Pepe Massot produced an immaculate drive to secure victory in Round Two of the 2013 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup.
In an action-packed race in changing conditions, Massot defied his experience to fend off a resurgent Matt Nicoll-Jones to take his maiden victory in the series, in only his and Hillspeed’s second race in the category.
With the results from the day’s earlier race, it was reigning champion Carl Breeze who lined up on pole for the race, which took place on a drying track, with a good start for the pole-sitter seeing him lead comfortably into Paddock Hill for the first time.
Fellow front-row starter Nicoll-Jones meanwhile was left defending his position on the outside line into the corner, with a bit of contact to his side sending him spinning into the gravel trap, the Academy Motorsport driver being fortunate to dig his way out and back into the action.
As he recovered at the back of the field, the positions were all change at the front, with Massot sliding past Rob Boston for third at Druids, before a change for the lead saw Jamie Orton dive past team-mate Breeze.
Orton’s move came just before the emergence of the safety car, after the G50 of Simon Green found itself beached at Graham Hill Bend.
Two laps later the race restarted, with Mark Davies quickly passing Boston for fourth to join a four-way battle for the race lead. Massot proved to be the man to watch in the quartet, passing Breeze at Paddock Hill on lap twelve for second, before repeating the move two laps later to take the lead.
Breeze meanwhile was slipping away, losing ground to Davies and then a recovering Nicoll-Jones, who had benefitted from the safety car to latch onto the back of the field and start working his way through.
Noticeably quicker coming out of Clearways, Nicoll-Jones used this to his advantage, passing Davies into Paddock on lap nineteen for third, before repeating the trick a lap later on Orton for second.
As the race headed towards its conclusion, the track began to dry out completely, playing into the hands of Tom Ingram. While his rivals were all on wet tyres, Ingram opted for slicks, and although he was initially sitting dead last, lapping some seven seconds slower than his rivals, the move began to pay off and he started scything his way through the field, quickly getting into the top six,
Ahead, the final couple of laps saw Massot under immense pressure from Nicoll-Jones, but the Spaniard held him off superbly to take the victory, with Nicoll-Jones finishing up 0.424s adrift for his second podium of the weekend so far.
Orton joined him on the podium once again in third, with Ingram’s charge ending with him in fourth, though had the race been a few laps longer he’d have been a favourite for the race win, his fastest lap being over four seconds quicker than the race winner’s.
Total Control Racing team-mates Davies and Breeze completed the top six ahead of Boston, while Andrew Watson emerged from a race-long battle with James Birch in eighth.
In the G50 class, Reece Somerfield continued his superb weekend with his second class win in two races, with Sean Huyton bouncing back from a tough opening race to secure his first podium in second ahead of Dan Norris-Jones.
“It’s really good and I feel extremely happy,” race-winner Massot told TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk. “We knew that if the conditions were tricky that we would be quick, as we’ve got a good feel with the car. It was a superb race for us.”
“I had a bit of a knock on the side of me at the start from Orton, it was completely innocent and one of those things,” added Nicoll-Jones. “I went into the gravel trap but kept it pinned and got back out. The safety car definitely helped, but I’m just gutted we had the problem at the start, as otherwise we would have just walked that race as we were a lot faster than everyone else.”
The full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2013/131303g50.pdf