Pole position qualifier Carl Breeze took a superb lights-to-flag victory during round 23 of the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup at a sweltering Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit , Saturday, 1st October, to overturn Tom Sharp for the all-important championship lead.
Now heading the standings on gross and net scores, the latter taking into account the category’s double ‘drop score’ ruling, Breeze’s fifth victory and 15th podium of the season meant a near-perfect start to the weekend for the Total Control Racing driver with two more races to come tomorrow.
“Recently I’ve not been getting great starts so I’m really happy we made a fantastic getaway today”, said the new points leader, “I held the lead at Paddock and tried to get the hammer down, which we did, but then the dreaded Safety Car came out.
“I just had to relax at the re-start and after that we seemed to be able to stay ahead well. Through the Grand Prix section of the circuit, Hawthorn, Westfield and Sheene, I was leaving nothing to spare through there – I was pretty much on the ragged edge and that gave us breathing space when we came back on to the Indy loop. Psychologically this win is really important for the championship.”
The top four places were set as the cars exited Paddock Hill Bend for the first time with Breeze able to protect the lead ahead of Sharp, Adam Morgan and Nathan Freke – the four title contenders. Due to G50 Cup runner Jake Hill coming to grief in the gravel at Stirling’s Bend on lap one, the Safety Car was deployed on the third tour but only for a couple of laps before racing resumed.
Breeze got away well at the re-start with the top four running as per the original order, the fight for fifth though had guest driver Patrick Watts having to work incredibly hard to keep Phil Broad and Colin White at bay.
Marking the former British Touring Car Championship star’s first competitive outing on slick tyres for a decade, Watts acquitted himself very well indeed in his first outing in a Ginetta G55 but had to give best to Broad and White on lap eight – at Paddock Hill Bend and Graham Hill Bend respectively.
Breeze wasn’t allowed to relax at the front with IDL’s Sharp and Ciceley Racing’s Morgan trading the fastest lap. He did everything he needed to though and took the chequered flag on lap 12 just 0.7 seconds to the good with Sharp’s margin over Morgan – who secured the new lap record with a time of 1m31.548 seconds (90.47mph) – similarly close.
“We majorly missed out by not getting pole”, said Sharp, “If we had pole we might have won today but second is still good. In these cars, they rely so much on the front splitter round the back of the circuit – it’s very fast and very tight and as soon as you get three car lengths behind someone, it’s enough to push you maybe two car lengths wider than you want and you can end up off the track.
“That’s what we struggled with really, we had to rely on a mistake from Carl (Breeze) and he didn’t make one. It’s all good though, we finished second and take the championship fight on to the next race where we can hopefully make a better start and get the lead at the first corner. Our car has been mega all weekend, really planted, so we should be strong again tomorrow.”
Fourth placed Freke was a couple of seconds adrift of the top three in his theplayer.co.uk/Century Motorsport car from Broad, White and Watts. Post-race though, CWS runner White was moved ahead of Broad in the classification when the Century driver was adjudged by officials to have gained an unfair advantage during the race.
Eighth on the road and winning the G50 class for the fourth time this year was Aaron Williamson, the FML driver finishing some 2.6 seconds ahead of Andrew Richardson who he passed for the G50 lead on lap five after climbing through superbly from fifth in class at the start.
G50 Cup points leader Tom Ingram battled through from sixth in class to third with a strong drive and, in doing so, increased his advantage over Jody Fannin in the championship to 85 points on drop scores. Fannin ended the race fifth in G50, behind Louise Richardson, with category newcomer Gary Duckman – driving the car piloted previously by Michael Doyle – bettering Rob Gaffney.
Williamson commented: “Starting fifth on the grid, we battled all the way through the race. When I got by Andrew (Richardson) for the lead, I knew how quick he was – he’s quick everywhere – but this is one of my favourite tracks and somewhere I’ve gone well before so I thought we could stay ahead.
“It was quite handy having the G55 (Watts) just ahead as it kept my concentration on going forward rather than looking in my mirrors all the time. The heat today was a killer, in the first few laps of battling you try not to let it affect you too much as there’s so much going on but towards the end it starts to take its toll. Fitness was key today, the hard work we’ve done on that has really paid off.”
Rounds 24 and 25 of the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup are scheduled to commence at 10.40 and 16.15 today, Sunday, 2nd October, with live coverage of the second encounter to be screened on Freeview, cable and digital satellite channel ITV4, on ITV4 HD and with the addition of live streaming at tv.com/touringcars
Provisional 2011 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Championship (after Rd23; inc. drop scores):1st Carl Breeze, 584pts; 2nd Adam Morgan, 571pts; 3rd Tom Sharp, 567pts; 4th Nathan Freke, 540pts; 5th George Murrells, 369pts; 6th Colin White, 366pts
Provisional 2011 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup ‘G50 Class’ Standings (after Rd23; inc. drop scores):1st Tom Ingram, 603pts; 2nd Jody Fannin, 518pts; 3rd Aaron Williamson, 512pts; 4th Jake Hill, 462pts; 5th Andrew Richardson, 350pts; 6th Louise Richardson, 220pts