with Debut Win for O'Neill and Clark
After winning both Rockingham races in 2007, Team RPM were once again victorious in 2008 as Steve Clark took the chequered flag behind the safety car to win his and Paul O'Neill's first British GT race. The circumstances were a bit bizarre after the Viper inherited the lead after race leader Leo Machitski spun out at Gracelands while following the safety car in the Tech 9 Lamborghini. Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott won their second British GT4 class race well ahead of championship leaders Stewart Linn and Matt Nicol-Jones.
Jason Templeman had claimed pole for the Tech 9 Lamborghini and was looking to make up for the disappointment of yesterdays race when a gearbox control unit failure put Leo Machitski into retirement. With rain starting to fall the teams were scratching their heads on which tyres they should start the race on, with most electing to start on slicks.
The cars set off behind the pace car and at Tarzan one of the Lamborghini's spun off, which turned out to be Templeman and as the pace car pulled in it was Adam Jones in the Team Modena Lamborghini who led as Adam Wilcox in the VRS Motor Finance Ferrari who got the run down the inside at Turn 1 to move up from 6th to 2nd by turn 2. However with the rain still falling Wilcox ended up grass tracking at Gracelands as did Paddy Shovlin in the CR Scuderia Ferrari a lap later.
Jones was leading from Matt Griffin in the Chad Peninsula Racing Ferrari and Tom Ferrier in the second Tech 9 Gallardo. Allan Simonsen was on the move in the CiM Ferrari and by lap 5 was up to 3rd and challenging Griffin for 2nd, which he did two laps later at Deene. Simonsen then closed the gap to the leading Lamborghini but the Danish driver wasn't able to pass until lap 13 in an identical move he had used on Griffin at Deene.
With the rain falling steadily some of the mid race runners decided to Avon wets but the drivers at the front decided to wait to see which way the weather would go. In the end the slick shod runners made the right call and the drivers on wets had to come in again for slicks as the rain eased off and stopped.
Another driver on the move was Paul O'Neill and by lap 12 he was up to 5th and catching Ferrier as the pit window approached. Ferrier came in on lap 20 as the rest of the front runners elected to stay out as long as possible.
Simonsen continued to circulate at the front of the field but he was unable to shake off Adam Jones. Tim Harvey and Anthony Reid were having a great battle for 8th place, the former BTCC rivals nose to tail for lap after lap until Harvey was able to put the Porsche ahead of the Ferrari on lap 19.
Simonsen, Jones and Griffin all came in on the same lap, just before the pit window closed. Piers Johnson, now at the wheel of the Team Modena Gallardo got a great pitstop and came out right on the tail of Hector Lester in the CiM Ferrari, passing the Irishman on the run into Deene. However a slide off the track on to the grass at Gracelands undid all the hard work and dropped Johnson right down the order and out of contention for the lead.
Hector Lester was no win the lead, with Peter Bamford in second but the pair had Leo Machitski in the #9 Tech 9 Gallardo bearing down on them. Machitski overtook Bamford on lap 26 and then took the lead a lap later. While the 2006 British GT3 Champion consolidated his lead Lester and Bamford had a new threat looming in their mirrors as Steve Clark swept past them in the Viper on lap 29 and lap 30 respectively.
In GT4 Rob Austin had handed over the Ginetta to Hunter Abbott to lead the GT4 Class ahead of Colin Wilmott in the #52 Team RPM Ginetta after Nigel Redwood had been leading the class early on in the race. However Wilmott's race came to an abrupt end at the entrance to Brook.
As the rain returned the Ginetta spun out and stopped on the entrance of the corner bringing out the safety car with just 8 minutes of the race remaining.
With the rain coming down the cars circulated behind the pace car, with drivers weaving to try and keep some heat in their Avon slicks on the wet track. Leo Machitski was a bit too vigorous with his weaving and at Gracelands the Lamborghini slid off the track, promoting Steve Clark into the top spot. With the rain falling, the decision was taken to put the chequered flag out at the end of the lap and Steve Clark took the win as he crossed the line behind the safety car with Hector Lester and Michael Meadows taking the other podium positions.
Hunter Abbott took the second GT4 win of the year for the Rob Austin Racing team, well ahead of Matt Nicol-Jones and Joe Osborne.
Round 5 winners Jon Barnes and James Gornall failed to score any points in Round 6 because of bodywork damage to the Viper after a collision with another competitor however with their nearest rivals also failing to score they retain their championship lead by 3 points to Paddy Shovlin and Michael Cullen. Two podium finishes for Michael Meadows and James Sutton put them just seven points behind the championship leaders as the championship now heads to Snetterton for the next two races in two weeks time.
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Round 6 - Provisional Result
1 - 1 - GT3 - Paul O'NEILL / Steve CLARK - Viper Competition Coupe - 54:20.705 - 35 laps
2 - 23 - GT3 - Allan SIMONSEN / Hector LESTER - Ferrari 430 - +1.336s
3 - 14 - GT3 - James SUTTON / Michael MEADOWS - Ferrari 430 - +2.395s
4 - 2 - GT3 - Oliver BRYANT / Nick FOSTER - Viper Competition Coupe - +2.638s
5 - 4 - GT3 - Matt GRIFFIN / Nick BAMFORD - Ferrari 430 - +4.153s
6 - 16 - GT3 - Luke HINES / Jeremy METCALFE - Ferrari 430 - +6.971s
7 - 5 - GT3 - Tim HARVEY / David ASHBURN - Porsche 997 - +9.355s
8 - 3 - GT3 - Anthony REID/ Richard MARSH - Ferrari 430 - +10.593s
9 - 21 - GT3 - Adam JONES / Piers JOHNSON - Lamborghini Gallardo - +29.844s
10 - 55 - GT4 - Rob AUSTIN / Hunter ABBOTT - Ginetta G50 - +1 lap
11 - 88 - GT4 - Stewart LINN / Matt NICOLL-JONES - Ginetta G50 - +1 lap
12 - 42 - GT3 - Michael BENTWOOD / Adrian WILLMOT - Aston Martin DBRS9 - +1 lap
13 - 40 - GT3 - Jon BARNES / James GORNALL - Viper Competition Coupe - +1 lap
14 - 51 - GT4 - Fulvio MUSSI / Joe OSBORNE - Ginetta G50 - +1 lap
15 - 50 - GT4 - Phil BAILEY / Richard EVANS - Ginetta G50 - +1 lap
16 - 15 - GT3 - Michael CULLEN / Paddy SHOVLIN - Ferrari 430 - +2 laps
17 - 11 - GT3 - Guy HARRINGTON / Ben de ZILLE BUTLER - Lamborghini Gallardo - +2 laps
18 - 20 - GT3 - Craig WILKINS / Aaron SCOTT - Viper Competition Coupe - +4 laps
19 - 52 - GT4 - Colin WILLMOT / Nigel REDWOOD - Ginetta G50 - +5 laps
20 - 71 - GT4 - Ian STINTON / Neil CLARK - Ginetta G50 - +6 laps
21 - 8 - GT3 - Oliver MORLEY / Tom FERRIER - Lamborghini Gallardo - +11 laps
DQ - 9 - GT3 - Jason TEMPLEMAN / Leo MACHITSKI - Lamborghini Gallardo
DNF - 12 - GT3 - Phil BURTON / Adam WILCOX - Ferrari 430
1 - GT3 - Paul O NEILL - Viper Competition Coupe - 01:22.680 - 84.47mph
55 - GT4 - Rob AUSTIN - Ginetta G50 - 01:27.779 - 79.58mph