The battle for the 2010 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup looks like it might go all the way this season following another hard fought three races at Snetterton. Two wins for championship leader Carl Breeze extended his advantage at the top, but a race three win for Frank Wrathall and a points penalty for Breeze has cut his advantage to only 17 points at the top.
It was Breeze who qualified on pole for Round 15 at his home circuit. He was joined on the front row by Benji Hetherington, who lapped just 0.037 seconds slower, with Optimum's Mark Davies and Wrathall making up row two.
Breeze started well, with Hetherington holding off Davies for second. Davies applied pressure well throughout the first lap though and forced Hetherington into a mistake at the Esses, with the Century Motorsport man sliding wide and dropping of contention, though the delay allowed Wrathall to move past Davies into second. Davies was to lose another spot on lap three, with Phil Broad sliding past for third.
At the front, Breeze began to pull away; building up a two second lead by lap four, but this was quickly eroded with the introduction of the safety car. Contact between the guest car, this weekend driven by chief technical offer of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team Adrian Newey, and Barwell Motorsport's Julien Draper led to the introduction, with Newey later receiving points on his license for his part in the incident.
After the restart, Breeze remained under constant pressure from Wrathall and Broad. Behind, Davies was to lose another place on lap 11, with Freddie Hetherington finding a way past for fourth. Further back, the man on the move was Stephen Tyldsley, the HHC Motorsport driver working his way up from eleventh on the grid to seventh.
At the front though, it was Breeze who crossed the line the winner, holding off the pressure from Wrathall, who finished just ahead of Broad in third. Hetherington followed in fourth, ahead of Davies, Tom Sharp, Tyldsley and Adam Morgan. In ninth was former BTCC Matt Allison, making his debut in the series in a one round deal after a two year break from racing, while Alice Powell rounded off the top ten. The unfortunate Benji Hetherington finished a lowly 16th after another moment later in the race.
With the results of race one determining the grid for race two, it was the two title rivals Breeze and Wrathall on the front row, with Broad and Freddie Hetherington on row two. The race began on a drying track after earlier rain, with Breeze again making the best start to lead the field as they entered Riches for the first time.
He nearly threw away his lead though, a mistake on lap one making him overshoot the Esses, though he just able to get back on track ahead of Wrathall. The main driver to lose out on lap one was Broad, dropping from third on the grid to eighth by the end of the lap.
At the front, the top two were running nose to tail during the early stages, though this was about to change on lap five, with the pair colliding in the braking point of Sear corner. This pitched Wrathall's car into a spin, dropping him out of the top ten, though Breeze was able to continue in the lead unharmed. This elevated Sharp into second and Morgan into third, the pair both working their way up the field well after starting sixth and eighth on the grid respectively.
The man on the move was Wrathall, keen to work his way up the field for some much needed points after the contact. Dropping as low as 13th, he was up to ninth by the end of lap seven and overtook Freddie Hetherington for fifth place on lap thirteen.
However at the front, Breeze had no such problems, coasting away at the front to win by over 10 and a half seconds for his seventh victory of the season. Sharp held on for a solid second, with Dynojet's Morgan third. Davies held off the advances of Wrathall behind for fourth, with Hetherington completing the top six. Aaron Williamson finished seventh, working his way up from twelth on the grid, with Colin White finishing eighth, picking up his second Chairmans Cup victory of the day. Dan Denis and Powell completed the top ten.
After the race, a 10 point penalty was placed on Breeze for his part in the collision with Wrathall, cutting his advantage at the top of the standings to 24 points heading into the third race of the weekend.
The reverse grid for race three saw the top six reversed, putting Century Motorsport's Freddie Hetherington on pole, with Wrathall joining him on the front row. Davies and Morgan made up row two, with IDL's Sharp and Total Control Racing's Breeze on row three.
Hetherington started well to lead in Riches, with Davies passing Wrathall off the line for second. As they approached the Esses for the first time, Davies made a move for the lead, but slight contact between the two pushed them wide, allowing Wrathall to shoot past into the lead. Hetherington held onto second, while Davies lost out, dropping down the order.
Sharp moved into third, ahead of Morgan, Breeze and Williamson. Breeze was quick to make a move up the order, despite suffering from a dislodged bonnet, moving past Morgan for fourth on lap three, before taking third from Sharp a lap later. This pushed Sharp into the clutches of Morgan, the two fighting hard for position before Morgan ran wide at Riches on lap five, dropping him down the order.
Morgan was eager to make up for his mistake and lap seven looked to pass Benji Hetherington for seventh at Riches, but contact between the two pitched him into the barriers, the incident causing retirement for both cars. Also forced into early retirements on lap seven were Powell and Broad.
At the front, Wrathall was pulling away, though was soon to be chased by Breeze, with the Kings Lynn based driver making a strong pass on Hetherington at the Esses on lap eight. Breeze began to close to within a second of Wrathall and looked the quicker driver, though the race was soon to have a premature end.
As they headed around lap nine, a heavy accident at Sear saw the red flags come out and the race ended early. Locking up under braking, Draper tagged the back of Newey's guest car while attacking for tenth, with Newey's car put into a spin. Unsighted to this, the innocent Tony Hughes had nowhere to go, hitting the side of Newey's car, causing substantial damage to both cars. With the doctors quick on the scene, Newey was taken to hospital for precautionary checks after the heavy contact, but suffered no serious injures. Despite two laps under the safety car, with the doctors on scene and considerable debris on circuit, the race had to be red flagged, with the result declared after eleven racing laps.
This gave Wrathall the win, his fourth of the season and first since Brands Hatch in May. Breeze finished a good second, with Freddie Hetherington securing his maiden G50 podium finish in third. Williamson took a solid fourth for FML, with White a superb fifth, winning the Chairman's Cup honours again in the process. Tyldsley finished sixth, after a great drive through the field from 18th in the grid, ahead of Denis, Joachim Ritter, Davies and Draper. Contact with Williamson just before the race was ended saw Sharp drop down to 12th.
After three action packed races, its Breeze who leads the standings, though only 17 points ahead of Wrathall. Despite 12th in race three, Sharp's second in race two saw him move into the top three of the championship, with Benji Hetherington dropping to fourth after a tough weekend.
Next up for the G50 stars are three races at the Silverstone National Circuit in Northamptonshire on 21st/22nd August, with fans looking forward to more exciting racing as the championship battle heats up.
Provisional 2010 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup Championship Positions (after Rd17):
1st Carl Breeze, 495pts
2nd Frank Wrathall, 478pts
3rd Tom Sharp, 328pts
4th Benji Hetherington, 285pts
5th Adam Morgan, 272pts
6th Freddie Hetherington, 232pts