End Season on a High Note
Luke Hines and Jeremy Metcalfe secured their second win of the 2008 Avon Tyres British GT Championship season at Donington Park in their CR Scuderia Ferrari 430 to become the 2008 Vice Champions. It was a 1-2 for CRs with Paddy Shovlin and Michael Cullen taking second place, Cullen crossing the line side by side with Allan Simonsen in the CiM Ferrari after a last lap battle. Matt Nicol-Jones and Stewart Linn finished their GT4 championship winning year with their 8th win and their 14th podium in fourteen races.
The 22-car grid lined up behind Hector Lester (#23 CiM Ferrari) and Nick Foster (#2 Team RPM Viper) and as the lights went out Foster leapt away and was leading at the cars braked for the first corner at Redgate. Luke Hines (#16 CRS Ferrari) had also got a good start from third on the grid and was side by side with Lester into Redgate, with the CiM Ferrari not giving ground. The two cars dropped down the Craner Curves battling for position by Hines has the advantage and moved into second place before the Old Hairpin.
The two other CRS Ferrari’s had made up ground on the opening lap with Michael Meadows (#14 CRS Ferrari) and Paddy Shovlin (#15 CRS Ferrari) fighting for fifth as they crossed the line for the first time, with Shovlin getting the better of Meadows to take the place on lap 2. Shovlin then set off after Guy Harrington’s Lamborghini (#11 Team Modena Lamborghini) who was right on the tail of Hector Lester’s Ferrari. The three cars were nose to tail as they entered Redgate for the third time with Paddy Shovlin gaining another place at the expense of Harrington.
Godfrey Jones in the Preci Spark Ascari was also on the move passing Meadows on lap 3, Harrington on lap 5 and Shovlin and Lester to end lap 6 in 3rd. Further down the order 2008 British GT Champion James Gornall was making up ground from his lowly 13th place grid position and by lap six he was up to 5th, moving ahead of Harrington’s Lamborghini and setting off to catch Paddy Shovlin’s Ferrari. Hector Lester also lost five places at the Chicane as he got caught by a gaggle of cars and the Ulsterman found himself in 8th place.
Luke Hines continued to put pressure on the leading Viper of Nick Foster, bringing the gap down to three tenths of a second after lap 10. He then saw his opportunity at Redgate on lap 13 diving down the inside of the Viper with the two cars side by side as Foster fought to keep the lead down the Craner Curves. However the nimble Ferrari had the best line for the Old Hairpin and Luke Hines took the lead. A lap later Godfrey Jones moved ahead of Foster at MacLeans, the Viper clearly having problems. Foster came into the pits at the end of the lap and retired.
Hines now had a four second advantage over Jones who in turn had a four second advantage over Shovlin in 3rd. Michael Meadows had managed to move back ahead of James Gornall in the Brookspeed Viper and Guy Harrington was now closing on the 2008 champions car, the Viper clearly not as quick as it had been in the early stages of the race. Harrington made his move on lap 18 when Gornall’s Viper stepped out on the exit of Redgate and Harrington took advantage to nip through into 5th.
Things then settled down for a few laps, the only change coming when Peter Bamford (#4 Chad Peninsula Racing Ferrari) moved ahead of Tom Alexander’s Aston Martin for 11th place.
In the GT4 class Stewart Linn (#88 IMS Ginetta) had taken control as he moved ahead of Hunter Abbott (#55 Rob Austin Racing Ginetta) and Phil Bailey (#50 RPM Ginetta).
Luke Hines had opened up a six second gap to Godfrey Jones while Michael Meadows was less than a second behind Paddy Shovlin for third. Tom Alexander’s race came to an abrupt end when flames erupted from the rear of his 22GTRacing Aston Martin as he braked for the final corner. Alexander was able to park the car next to a marshal post on the grass at the start of the pitlane and the marshals were quickly able to extinguish the fire as the driver scrambled clear. The Aston Martin remained parked for four laps until it was decided to scramble the safety car to recover the stricken car.
As the safety car circulated some of the teams decided to take their pitstops and the there was a steady stream of cars into the pits to change drivers and refuel the cars. There was an incident as the Stark Racing pit was engulfed in flames as Ian Stinton pulled away in the Ginetta. Stinton managed to pull the flaming G50 down to the end of the pitlane next to the fire marshals and the fires in both the car and in the pit were quickly extinguished. Back out on track there was some confusion when Luke Hines was waved past the safety car with two RPM Vipers putting the leader a lap ahead of the rest of the field. The race officials tried to rectify the situation but with cars coming in for pitstops the state of affairs became confusing for all.
On lap 46 the green flag was waved and with all pitstops completed the race was now on to the final chequered flag of the 2008 season. Jeremy Metcalfe was now in the lead at the wheel of the #16 CRS Ferrari, two seconds ahead of David Jones in the Ascari, with Michael Cullen twenty seconds further back in the #15 CRS Ferrari and James Sutton two seconds behind Cullen in the third CRS Ferrari. Allan Simonsen (#23 CiM Ferrari) was now the quickest driver on the track but has a huge deficit to make up, starting thirty-five seconds behind Sutton but lapping almost a second quicker than his rivals.
On lap 52 Sutton past Cullen to move into the final podium position but then an engine problem forced Sutton to retire, pulling the Ferrari onto the grass at Starkys and promoting Michael Cullen back into 3rd place, with Allan Simonsen closing the gap on every lap.
Metcalfe was able to start pulling away from the chasing Ascari and by lap 60 the gap had opened to six seconds. David Jones in turn was able to maintain a comfortable 24-second gap to Michael Cullen. Allan Simonsen had got the gap to Cullen’s Ferrari down to 25-seconds with Jon Barnes in the Brookspeed Viper the only other car on the lead lap 10-seconds further back.
Nigel Greensall in the M-Tech Ferrari was catching the #7 RPM Viper of Richard Evans and Greensall moved ahead of the Viper on lap 70 at Redgate for 8th place and was 11-seconds behind 7th placed Tom Ferrier in the Tech 9 Lamborghini. Greensall closed the gap and ten laps from home moved ahead of the Lamborghini at the last corner.
There was also a collision at the Old Hairpin between the Richmond Racing Ginetta of Andreas Bostrom and the Nissan 350Z of Maxi Jazz, with the Ginetta pulling off the circuit into retirement and Maxi Jazz bringing the Nissan back to the pits with a lot of rear end damage. The Promotorsport mechanics managed to patch up the car to get the driver back out on track for the last few laps of the race.
With 15-minutes of the race remaining Jeremy Metcalfe looked settled for his second win of the year, 14-seconds ahead of David Jones. Michael Cullen had started to eat into Jones’ cushion but the Irish driver also had Allan Simonsen closing him down and it looked like that the Dane would catch the #15 Ferrari in the closing laps of the race.
Jon Barnes in the #40 Brookspeed Viper seemed to be struggling with the car and on lap 88 a spin at MacLeans forced him into the pits with a lack of brakes. The championship winning Viper looked like it was heading into retirement but James Gornall decided to take it back out for the last few laps to bring the car home with one championship point. Richard Evans also had to retire his #7 RPM Viper just six laps from home, pulling off at the entrance to Redgate Corner and Nigel Greensall’s race nearly ending in disaster at MacLeans when the Ferrari spun off the track into the gravel trap. A quick push from the marshals got him going again but not before he had lost the hard fought place to Tom Ferrier in the Tech9 Lamborghini.
Matt Griffin had also moved up the field in the #4 Chad Peninsula Racing Ferrari and in the closing stages of the race had moved up to 5th place, one lap adrift of the leading four cars.
Jeremy Metcalfe began the last lap of the race but all eyes were on Michael Cullen and Allan Simonsen who were nose to tail for the final podium place. However that became the battle for second when a suspension failure on the last lap forced David Jones to retire less than two miles form home. Cullen was not going to yield his position without a fight and as the two cars headed down the straight to the last corner there wasn’t an inch of daylight between the two cars. As they powered out of the last corner Cullen got sideways and Simonsen pounced drawing alongside the CRS Ferrari but Cullen kept his foot on the gas and they crossed the line side by side with Michael Cullen just getting the place by just 73 thousandths of a second.
Jeremy Metcalfe and Luke Hines were all smiles on the podium as the ten points for the win confirmed them as 2008 British GT Vice Champions, with Michael Cullen confirmed in third place for the season.
“I’m really happy to win the final race of the year,” said a very happy Luke Hines. “I enjoyed the opening laps as there was a lot of pushing and shoving. It was good to take the lead and bring it all the way to the pit stop in first place. The whole team has worked really hard this weekend so I’m delighted for all of them.”
“That was a tough race,” continued Metcalfe. “The car felt so good though that I was able to hold back at the end and preserve fuel. Luke did a great job at the start. The team has been great all year and I want to thank them for a fantastic season.”
Stewart Linn and Matt Nicol-Jones took their 8th GT4 win of the year, finishing a lap ahead of 2008 GT4 Vice Champions Hunter Abbott and Rob Austin, with Abbott taking the consolation of establishing a new GT4 lap record for Donington Park.
Round 14 of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship can be seen on Channel 4 in the UK and on Motors TV in the UK and across Europe from Saturday 25 October. CLICK HERE to see the full TV schedule and visit britishgt.com for further updates on this year and the 2009 season.
Round 14: Result
1 - 16 - GT3 - Jeremy METCALFE / Luke HINES - Ferrari 430 - 2:01:06.562 - 98 laps
2 - 15 - GT3 - Michael CULLEN / Paddy SHOVLIN - Ferrari 430 - +14.820s
3 - 23 - GT3 - Hector LESTER / Allan SIMONSEN - Ferrari 430 - +14.893s
4 - 22 - GT3 - David JONES / Godfrey JONES - Ascari KZ1R - +1 lap
5 - 4 - GT3 - Matt GRIFFIN / Peter BAMFORD - Ferrari 430 - +1 lap
6 - 9 - GT3 - Oliver MORLEY / Tom FERRIER - Lamborghini Gallardo - +2 laps
7 - 26 - GT3 - Duncan CAMERON / Nigel GREENSALL - Ferrari 430 - +3 laps
8 - 40 - GT3 - Jon BARNES / James GORNALL - Viper Competition Coupe - +4 laps
9 - 88 - GT4 - Stewart LINN / Matt NICOL-JONES - Ginetta G50 - +6 laps
10 - 7 - GT3 - Steve TANDY / Richard EVANS - Viper Competition Coupe - +7 laps
11 - 55 - GT4 - Hunter ABBOTT / Rob AUSTIN - Ginetta G50 - +7 laps
12 - 51 - GT4 - Nigel MOORE / Jamie ROBINSON - Ginetta G50 - +32 laps
13 - 101 - INV - Bjorn GUSAVSON / Andreas BOSTROM - Ginetta G50 - +32 laps
DNC - 20 - GT3 - Craig WILKINS / Aaron SCOTT - Viper Competition Coupe - +33 laps
DNC - 1 - GT3 - Henry FLETCHER / Phil KEEN - Viper Competition Coupe - +34 laps
DNC - 14 - GT3 - Michael MEADOWS / James SUTTON - Ferrari 430 - +44 laps
DNC - 11 - GT3 - Ben de ZILLE BUTLER / Guy HARRINGTON - Lamborghini Gallardo - +45laps
DNC - 42 - GT3 - Tom ALEXANDER / Michael BENTWOOD - Aston Martin DBRS9 - +66 laps
DNC - 2 - GT3 - Nick FOSTER / Nigel REDWOOD - Viper Competition Coupe - +84 laps
DNC - 54 - GT4 - Derek PALMER / Maxi JAZZ - Nissan 350Z - +35 laps
DNC - 50 - GT4 - Joe OSBORNE / Phil BAILEY - Ginetta G50 - +47 laps
DNC - 71 - GT4 - Ian STINTON / Paul MARSH - Ginetta G50 - +61 laps
DNC - 52 - GT4 - Alex MORTIMER / Bradley ELLIS - Ginetta G50 - +86 laps
22 - GT3 - Godfrey JONES - Ascari KZ1R - 1:09.854 - 100.87mph - 162.33kph
55 - GT4 - Hunter ABBOTT - Ginetta G50 - 1:15.799 - 92.96mph - 149.60kph
Championship Positions – Final
1= Jon Barnes Viper Competition Coupe 76
1= James Gornall Viper Competition Coupe 76
3= Jeremy Metcalfe Ferrari 430 62
3= Luke Hines Ferrari 430 62
5 Michael Cullen Ferrari 430 60
6 Paddy Shovlin Ferrari 430 55