Viper Strikes at Rockingham ....

as Gornall and Barnes take First Win

James Gornall and Jon Barnes became the latest winners in the 2008 Avon Tyres British GT Championship as the Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper Competition Coupe took the chequered flag ahead of the Team Modena Lamborghini of Adam Jones and Piers Johnson.  James Sutton and Michael Meadows were a distant third in the CR Scuderia Ferrari.  Stewart Linn and Matt Nicol-Jones won the GT4 class, just pipping the Ginetta of Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott at the finish line by just 0.697 seconds.

In the pouring rain the 24 car grid set off behind the safety car.  The Trackspeed Porsche of David Ashburn joined at the back of the train after pitting on the way to the grid when the bonnet of his car flew up and covered the windscreen.  The Trackspeed crew secured the wayward bodywork but Ashburn had lost 15 places.

The race was started under the pace car due to the conditions, the pack circling the 1.94 mile Rockingham circuit for two laps before being unleashed at the start of lap 3.  Pole position holder Leo Machitski pulled away as Oliver Morley came under pressure  almost immediately from James Gornall in the third placed Viper.  Gornall swept past into second place on the exit of Deene, with Morley having to fend off the challenge of Nick Foster.

At the end of the opening lap it was Machitski from Gornall, Morley, Foster and Jeremy Metcalfe.  Further back down the field, championship leader Paddy Shovlin made up five places on the opening lap from his lowly 19th slot on the grid.

Machitski was continuing to hold onto the lead when the Tech 9 Gallardo suddenly slowed coming out of the final corner at the end of the second flying lap, allowing Gornall to take the lead, with the other leading cars having to swerve to miss the slower Lamborghini as it emerged from the spray.  Machitski crawled back to the pits where a waterlogged gearbox control unit was diagnosed as the problem.  A disappointing end to a promising start for the 2006 British GT3 champion.

James Gornall now had command of the race and started to pull away from Morley in the second Tech 9 Gallardo.  On lap 6 Morley spun at Brook while under pressure from Nick Foster in the third placed Team RPM Viper, dropping him down the order and putting Bryant into second and Metcalfe into third.

In GT4 Matt Nicol-Jones had made a solid start but a spin after hitting a big puddle of water dropped the GT4 Championship leader back to 5th in class and Hunter Abbott into the GT4 lead ahead of Joe Osborne.

Meanwhile back at the front Gornall continued to pull away from Bryant, but by only the slimmest of margins in the tricky conditions.  Behind the leading pair Craig Wilkins had pulled the ABG Motorsport Viper up to 6th from 13th on the grid and on lap 11 was challenging Piers Johnson in the Team Modena Lamborghini for 5th into Deene.  Wilkins took the inside line as the pair dropped down off the oval and gained the place as they powered down to Yentwood and set off to challenge Michael Meadows for 4th.

On lap 14 Meadows and Johnson became the first drivers to pit but their timing wasn't good as the safety car came out on the next lap after Ben de Zille Butlers Lamborghini became lodged in the Tarzan hairpin gravel trap.  Gornall was just coming into Brook when the safety car was called and his Brookspeed team were straight on the radio telling him to pit, which he duly did, along with several other cars. Most of the leaders stayed out for another lap while the rest rejoined behind the pace car.

On lap 17 the race went green and when the cars came round after their first flying lap Jon Barnes, now at the wheel of the Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper, had a 17.5 second lead of Adam Jones in the Team Modena Lamborghini Gallardo, who in turn had a 4-second cushion to James Sutton in the CR Scuderia Ferrari.

Jones now started to reel in Barnes but only by 0.5 seconds per lap, which wasn't going to be enough in the time remaining.  In GT4 Stewart Linn had emerged from the pitstops in the lead of the cLAss, just ahead of Rob Austin.  Austin started to close the small gap to Linn and on lap 22 swept into the lead, only to have the IMS Motorsport Ginetta filling his rear view mirrors as they began the next lap.  This battle raged for the next six laps when Linn went back into the lead at Yentwood only for Austin to regain the lead at the next corner at Chapman.  Linn wasn't going to give up easily and went around the outside of the lead Ginetta at Tarzan, getting the better line out of the Hairpin to get alongside his rival as they headed down the School Straight into Brook.  Linn Had the inside line and retook the lead for the final time.

At the front Adam Jones had halved the lead held by Jon Barnes but the cushion was too great as the chequered flag approached.  Behind the leading pair Oliver Bryant was on the move in the #2 Team RPM Viper, overtaking Adrian Willmot in the 22GTRacing Aston Martin on lap 32 for 5th and then moved into 4th one lap from home overtaking Luke Hines in the #16 CR Scuderia Ferrari after a great lap long battle.

At the flag Jon Barnes recorded the first British GT victory for himself, his teammate and his Team Trimite Brookspeed team.  This is the third time a Viper has won at Rockingham in the three races held at the circuit since GT3 became the main class. Adam Jones took the first podium of the season for Team Modena, crossing the line just 4.115 seconds behind the Viper, with James Sutton taking the final podium position 26 seconds further up the road.

Jon Barnes and James Gornall now hold a three point lead in the championship over Paddy Shovlin and Michael Cullen, the Irish duo fighting back from 19th on the grid to finish 8th and claim a vital championship point.

Matt Nicol-Jones and Stewart Linn extend their championship lead in the GT4 class to 12 points over Fulvio Mussi, who finished a lonely third with Joe Osborne in the Team RPM Ginetta.

Round 6 of the 2008 Avon Tyres British GT Championship is due to start at 13:25 on Bank Holiday Monday at Rockingham. 

Round 5 - Provisional Result

1 - 40 - GT3 - James GORNALL / Jon BARNES - Viper Competition Coupe - 01:01:03.239 - 36 laps

2 - 21 - GT3 - Piers JOHNSON / Adam JONES -  Lamborghini Gallardo - +4.115s

3 - 14 - GT3 - Michael MEADOWS / James SUTTON - Ferrari 430 - +30.496s

4 - 2 - GT3 - Nick FOSTER / Oliver BRYANT - Viper Competition Coupe - +47.938s

5 - 16 - GT3 - Jeremy METCALFE / Luke HINES - Ferrari 430 - +51.000s

6 - 42 - GT3 - Adrian WILLMOT / Michael BENTWOOD - Aston Martin DBRS9 - +52.223s

7 - 20 - GT3 - Craig WILKINS / Aaron SCOTT - Viper Competition Coupe - +56.043s

8 - 15 - GT3 - Paddy SHOVLIN / Michael CULLEN - Ferrari 430 - +59.152s

9 - 5 - GT3 - David ASHBURN / Tim HARVEY - Porsche 997 - +01:14.897

10 - 8 - GT3 - Oliver MORLEY/ Tom FERRIER - Lamborghini Gallardo - +01:35.040

11 - 4 - GT3 - Peter BAMFORD / Matt GRIFFIN - Ferrari 430 - +01:36.026

12 - 23 - GT3 - Hector LESTER / Allan SIMONSEN - Ferrari 430 - +01:37.004

13 - 88 - GT4 - Matt NICOLL-JONES / Stewart LINN - Ginetta G50 - +1 lap

14 - 55 - GT4 - Hunter ABBOTT / Rob AUSTIN -  Ginetta G50 - +1 lap

15 - 3 - GT3 - Richard MARSH / Anthony REID - Ferrari 430 - +1 lap

16 - 51 - GT4 - Joe OSBORNE / Fulvio MUSSI - Ginetta G50 - +2 laps

17 - 50 - GT4 - Richard EVANS / Phil BAILEY - Team RPM - +2 laps

18 - 99 - GT4 - Andrew HOWARD / Jamie SMYTH - Aston Martin N24 - +2 laps

19 - 52 - GT4 - Colin WILMOTT / Nigel REDWOOD - Ginetta G50 - +2 laps

Not Classified

DNC - 12 - GT3 - Phil BURTON / Adam WILCOX - Ferrari 430 - +12 laps

DNC - 11 - GT3 - Ben de ZILLE BUTLER / Guy HARRINGTON - Lamborghini Gallardo - +23 laps

DNC - 1 - GT3 - Steve CLARK / Paul O'NEILL - Viper Competition Coupe - +24 laps

DNC - 22 - GT3 - David JONES / Godfrey JONES - Ascari KZ1R - +28 laps

DNC - 9 - GT3 - Leo MACHITSKI / Jason TEMPLEMAN - Lamborghini Gallardo - +31 laps

Fastest Lap

21 - GT3 - Adam JONES -  Lamborghini Gallardo - 01:35.779 - 72.91 mph - 117.34kph

55 - GT4 - Rob AUSTIN - Ginetta G50  - 01:39.942 - 69.87mph - 112.46kph

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