Though the three car effort they graced the earlier rounds of the British GT Championship with have been coppiced back to single Ferrari 430 Scuderia Chad Racing romped to their first victory of the year in the first of the series' races at Snetterton.
The remaining car – the no.21 STP-liveried Ferrari – started the hour long race from third on the grid in the hands of Dan Brown, but had quickly taken the lead in the opening laps. The four Ferraris entered for the weekend are clearly the class of the field in the dry conditions – the quartet almost certainly only missing out on pole position due to the wet track that benefitted the Jones brothers Ascari yesterday.
“It [Snetterton] is perfect for the Ferraris,” Brown said. “It's got a lot of power, a lot of straights. It gets a lot of its time there and when you get to the corners you make up a quick lap time.”
Still, despite the advantage enjoyed by the Prancing Horse, the Essex based team still had work to do after only qualifying fifth for the day's later race – a session that took place on a dry track
“We did a lot of work on the car overnight actually,” said Brown after the race. “We were struggling yesterday and as soon as they brought the car out this morning it was spot on.”
“Spot on” saw the car (and Brown) past the Rollcentre Mosler at the Esses on the first lap and taking the lead, passing David Jones in the Preci-Spark Ascari, at the same point a lap later. Straight away their speed was in evidence. In the less than half a lap around the exit of the Esses, the Bomb Hole, Corum and Russell, Brown had pulled out a 0.7 second lead over the Ascari, and the advantage only grew from there.
Even when Martin Short took second from the Ascari on lap five the Chevrolet engined supercar could make little impression on the leader. For a mere handful of lap the gap started to fall, before growing again at faster and faster rate, Brown a second faster than Short by the end of the Ferrari man's stint – coming into hand over to Tom Ferrier.
The Ascari's slide came to stop in third, first holding off, then pulling away from the success ballast laden Porsche of David Ashburn and Glynn Geddie – Trackspeed never looked likely to add to their tally of wins.
However, the Jones car was not to last. After 15 laps the silver Ascari slowed on the exit of Corum and toured into the pits. The lack of urgency in the team was telling. The car pushed from the pitlane with what co-driver Godfrey Jones described as an “unknown vibration”, which then became confirmed as another of the engine problems that have blighted the defending champions' 2010 – their participation in the second race now in doubt as well.
The mandatory pitstops were uneventful for the GT3 class, but proved more decisive in G4. The Speedworks Ginetta of Jamie Stanley and Christian Dick had led the way from the start with a battle for second between the Hetherighton brothers' Century Motorsport Ginetta and the Appleby Engineering Aston Martin on its debut.
But, reportedly suffering from tyre shake the Aston team opted for a longer pitstop, working on the (presumably offending) left front, slipping from the leaders.
After the stops the top two had remained unchanged, put the Porsche, now with Geddie at the wheel had slipped down the order – most importantly behind Ashburn's title rivals – Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron in the Mtech Ferrari and they, as well as the Ferrari's of Allan Simonsen and Adam Wilcox were gaining on the Mosler in second. The Dane was the fastest of the bunch, setting the fastest lap (1:07.894) of the race in chasing the Mosler.
Then Snetterton began to take its toll on the leaders – especially the supposedly superior Ferraris. Cameron was the first to fall – a left front puncture tearing the bodywork apart as he brought the car back to the pits. He was able to rejoin, but had fallen from the lead lap and lost a promising chance to rein in Ashburn's lead.
The debris from the Ferrari, scattered the length of the Revett Straight, brought the Safety Car out, deleting the 21 second lead Ferrier held over Gregor Fisken, who had taken over the Mosler. He was spared the worst of the possible pressure – four cars (two from G4, the damaged Cameron and the delayed Viper of Aaron Scott) between the two leaders under the safety car sparing him.
Still bottled up behind the Mosler the Ferrari's continued to self destruct as both Wilcox and Simonsen attempted to pass Fisken at the Esses.
“We were both trying to get past him,” described Simonsen. “Wilcox went around the outside of the left hander and I stayed really close to Wilcox and went for the gap as well. Basically as we turned into the right hander I was side by side with the Mosler, he stayed around on the outside and then his rear wheel took my front bumper off.”
The Ferraris front bumper drunkenly askew, half fell off on the pit straight, the remnants wrapped around the right hand side of the car, though according to Simonsen – aside from a lack of downforce – the car suffered no ill effect and the remains of the bumper clung on as the car finished second. Burton's black Ferrari had looked to have second place to itself – free of the fight behind the Mosler, which still included Simonsen, but a driveshaft failure ended their race just two minutes early – another car potentially in doubt for the second race of the day.
Their failure, and finally getting past the Mosler gave the Team RPM Ford GT of Alex Mortimer and Philip Walker something of an unexpected podium behind the two Ferraris, the Ford struggling early in the race on a track that is more about speed than the nimbleness the Ford is known for around Europe.
The race's last twist was reserved for the Mosler, an apparent gearbox failure crippling the car on the final lap, Fisken desperately trying to limp the car home only to fall short by a matter of car lengths, still holding onto sixth ahead of the Viper and Ferrari casualties.
G4 ended as a contest when the Hetherington's car was gifted a lap by the safety car. The brothers avenged their Silverstone disqualification atop an all-Ginetta podium with the other Century car of Nathan Freke and Vibe Smed. Joe Osbourne and Rob Brown finished third in class, the early leaders in the Speedworks car struggling with a lack of grip in the closing stages. The Aston Martin finished fourth in class.