Derek Johnston Learns From Mistakes To Claim Race Three Victory

by Chris Gurton
Peter Smallwood finished second in group two (Photo Credit: Karl Bowdrey Photography)

Peter Smallwood finished second in group two (Photo Credit: Karl Bowdrey Photography)

With the dreadful weather still as bad as it had been for race two earlier in the day, JMH had decided to pull their Nissan GT-R out of race three after their earlier victory rather than risk an off and damage whilst spares for the new car were still short supply and with one eye on their upcoming British GT race at the Nurburgring. This promoted the group two Porsche 997 of Nick Whale to pole position thanks to Harry Whale's second fastest lap (behind the Nissan's fastest) in race two.

The rain had eased by the time the two pace laps were complete and Nick Whale did well to hold on to the lead ahead of Martin Short's Mosler and Derek Johnston's Ferrari 458. But Johnston moved up to second place at Hollywood and as in race two, took the lead of the race at the end of the Dunlop Straight. Rather than spinning off as he had done earlier in the day, Johnston made the most of Short being held up by Whale and had increased his lead by nearly four seconds by the end of lap two.

By now thought Short had passed Whale and was set on closing the gap to the Ferrari. A drying line was beginning to appear on Donington's National Circuit and fastest laps were being traded between the two out front. As the race reached the final five minutes, it looked like Johnston had held on but the rain had returned and Short had sensed an opportunity for victory. The gap had closed dramatically, but Johnston's determination to make up for his off in race two managed to hold off the approaching Mosler to take victory by less than a second at the finish line.

Meanwhile, Kevin Riley was going well in his Mosler getting quicker as the track dried and gaining on Whale for third overall. Heading into the final lap, the gap between them was just half a second. Pushing hard, Riley spun but managed to get back on track to take the final podium spot in group one and fifth place overall.

Riley's off had left Nick Whale to take the chequered flag unchallenged for third place overall and group two victory, the second win of the weekend for the In2Racing Porsche team. Peter Smallwood was some way back in his Porsche but claimed second place ending an encouraging debut weekend for the Parr Motorsport driver. Davit Witt and his Chevron GR8 rounded out the podium to completed a hat-trick of third placed finishes in group two for the weekend after a steady drive.

Another hat-trick came for Lee Mowle in group three. Victory in his Ginetta G50 and fourth overall had meant it was three race wins from the first three races to get his season off to the best possible start. Behind, Colin Broster seemingly had sorted out his Porsche 996 issues that had plagued race two to take second place 15 seconds ahead of Chris Bentley's Porsche 996.

Despite the poor weather conditions, it was a great weekend of action, but the GT Cup competitors will be hoping for some dryer conditions when they head to Silverstone for round two during the weekend of the 12th and 13th of May.

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