Back in March, on the media launch of the 2010 British GT Championship, the green, white and black liveried Porsche of Trackspeed finished the afternoon's testing in a cloud of steam and/or smoke, being pushed back into the garage.
For those at Silverstone that day it probably seemed unlikely they had just watched the beginning of a title winning season, that ended with drivers David Asburn and Glynn Geddie first and second on the drivers' championship.
There was so much competition elsewhere in the series premier class for GT3 spec car. Reigning champions David and Godfrey Jones returned with their Ascari KZR1 prepared by Team Pyro, Piers Masarati's Chad Racing outfit began the season with an ambitious stable of three Ferrari's, two of the brand new 430 Scuderia and a year old car for the Argentine duo of Jose Manuel Balbiani and Juan Barriz.
The strong Ferrari challenge also included the Rosso Verde fielded effort of Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen and the MTECH 430 Scuderia of Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin.
And it was the classic red MTECH car which made the most of the opening races, held on the Easter Bank Holiday weekend at Oulton Park. Griffin and Cameron combined with great effect, taking both wins on offer despite a mechanical scare with a broken exhaust in race one. Lester and Simonsen took a pair of seconds.
David Ashburn – the man who would be king – was paired with Spaniard Siso Cunill for the weekend, taking a fifth in the season opener and the final step on the podium in the second race.
It was, however, a disasterous start to a title defence for the Jones twins.
David had led race one from pole position, with the familiar pace that made he and his brother champions in 2009, but it was shortly after Godfrey took the car over at half way that the car span out of the race at Druids, woe later compounded by a mechanical failure in race two after just six laps. It was the start of a horrid year.
The following meeting, at Knockhill, was a false dawn for the nimble Ascari. A pair of wins put them back in touch with early pace setters, MTECH, but the Team Preci-Spark car then suffered three consecutive 'did not starts' due to engine problems, knocking them out of the series' race at Spa, then from both races at Rockingham putting an end to any chance of successive titles.
More engine problems, though of a far more minor nature took them out of a competitive run at Snetterton. After all the suffering it was unsurpring to learn of the Ascari's shelving by the team in 2011, in favour of a new Mercedes SLS.
While the Jones twins were troubled during the summer, Ashburn and Trackspeed found form. Porsche Carrera Cup GB regular Glynn Geddie was bought on board for his local round at Knockhill, before signing up for the remainder of the year with the team ahead of the races at Rockingham.
In hindsight Geddie's arrival at the team may have been a turning point. The pair scored a pair of wins at the Northamptonshire oval venue, overcoming not only the normal fleet of Ferraris but also, by now, the Ford GT of RPM Motorsport and the Rollcentre Racing's Mosler – Martin Short continuing the car's in-again-out-again relationship with the championship.
A win in the two-hour double points race on the old Grand Prix track at Silverstone completed a string of three wins in a glorious peak in form for the team, which also included a second place at Spa – behind the winning Lamborghini of Peter Kox and Marc Hayek – and a win in the FIA GT3 European Championship at Silverstone.
The Porsche's speed drew a penalty in the form of ballast for Snetterton, with results dropping accordingly, the previously unstoppable duo collecting only a fourth and ninth from the two races. But by this point the championship battle had been whittled down until just the Cameron/Griffin pairing could cleave the title from Ashburn, who entered the August 30 raceday with a 26 point advantage.
But Cameron and Griffin were unable to take full advantage of the change in fortune. While they took the win from race two, they could only muster eighth in the first race after a spectacular left-front tyre failure on the Revett Straight – Cameron showing great control simply to keep the car on the track.
Instead the first race at Snetterton was the sole win of the year for Chad Racing. The three car effort had quietly ebbed away, leaving only the STP-backed 430 Scuderia, which Dan Brown and Tom Ferrier won comfortably in.
Ashburn's title was confirmed two races later at Brands Hatch. He and Geddie had scored a fourth win of the year as Trackspeed had taken a 1-2 finish in the first race (a second car introduced to help with the title push) and a fifth place – one position ahead of Cameron ad Griffin as enough to clinch the title with the two-hour twilight race at Donington Park still to go.
That final race – somewhat down on grid numbers as many teams chose to head into the off season early – was won by Lester and Simonsen's Ferrari, the Dane mounting a determined comeback driver from a lap down to take the lead in the closing minutes as the extra endurance of the race took its toll on many cars. Geddie and Ashburn – one of many suffering with gearbox problems by race's end – took second, place which was enough to lift Geddie into second in the points, despite missing three rounds of the championship.
In 2010 the Supersport and GT4 cars combined into a second class – G4 – but it was the GT4 spec Ginetta G50s that dominated much of the year. With five wins over the course of the season Jamie Stanley and Christian Dick, were comfortable champions, their 70 points very nearly double that of their nearest challenges. However, that deficit betrays the fragmented nature of their class rivals.
The Speedworks drivers were the only pair to run their whole 13 race championship. The car that should have been their title rivals – Nathan Freke and Vibe Smed's Century Motorsport entry – only got the better of Stanley and Dick twice and was crippled by mechanical problems throughout the season meaning that despite only missing the race at Spa, they were pipped to second in the points standing by Rory Butcher and Benjamin Harvey who contested only six races in their KTM X-Bow.
Their season was typical of most of the G4 field. Competitve entries from Piranha Motorsports (a Lotus 2-Eleven) and Chad Racing (another KTM) could only complete limited schedules, while the Hetherington brothers – Benji and Freddie joined the series for the closing rounds, picking up three wins for Century Motorsports, but – by that point – far, far too late to provide the sort of meaningful opposition for the title they could have done.
Here's TCF's choice of the top five British GT drivers and driver pairings in 2010:
1. Glynn Geddie – His joining Trackspeed was probably the moment which secured the title for David Ashburn. The BRDC Rising Star almost immediately installed himself among the fastest drivers in the championship.
2. Allan Simonsen – The quick Dane was exactly that again in 2010. However, problems with the Rosso Verde Ferrari, and the speed of his rivals often left him off the top spot. Superlative comeback drive at Donington showed his real ability.
3. David Ashburn – Geddie was not the only man in the Porsche, and Ashburn was more than a match for the British GT field in the surprise package of the year. A rightful champion.
4. Benji and Freddie Hetherington – The brothers were a force to be reckoned with when the joined the series for the second half of the season. Wins in both Snetterton races and at Brands Hatch could have added to at Silverstone if not for frustration and the resulting penalties.
5. Jamie Stanley and Christian Dick – G4 champions, after a dominant season. Beat (almost) all comers over the course of the season, title made easy by the fact all comers didn't come often enough.