Ginetta G20: Smith Delighted With 1st

EVER CAR RACING VICTORY Texaco Havoline Ginetta G20 Championship front-runner Andrew Smith saw his dreams come true at Mallory Park on Sunday afternoon, 7th September, by taking his first ever race victory in cars after a titanic battle with series leader Spencer McCarthy.While McCarthy extended his championship points advantage over chief rival Kieran Vernon, the latter crashing out on lap eight while dicing for the lead with McCarthy but recovering to finish in fourth place, for Smith the 17th round of the season proved to be thoroughly unforgettable.Commenting on his first ever race victory in cars, Smith said: “We’ve been chipping away all year. We were fastest in free practice at Silverstone and on the front row but I tend to struggle when the track has a lot of rubber down from GT cars and F3 cars and I have struggled a bit in those circumstances.“Of course, F3 and GT weren’t at Mallory this weekend so the conditions were more the sort of thing I’m used to and it all worked out. It’s brilliant fun racing at Mallory but you can’t break away in a G20, the slipstream is phenomenal and every time I got a gap, Spencer would just pull it back again.“It was a superb race, Spencer has been doing this for a long time and you know you can have a good, clean race with him. The car was perfect, it’s fantastic to win and I’m delighted to have beaten a driver like Spencer in a straight fight.”Although McCarthy increased his points tally by a further eight points with his 15th podium visit of the season, Vernon did limit the damage by rejoining the track and mounting an excellent fight-back late on in the race to finish just two places behind his title rival. Smith actually ended a three-race winning streak for McCarthy while Peter Dignan claimed his second rostrum of the season with a fine drive to third place, albeit some 16 seconds adrift of the top two.In qualifying, it was Vernon who took the initiative with pole position, 0.131 seconds faster than McCarthy with Smith four 10ths of a second further adrift in third place and Paul Morgan fourth fastest.At the start of round 17, Vernon got away well from pole position but McCarthy mounted an immediate challenge on the exit of Gerard’s Bend. Holding off the second placed man into the John Cooper Esses, Vernon held the lead into lap two but at the Esses on the second tour he came under increasing pressure from the championship leader.Into Gerard’s on lap three, McCarthy took the lead after a terrific slipstreaming effort while behind, Smith held third from Morgan with Phil Sykes in fifth place. As the top two battled, Vernon and McCarthy running side-by-side through Gerard’s on lap five, Smith began to close in.Vernon took the lead again on lap six but a potentially decisive moment in the outcome of the 2008 title came on the following tour at the first turn when Vernon crashed out into the gravel as he and McCarthy rounded the long right-hander side-by-side once again.Although bitterly disappointing for his title charge, and the on-track battle itself, luckily Vernon was able to rejoin the race down in 12th position. Back at the front, McCarthy led from Sykes now, who managed to get ahead of Smith, with Morgan fourth and Dignan fifth.On lap 11 at the Esses, Smith went into second place and at Gerard’s three laps later he took a short-lived lead before McCarthy hit back into the Esses. Then, on lap 17, the Esses proved to be the place of choice for Smith to go back to the head of the field.Smith managed to hold off the persistent attentions of McCarthy to the finish on lap 23, taking his maiden Ginetta G20 triumph and first ever car racing win by just 0.076 seconds with Dignan a richly deserved third, having started down in 10th place.Two laps from the finish, Vernon was running in seventh place but he ended the race on a high by carving his way through into fourth at the chequered flag. Morgan, meanwhile, was forced to retire with car troubles on lap 18.Alex Dziurzynski finished fifth, Tom Jones was sixth, Julian Barratt came home in seventh position with Matthew Flowers rounding out the top eight.Provisional Texaco Havoline Ginetta G20 Championship Positions (after Rd 17):1st Spencer McCarthy, 506pts; 2nd Kieran Vernon, 453pts; 3rd Julian Barratt, 425pts; 4th Andrew Smith, 302pts; 5th Gary Simms, 283pts; 6th Russel McCarthy, 249pts