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Benji Hetherington Comes Out Top As Title Rivals Collide

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Benji Hetherington took his first ever win in the Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup with victory in Round 19 at Silverstone, though the main talking point after the race was contact between title rivals Carl Breeze and Frank Wrathall, that forced the latter into retirement, while leaving the former to stage a recovery drive through the field as he extended his title lead.

It was Wrathall and Breeze who shared the front row of the grid, with Hetherington close behind in third. He was joined on the second row by Matt Blyth Motorsport's Dan Denis, with team mate Phil Broad fifth and Mark Davies sixth.

As the lights went out, Wrathall made the best start, leading into Copse for the first time, with Breeze and Hetherington side by side behind. Breeze held onto the spot, Hetherington slotting in behind ahead of Denis.

Despite trying to make an early getaway, Wrathall was unable to shake off Breeze, with the two running nose to tail over the opening lap. As they headed on to lap two, Breeze was eager to get ahead and made a move down the outside as they headed to Brooklands.

The Total Control Racing driver looked to be edging ahead as they exited the corner, but with Wrathall trying to squeeze him out, contact was inevitable, the two touching, pitching both into the grass at the entrance to Luffield. As they returned to the tarmac, Breeze was pitched into a spin, while Wrathall was powerless to stop his car rolling into the gravel, due to a broken right-rear upright from the initial contact. Wrathall was out instantly, his second DNF of the season, with Breeze dropping down to pack to 17th.

Benefiting from the contact was Hetherington, who quickly seized the lead ahead of Broad, who had passed Denis earlier in the lap. Behind them, Croft winners Tom Sharp and Adam Morgan were up to fourth and fifth respectively, with Nigel Moore, the 2008 G50 Cup champion, in sixth after a great opening couple of laps saw him move up the order from 12th on the grid.

Hetherington looked to get away, though team mate Broad kept with him, the two trading fast lap times. There was soon to be a change for third, with IDL's Sharp moving past Denis at Becketts on lap four, while behind, Moore gained another place, this time at the expense of Morgan for fifth. Moore's impressive race continued a lap later, swiftly overtaking Denis at Brooklands to move into fourth.

The pack was to be bunched up soon after though, with the decision to deploy the safety car as they removed Wrathall's car from the outside of Luffield. This was vital for Breeze, allowing him to get onto the back of the pack as he looked to work his way through the pack.

As the race restarted Moore was again on the move, passing Sharp at Brooklands for third, while behind Morgan moved up to fifth at the expense of Denis. Moore's great race was to come to a disappointing end soon after though, with a power steering failure forcing him back the pits and into retirement. However, he was still able to have one more effect on the race though. As he headed slowly back the pits, contact with Colin White and Mark Davies as he tried to avoid them pitched White into a spin, while the damage to Davies' car from the contact forced him to retire.

The retirements were aiding Breeze's recovery through the field though, with the championship leader working his way into the top ten by the end of lap 12. Another driver putting on an overtaking master class was Chris Dittmann. Mechanical woes in round 18 forced him to start at the back of the grid in 16th, but he soon worked his way up the field, moving into the top six on lap 16 at the expense of Freddie Hetherington. He was eager to get another place as the race reached its final lap, but as he went to move past Denis for fifth, he tagged the rear of Denis' car, which the stewards later deemed dangerous, handing Dittmann a six second penalty, ruining part of his good work.

At the front, there were no penalties for Hetherington, the Century Motorsport man holding off his team mate for his maiden G50 win. Broad came home third for his firs podium of the year, with Sharp third, in contrast his seventh podium of the season. Morgan finished close behind in fourth, with Freddie Hetherington fifth. Breeze came home sixth after a good recovery drive, with Aaron Williamson seventh and Denis recovering from his last lap tangle for eighth. After his penalty, Dittmann finished ninth, with Julien Draper tenth. After his earlier tangle, White recovered to pass Chairman's Cup rival Tony Hughes to take the class honours, the pair finishing 13th and 14th respectively.

As they head up north to Knockhill in Scotland for the next round of the series on 4th/5th September, it’s Breeze who leads the way, Wrathall's retirement giving him a 28 point advantage over the Dynojet man, with Sharp his next closest rival, a massive 150 points further back.

Provisional 2010 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup Championship Positions (after Rd19):
1st Carl Breeze, 543pts; 2nd Frank Wrathall, 515pts; 3rd Tom Sharp, 365pts; 4th Benji Hetherington, 332pts; 5th Adam Morgan, 310pts; 6th Freddie Hetherington, 264pts

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Simon provides coverage of the support championships for the BTCC, having been a fixture in the TOCA paddock for over six years.
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