MINSHAW / KEEN DUO TAKE HOME A SECOND PLACE TROPHY
Round 1 of the 2014 British GT Championship got underway this weekend with a double header at Oulton Park. The weekend saw mixed fortunes with both highs and lows for Trackspeed, the highlight being a fantastic drive by Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen in the #33 car to take second place honours in Race 2. The weekend, however, would be encapsulated by a ‘never say die’ attitude in all four drivers and by the team themselves. An ethos of never giving up would see the team rebuild a car in an evening, repair damage between races and see all four drivers make their way back through the field when luck had run out.Car 12 - J.Firth & W.Hughes
Qualifying 1: DNQ | Qualifying 2: DNQRace 1: DNF | Race 2: DNFAn unlucky run of incidents saw the #12 car of Jody Firth and Warren Hughes have a debut to forget at Oulton Park. The first of their woes came when Firth had an innocuous spin in FP2 and ended up with the car beached in the tire wall at Britten’s. Having left the car, Firth pleaded with the marshalls to stop the session to allow the car to be moved. Concerns were raised that the car was in a dangerous position, as well as having a high chance of the bodywork catching fire against the hot exhausts.
Unfortunately, a few laps later, another innocuous spin from Lee Mowle in the 888 BMW would have devastating repercussions. Almost a carbon copy of Firth’s spin, the BMW would inevitably end up in the same position. A consequent collision with the stricken Porsche resulted in major damage and two written off race cars. As a result, the Firth/Hughes car would take no further part in Saturday’s action (including Qualifying) so #12 would start both of Easter Monday’s races from last position.
Working tirelessly through the evening, the Team managed to rebuild #12 ready for Monday’s races. However, Firth and Hughes’ fortunes would not improve. A fantastic few opening laps from Firth saw #12 make it’s way up to 18th position by lap 3 from starting in P32. By lap 6, Firth sat in 16th position and would try for 15th into Cascades. However, an unfortunately timed half spin from the Jones’ McLaren would leave Firth nowhere to go and the Porsche resultantly suffered front-end damage as the two cars made contact. Firth eventually recovered the Porsche to the pits, but a broken radiator spelt the end of Race 1.
Race 2 would see Warren Hughes start and try his hand at climbing through the field. Hughes made a blistering opening lap, putting the #12 Porsche into 21st from 32nd. Unfortunately, it was Warren’s turn, as he found himself behind the McLaren of the Jones’. Jones caught Hughes out with earlier braking than was anticipated and, left with no room for avoidance, Hughes’ #12 car tagged the back of the McLaren. With a touch of déjà vu, the #12 Porsche would once again retire with a broken radiator, this time only managing 6 laps.
Car 33 - J.Minshaw & P.Keen
Qualifying 1: P8 | Qualifying 2: P12Race 1: P10 | Race 2: P2
After a promising opening few laps in Qualifying, Minshaw struggled to extract much more pace out of the Porsche, resulting in an 8th place start for Race 1. Phil Keen followed suit in much the same vane and could not improve upon 12th place in Qualifying 2. Monday’s morning Warm Up, however, showed the duo’s real potential as Phil Keen ended the session on top with a 1:36.341.
Race 1 proved a challenge for the #33 car as an incident in the opening few laps meant Minshaw would drop to P20. Ever the fighter, Minshaw did not allow this unfortunate incident to ruin his race and an impressive drive saw him bring the #33 Porsche up to 13th in time for the pit window to open. However, to add a little spice into the mix, the Safety Car was deployed just as we hit the 25-minute mark. A swift and well drilled driver change saw him hand the car over to Phil Keen and the pair would net an extra 2 positions through the stop, leaving the pits in 11th with White and Buncombe in front. The Safety Car however, would not pick up the leader leaving a huge gulf in the midfield pack. Unperturbed, Phil passed White and began reeling in Buncombe. Getting past would be a different story however, and the pair battling slowed them just enough for Kane and Schulz to enter the fray. An enthralling four way battle would play out over the remaining few laps of the race with Keen able to hold onto a well deserved and hard fought 10th position.
Race 2 would be a more challenging start position for the #33 car, having to make their way to the front from 12th position. Keen consolidated the position for the first half of the race and as the pit window opened, just as Race 1, the Safety Car was deployed for an incident on track. This time the team would choose to leave the car out and after the pit shuffle, Keen found himself in P9 as the Safety Car was called in. A stellar few laps from Keen as his opponents pitted would see the #33 car rise position lap by lap until the car was handed over to Minshaw in P6. Another slick driver change would raise the pair to P4 on pit exit and a determined drive from Minshaw would see him chasing down Attard at over half a second a lap. Fortune would smile kindly on Minshaw in the closing stages of the race, as the leaders tangled resulting in both cars falling down the field and the Safety Car once again being deployed. As the procession of cars readied for the restart, Attard was leading with Minshaw in second. Three GT4 Ginetta’s lay between them, making Minshaw’s challenge for victory all the more difficult. The race restarted with 6 minutes to go and Minshaw made light work of the back marker GT4’s. A hard charge in the remaining few minutes saw Minshaw lapping three quarters of a second faster than the leader, however, time would not be on Minshaw’s side and he finished the race in a fantastic hard fought second place.