Secure 2008 Title
Michael Cullen and Paddy Shovlin celebrated their third win of the year after a rear wheel problem denied James Gornall and Jon Barnes a dream way to win the 2008 Avon Tyres British GT Championship. The Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper finished 7th, which was good enough to put the title beyond doubt. Newly crowned GT4 Champions Matt Nicol-Jones and Stewart Linn finished the weekend with their sixth win from twelve races.
Allan Simonsen in the #23 Christians in Motorsport Ferrari led the grid towards Paddock Hill for the first time with third placed Jon Barnes getting a better start than second placed Oliver Bryant in the #1 Team RPM Viper to dive down the inside at Paddock Hill to take the battle to Simonsen at Druids. Adam Wilcox in the #12 VRS Motor Finance Ferrari also got a great start from 6th to pass Michael Bentwood (#42 22GTRacing Aston Martin) and Aaron Scott (#20 ABG Viper) on the opening lap. Scott also passed Bentwood and followed Wilcox closely for two laps before regaining the lost place at Graham Hill Bend on lap 3.
In GT4 Joe Osborne got a great start to get on terms with Nigel Moore, passing his Team RPM teammate at Graham Hill with Moore then coming under pressure from the newly crowned GT4 champion Stewart Linn.
At the front Simonsen was edging away from Barnes who had the Vipers of Bryant and Scott following closely behind. Further back Michael Bentwood had managed to get past the Ferrari of Adam Wilcox at Druids and open up a gap to the Ferrari. Wilcox had six cars behind his Ferrari led by Guy Harrington in the #11 Team Modena Lamborghini, followed by Gavan Kershaw (#18 Cadena Aston Martin), Michael Cullen (#15 CRS Ferrari), James Sutton (#14 CRS Ferrari), Nigel Redwood (#2 RPM Viper) and Luke Hines (#16 CRS Ferrari).
Meanwhile back at the front Jon Barnes was still soaking up the pressure from Oliver Bryant but then a Black and Orange flag was shown to the #1 Viper due to undertray working loose. A frustrated Oliver Bryant had to make an unscheduled pitstop on lap 9 which cost him any chance of a podium finish.
On lap 10 Michael Cullen started to make his move up the order, pushing past Gavan Kershaw’s Aston Martin at Graham Hill Bend and then overtaking Guy Harrington’s Lamborghini at the next corner to get on terms with Wilcox. The VRS Motor Finance Ferrari held the CRS Ferrari at bay for three more laps but the inevitable happened at Graham Hill Bend and Cullen moved swiftly away in pursuit of Michael Bentwood’s Aston Martin.
On lap 15 the pit window opened and unexpectedly the first car in was the CiM Ferrari of Allan Simonsen from the lead of the race. However it soon became apparent that this wasn’t a scheduled stop as the engine covers came off the Ferrari and there was much scratching of heads from the team members. Simonsen’s body language said it all as the team knew their race was run and as the only title contenders left the retirement had handed Jon Barnes and James Gornall the 2008 British GT title.
Out on track Barnes was now in the lead ahead of Aaron Scott and Michael Bentwood and on lap 18 Barnes came into the pits to hand over to James Gornall. Confusion reigned as cars came into the pits to complete their mandatory stops. Ben de Zille Butler, now at the wheel of the #11 Team Modena Lamborghini spun at Druids on his outlap, parking the Lamborghini in the middle of track before he was able to turn the engine over and rejoin the race. Disaster also struck the ABG Motorsport Viper as Aaron Scott brought the car in with smoke pouring from the car, a front left tyre had punctured and the mechanics were forced to pick bits of shredded tyre from the bodywork of the Viper as Scott handed over to Craig Wilkins.
Cadena Motorsports day took a turn for the worse when Gavan Kershaw went straight on at Sheene Curve, the Aston Martin ending up beached in the gravel forcing the Safety Car out onto the track. James Gornall led the remaining cars behind the safety car with Andy Jenkinson (#42 22GTRacing Aston Martin) followed by Paddy Shovlin (#15 CRS Ferrari), Michael Meadows (#14 CRS Ferrari) and Nick Foster (#2 RPM Viper) rounding out the top five cars. Matt Nicol-Jones led the GT4 class ahead of Richard Evans in the #52 RPM Ginetta.
The race restarted on lap 28 with Gornall pulling away from Jenkinson who immediately came under fire from Shovlin, the Irish driver diving down the inside at Graham Hill Bend to take second place. As the leader crossed the line for the 29th time there seemed to be a problem with the Viper. Gornall ran wide at Paddock Hill but managed to stay on the track but the Viper had visibly slowed allowing Shovlin, Meadows and Foster to pass him. Gornall brought the car into the pits where the team removed the right rear tyre, replacing it with new Avon rubber before sending him back out in 7th place.
Nick Foster was closing on second placed Michael Meadows and on lap 31 the two cars were side by side into Paddock Hill. On the exit they clashed and the Ferrari spun off into the gravel facing back up the hill while the black Viper continued to chase down the leading Ferrari. Behind this battle Jeremy Metcalfe in the #16 CRS Ferrari dived down the inside of Andy Jankinson’s Aston Martin through Clearways to move into what was now third spot. Jenkinson now was under pressure from the recovering Craig Wilkinson and on lap 35 the Aston dropped back another place as the ABG Viper swept by.
In GT4 Nigel Moore (#51 Team RPM) was trying to get past Matt Nicol-Jones to add a another win to his weekend tally. Moore made a concerted move at Graham Hill Bend but Nicol-Jones defended well to keep the 16-year-old at bay but then the #51 Ginetta came into the pits, smoke coming from the engine bay. Moore climbed out of the car, his race over.
At the front Foster was trying desperately to get past the leading Ferrari but Paddy Shovlin kept his cool and his lead. Foster’s efforts were hampered by the waved yellow flags at Paddock Hill as the marshals worked to clear the stricken Ferrari of Michael Meadows. Shovlin crossed the line to take his third win of the season, his armaloft out of the window to salute his CR Scuderia team lining the wall. Nick Foster crossed the line in second well ahead of Jeremy Metcalf and Craig Wilkins. However a protest was made to the stewards regarding the move by Nick Foster on Michael Meadows and the Team RPM Viper was given a 60 second time penalty which dropped Foster and Redwood back to 6th overall and promoted Luke Hines and Jeremy Metcalfe to second and Aaron Scott and Craig Wilkins to third.
James Gornall nursed the Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper home to cross the line in a distant seventh place but it didn’t matter because he and Jon Barnes had secured the 2008 Avon Tyres British GT title with two races remaining.
The next race is at Silverstone on 17th August which will be the first of two 120-minute races to round off the 2008 season. Highlights from the races at Brands Hatch can be seen on Channel 4 and Motors TV across Europe, further more information visit the championship website at www.britishgt.com
CLICK HERE to listen to the post race press conferences and interview with the new 2008 Champions.
ROUND 12 : RESULT
1 - 15 - GT3 - CULLEN-SHOVLIN - CR Scuderia - 1:01:22.512 - 37 - 83.22 - 01:32.953
2 - 16 - GT3 - HINES-METCALFE - CR Scuderia - 1:01:41.803 - 37 - 19.291 - 82.79 - 01:33.212
3 - 20 - GT3 - SCOTT-WILKINS - ABG Motorsport - 1:01:47.666 - 37 - 25.154 - 82.66 - 01:31.559
4 - 42 - GT3 - BENTWOOD-JENKINSON - 22GTRacing - 1:01:51.506 - 37 - 28.994 - 82.57 - 01:31.890
5 - 21 - GT3 - GREEN-JOHNSON - Team Modena - 1:01:51.727 - 37 - 29.215 - 82.56 - 01:34.286
6 - 2 - GT3 - REDWOOD-FOSTER - Team RPM - 1:01:22.884 - 37 - 1:00.372 - 83.21 - 01:33.298
7 - 40 - GT3 - BARNES-GORNALL - Trimite Brookspeed - 1:02:42.832 - 37 - 01:20.3 - 81.44 - 01:31.846
8 - 1 - GT3 - BRYANT-CLARK - Team RPM - 1:01:24.599 - 36 - 1 - 80.92 - 01:31.632
9 - 88 - GT4 - LINN-NICOLL JONES - IMS Motorsport - 1:02:18.066 - 36 - 1 - 79.77 - 01:37.756
10 - 51 - GT4 - OSBORNE-EVANS - RPM - 1:02:21.897 - 36 - 1 - 79.69 - 01:37.519
11 - 55 - GT4 - AUSTIN-ABBOTT - Rob Austin Racing - 1:02:27.648 - 36 - 1 - 79.56 - 01:39.024
12 - 50 - GT4 - TANDY-BAILEY - RPM - 1:02:51.639 - 35 - 2 - 76.86 - 01:41.048
13 - 14 - GT3 - SUTTON-MEADOWS - CR Scuderia - 0:51:54.987 - 31 - 6 - 82.43 - 01:33.288
14 - 12 - GT3 - WILCOX-BURTON - VRS Motor Finance - 0:52:12.338 - 31 - 6 - 81.97 - 01:33.078
15 - 52 - GT4 - Nigel MOORE - RPM - 0:50:35.207 - 29 - 8 - 79.14 - 01:37.379
DNC - 18 - GT3 - KERSHAW-WHIGHT - Cadena Motorsport - 0:45:11.402 - 22 - 15 - 67.2 - 01:33.221
DNC - 11 - GT3 - HARRINGTON-de ZILLE BUTLER - Team Modena - 0:29:55.190 - 19 - 18 - 87.66 - 01:32.970
DNC - 23 - GT3 - SIMONSEN-LESTER - Christians in Motorsport - 0:23:12.127 - 15 - 22 - 89.24 - 01:31.560
DNC - 71 - GT4 - STINTON-CLARK - Stark Racing - 0:10:36.283 - 6 - 31 - 78.1 - 01:40.983
20 - GT3 - WILKINS-SCOTT - ABG Motorsport - 4 - - 1:31.559
52 - GT4 - Nigel MOORE - RPM - 5 - - 1:37.379