Christians take first win of ‘08 Season

Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen took the first win of the year for the Christians in Motorsport team in an incident packed race at Thruxton in Round of the 2008 Avon Tyres British GT Championship.

  Simonsen took the chequered flag over six seconds ahead of Aaron Scott in the ABG Motorsport Viper and a further 2.8 seconds in front of championship leader Jon Barnes in the Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper.  Rob Austin and Hunter Abbott took the win in the GT4 class but a 10-second penalty for overtaking under yellows handed the win to Championship leaders Stewart Linn and Matt Nicol-Jones.

Pole position was held by Jeremy Metcalfe in the #16 CR Scuderia Ferrari and the 20-year-old led the 21 car grid into the first corner at Allards with Barrie Whight in the #18 Cadena Motorsport Aston Martin tucked up behind.  Third placed Steve Clark spun on the opening lap, dropping the Team RPM Viper down the order to 16th at the end of the opening lap.  Paddy Shovlin (#15 CR Scuderia Ferrari 430) and James Gornall (#40 Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper) both made up places to end lap one in 3rd and 4th respectively.  Other drivers who had good opening laps were Tom Alexander (#42 22GTRacing Aston Martin) and Piers Johnson (#21 Team Modena Lamborghini Gallardo) who both moved up four places.

At the end of the lap it was Metcalfe from Whight ahead of Shovlin and Gornall and this is how it remained until  lap 4 when Gornall passed the Irishman to take 3rd.  The Team Modena Lamborghini Gallardo of Guy Harrington was the first retirement of the race at this stage, reportedly stopped by post 12 out on the back of the circuit.  Paddy Shovlin lost two further places on the next lap when he got on the gas too early coming out of the chicane, spinning the Ferrari through 180 degrees.  He recovered but not before he had been passed by Michael Meadows (#14 CR Scuderia Ferrari) and Craig Wilkins (#20 ABG Motorsport Viper).

Lap 5 also saw the #1 Team RPM Viper come into the pits with a puncture, putting Clark further down the order before he was able to rejoin in 21st place.

In GT4 Nigel Moore was leading in the Team RPM Ginetta but soon had Matt Nicol-Jones in the IMS Motorsport Ginetta filling his rear view mirrors.  Moore held on for a couple of laps but then on lap 8 he spun off near post 9 out on the back of the circuit, promoting Nicol-Jones into the lead of the race.  The cars circulated for one more lap before the Safety Car was deployed to recover the stricken Ginetta.  At the same time the #8 Tech 9 Lamborghini Gallardo of Leo Machitski spun at the Chicane while trying to overtake Phil Burton in the #12 VRS Motor Finance Ferrari and the Lamborghini came to rest with the rear right wheel collapsed under the car.

The field circulated behind the safety car as the marshals struggled to recover the Lamborghini and as they went round for the fourth time the pit window opened and ever car bar the #50 Team RPM Ginetta of Steve Tandy heading into the pitlane.  In the tight confines of the Thruxton pitlane chaos ensued as cars were blocked in by others frantically trying to change drivers.  There were plenty of winners and losers in the melee and one winner was Alan Simonsen in the CiM Ferrari.  The Dane managed to get the car from Hector Lester, who had pitted in 7th place, and avoid the chaos to come out in the lead of the race behind the still circulating Safety Car and ahead of the #21 Team Modena Lamborghini with Adam Jones now at the wheel and the #40 Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper with Jon Barnes at the wheel.

The race went green on lap 19 and Barnes took advantage of the situation to move ahead of Adam Jones, with Jones demoted a further position when Aaron Scott shot past both the Lamborghini and the Aston Martin of Michael Bentwood to move into 3rd.  Nigel Redwood’s race ended abruptly when he went straight on at the Chicane in the #2 Team RPM Viper.

In GT4 Stewart Linn rejoined the race in the lead, ahead of Rob Austin and Bradley Ellis, who had taken over the driving duties of the #52 Team RPM Ginetta from Fulvio Mussi.  Austin caught and passed the #88 IMS Motorsport Ginetta on lap 22 and soon opened up a big lead as Linn came under pressure from Ellis.  However Austin was handed a drive through penalty for speeding in the pitlane, but he timed his run down the pitlane to emerge still ahead of the battling Linn and Ellis.

Meanwhile back at the front of the field Simonsen was having a lonely race as the two Vipers of Scott and Barnes battled for second place.  A similar battle raged for 4th between Adam Jones and Michael Bentwood and it was only disrupted when Oliver Bryant at the wheel of the #1 Team Viper tried to unlap himself.  On lap 28 Scott finally managed to get past the Team Trimite Viper to move into second place and then he pulled away to give himself a bit of breathing space.

Further back five Ferrari 430s were nose to tail fighting a great battle with Michael Cullen (#15 CR Scuderia) at the head of the train in 6th.   Cullen had Luke Hines (#16 CR Scuderia) right on his back bumper, with James Sutton in the #14 CR Scuderia just behind and just ahead of Adam Wilcox (#12 VRS Motor Finance) and Matt Griffin (#3 Chad Peninsula Racing).  The first slip came from Sutton, who dropped back behind Wilcox, allowing Griffin to pass Wilcox.  Hines also made a move on his CRS teammate at Allard to demote Cullen back to 7th on lap 28.  Matt Griffin was now right behind Michael Cullen and on lap 32 went ahead of his fellow Irishman and then repeated the feat on Sutton a lap later.

As the chequered flag approached it was Simonsen who claimed victory for the first time in 2008 for the Christians in Motorsport team, six seconds ahead of Aaron Scott and Jon Barnes.  Adam Jones held onto 4th despite a determined change from Michael Bentwood, who will start Round 10 from pole position on Sunday.

In GT4 Rob Austin took the win ahead of the battling duo of Stewart Linn and Bradley Ellis.  The pair had swapped places on almost every lap as the flag approached, with Linn holding the advantage as the two Ginettas headed to the Chicane for the last time.  Ellis left his braking very late, hopped over the kerbs and hit the IMS Ginetta in the side.  The two cars kept their momentum and both cars finished the race in the same order.  However Rob Austin was judged to have overtaken under waved yellows earlier in the race and he was handed a 10-second penalty by the Clerk of the Course, dropping the team back to 3rd in class and promoting the IMS Motorsport and Team RPM Ginettas to 1st and 2nd respectively.

Round 10 of the 2008 Avon Tyres British GT Championship is due to start at 13:45 on Sunday.

CLICK HERE to listen to the post race press conference

CLICK HERE for championship positions after Round 9

2008 Avon Tyres British GT Championship - Round 9 Result (Provisional)

1 - 23 - GT3 - LESTER-SIMONSEN - Christians in Motorsport - 1:00:02.618 - 41laps

2 - 20 - GT3 - WILKINS-SCOTT - ABG Motorsport - +6.688s

3 - 40 - GT3 - GORNALL-BARNES - Trimite Brookspeed - +9.509s

4 - 21 - GT3 - JOHNSON-JONES -  Team Modena - +21.159s

5 - 42 - GT3 - ALEXANDER-BENTWOOD - 22GTRacing - +24.108s

6 - 3 - GT3 - BAMFORD-GRIFFIN - Chad Peninsula Racing - +30.642s

7 - 16 - GT3 - METCALFE-HINES - CR Scuderia - +37.344s

8 - 15 - GT3 - SHOVLIN-CULLEN - CR Scuderia - +37.673s

9 - 14 - GT3 - MEADOWS-SUTTON - CR Scuderia - +37.994s

10 - 12 - GT3 - BURTON-WILCOX - VRS Motor Finance - +38.733s

11 - 1 - GT3 - BRYANT-CLARK - Team RPM - +1 lap

12 - 88 - GT4 - NICOLL JONES-LINN - IMS Motorsport - +1 lap

13 - 52 - GT4 - MUSSI-ELLIS - RPM - +1 lap

14 - 55 - GT4 - ABBOTT-AUSTIN - Rob Austin Racing - +1 lap

15 - 71 - GT4 - STINTON-CLARK - Stark Racing - +3 laps

16 - 50 - GT4 - TANDY-BAILEY - RPM - +3 laps

Not Classified

DNC - 18 - GT3 - WHIGHT-KERSHAW -  - Cadena Motorsport - +18 laps

DNC - 2 - GT3 - FOSTER-REDWOOD -  - Team RPM - 0:30:09.581 - +23 laps

DNC - 8 - GT3 - MACHITSKI-FERRIER -  - Tech 9 - +32 laps

DNC - 11 - GT3 - HARRINGTON-de ZILLE BUTLER -  +39 laps

DNC - 51 - GT4 - MOORE-OSBORNE -  +34 laps

Fastest Lap

20 - GT3 - Aaron SCOTT - ABG Motorsport -  01:17.206 - 109.85mph - 176.79kph

51 - GT4 - Nigel MOORE - RPM - 01:22.223 - 103.15mph - 166.00kph