Steve Tandy and Joe Osborne became the first repeat winners in eight races of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, coming out the better of a battle between Trackspeed Porsches with teammates Jon Minshaw and Tim Harvey finishing second after a momentary technical problem late in the race.
“It was fuel pressure,” explained Minshaw. “I didn’t really know what it was because the alarm came on and I’ve had the alarm come on before and you normally reset the alarm and it all goes back to normal so I did that but it didn’t go back to normal and I looked at the dials and flicked the switches but it took a while for the fuel to get back into the system and by that time Steve had got past me.”
Tandy described the closing laps from his perspective; “I was expecting to attacked from the back more but after Jon pulled out about five seconds on me all of a sudden I was raining him in. I realised he must have had a problem and I got him past him with no problem at all, then he started to come back at me and it was question of keeping him behind me.”
The two Porsches raced to the checkered flag at the end of a weekend where the rear engine machines had dominated much of the Snetterton weekend.
Despite their apparent dominance all the Porsches were struggling with debilitating rear tyre wear, and though they finished 1-2 the Porsche squads had problems during the hour long race. After starting from the front two rows Porsches held the top positions in the early laps. Harvey led from pole with Osborne chasing in second and Michael Caine in third in the better of the Motorbase cars, though he was soon to drop down the order with the first of a trio of spins as Caine clashed first with Richard Westbrook, then Matt Griffin and Alex Buncombe, Caine eventually handing over to co-driver Daniele Perfetti in a disappointing third place.
Caine’s first spin allowed Westbrook to take the rear most position in a Trackspeed 1-2-3, though that would last only until lap seven when the car ground to a steaming halt on the infield Westbrook out of the race before championship leader David Ashburn had even got a chance to take over the car.
A DNF for Ashburn – a first of the season for the 2010 champion – should have presented MTECH drivers Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron with an opportunity to move into the points lead. However, Cameron had to fight car with a serious brake problem, preventing him from making the most of the chance, and limiting them to just a finish in in the bottom half of the top ten.
Another to have brake problems was Matt Bell. United Autosports’ McLaren MP4-12C, though comfortable winner in the day’s opening race, had ended that event with fading brakes which appeared to fail altogether in the opening laps, Bell overshooting the Esses at well over 100mph before returning to the pits and promptly putting an end to the UA’s first weekend in the championship with the McLaren.
The early problems for Caine and Westbrook and a drive through penalty for third row starter Alex Buncombe in the RJN Motorsport Nissan GT-R had lifted Aaron Scott and the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458 into third position behind the remaining Trackspeed cars.
Staying out for as long as he could Scott led for two laps during the pitstop window before John Dhillon took over the car, remaining in third place.
Two or three seconds a lap slower than Minshaw and Tandy – now in control of the lead Porsches – Dhillon clung impressively onto third position until the final handful of laps when Jann Mardenborough, Alasdair McCaig and Perfetti all found a way past in the space of two laps.
For Mardenborough it was the final stage in a resurgent drive, not just after the drive through penalty served by co-driver Buncombe, but after the mistake that knocked the Nissan duo out of the first race.
After the penalty – incurred after Buncombe drove through the pits to complete two out laps before taking his place on the grid – he pulled the car back up eighth before becoming the first man to pit for the mandatory driver change, installing Mardenborough in the car in a strategic move that gained the pair two extra places when the stops were completed.
Mardenborugh picked his was safely past Perfetti and McCaig, the latter in a solid outing for Ecurie Ecosse during a difficult meeting for the Barwell run team that included an overnight run to Holland to pick up the necessary pieces to repair the BMW Z4 after Ollie Millory‘s practice off.
In third after passing Dhillon, Mardenborough ate up most the 12 seconds of track that split he and the Porsches but was left lament the need for just a few more laps in the hour he needed if he was to improve his position and add to the Brands Hatch win.
“The hand over from Alex went well even though we have a four second penalty this weekend,” Mardenborough told The Checkered Flag. “We had a drive through for something that happened before the start, so we had to overcome all of that. Alex did a great job in clawing his way back up the field. I got out there in some clear air and pushed on, caught some cars and passed them and Bob’s thoughts were ringing in my ears that we need points so I wasn’t going to do anything too silly and aggressive and it seemed to pay off. Give it another lap and I think we would have passed both of the Porsches, well caught both of them, it’s another thing to pass them.”
At the checkered the top three cars were split by less than two seconds, the Nissan following Minshaw and Tandy.
Taking over the car from Harvey Minshaw had maintained the lead but suffered fuel pressure issues forcing him to slow, allowing Rockingham winner Tandy though into a lead before Minshaw’s issue was resolved allowing his to shadow Tandy to the line.
Behind in the top ten late race retirements by Steve Parish in the Motorbase Porsche and Marco Attard in the Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini helped bring about an unusual look to the eventual top ten.
Jordan Witt and Anthony Reid combined for a seventh place in the Invitation class Chevron GR8 GT3, one place ahead of Speedworks’ Ron and Piers Johnson who scored their first points of the season. FF Corse‘s GTC Ferrari 458 and MTECH, despite braking problems, completed the top, Griffin and Cameron hauling themselves to just a half point behind Ashburn with Mardenborough and Buncombe just two points behind the Porsche driver.
In GT4 Team WFR‘s Warren Hughes and Jody Fannin scored a largely untroubled win from the Jota Mazda and the Complete Racing Aston Martin of Phil Keen and Steve Chaplin, the result rounding out a superb debut weekend in the British GT Championship for the former VW Racing Cup star.
Chaplin put his team’s debut success down to his teammate; “It certainly wasn’t expected,” he said. “We came here and were plagued with problems in testing and then not to have qualifying where we hoping to show a little bit of pace but we had to start from the back for both races. I’ve got to give credit to Phil in picking up the pieces in the first race and doing the business in the second race I just had to keep hold of a bit of what he left me.”