible and possibly snatch a win.
Here's our choice of three drivers to look out for over the second half of the season:
1. Tom Sharp – Sharp has shown some good pace all season, including picking up two second places at Brands Hatch, but was finally able to convert his pace into wins at Croft. Full of confidence, the IDL driver will be looking to pick up some more wins in the second half of the season and will definitely be one to watch. He may be too far back for a charge at the title, but will be trying to upset the odds as much as possible.
2. Adam Morgan – Morgan might turn out to be one of the key players for the remainder of the 2010 season. After showing good pace all season, like Sharp, he was finally able to convert it into a win at Croft. Morgan could be a key in helping Dynojet team-mate Wrathall's attempts at winning the title. If he can continue his form and secure some more podiums, taking points off Breeze in the process, he could perform the perfect wingman job for the team.
3. Alice Powell – Moving into the series from the Formula Renaults, Alice encountered a steep learning curve and initially found it hard to establish herself in the series. However as the season has progressed, Alice has grown in confidence and become a consistent top 10 finisher, with her best results a couple of seventh place finishes. Alice will be looking to build on these in the second half of the season and will be one to look out for, as she looks to push on the door of the top five, and maybe even the podium.