So you wanted more! More from the British GT opener

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Britain’s premier GT Series kicked off to an explosive start last week at the picturesque Oulton Park circuit.

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Race 1 began with the #15 Fortec Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 on pole position, after a blistering qualifying time of 1:37.098, two tenths faster than the second place of  the #27 Vita4One 458 of Jay Palmer and Mateo Bobbi.

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Although the circuit was dry, conditions remained difficult as the biting wind and cold temperatures made heating the tyres incredibly challenging. On the warm-up lap, the Vita4One car found itself buried in the Armco, causing a delay to the start of the race as the damage to the barriers was assessed.

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Eventually the debris was cleared and the race, and season, was set to go. With the damage to the rear portion of the #27 car, second place was taken by the #33 Trackspeed Racing Porsche of John Misnhaw and Phil Keen, followed closely by the #1 Motorbase Porsche piloted by Ahmad Al Harthy.

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The British GT Championship is populated by some fantastic driving talent, and on such a small circuit like Oulton Park it manifests itself in exciting, close racing. Particularly in the midfield.

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Midway through the race, the front of the field started to shake up. The #15 Mercedes and the #31 Trackspeed car of David Ashburn were involved in a laps-long scrap for the top spot, with both of the Trackspeed team-mates finding their way through to take the lead. They remained this way through to the chequered flag, bringing the first race of the season to a great finish for two thirds of the Trackspeed team, with their fellow #32 car facing a disqualification after a first-lap altercation.

 

Race 1 Results

1 33 GT3 Trackspeed Jon Minshaw
Phil Keen
Porsche 997 GT3 R 33 laps
1:00:34.559
1:36.806
2 31 GT3 Trackspeed David Ashburn
Nick Tandy
Porsche 997 GT3 R 33 laps
+1.190
1:36.217
3 15 GT3 Fortec Motorsports Jason Minshaw
James Walker
Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 33 laps
+24.428
1:37.337
4 1 GT3 Motorbase Performance Ahmad Al Harthy
Michael Caine
Porsche 997 GT3 R 33 laps
+25.264
1:37.843
5 3 GT3 Rosso Verde Hector Lester
Allan Simonsen
Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 33 laps
+25.607
1:36.130
6 79 GT3 Ecurie Ecosse Marco Attard
Oliver Bryant
BMW Z4 GT3 33 laps
+26.144
1:37.362
7 13 GT3 AF Corse John Dhillon
Aaron Scott
Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 33 laps
+31.829
1:37.338
8 21 GT3 MTECH Duncan Cameron
Matt Griffin
Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 33 laps
+32.542
1:37.038
9 25 GT3 United Autosports Mark Patterson
Matt Bell
Audi R8 LMS ultra 33 laps
+33.029
1:36.734
10 6 GT3 PGF-Kinfaun AMR Phil Dryburgh
John Gaw
Aston Martin Vantage GT3 33 laps
+44.876
1:37.346

 

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The second race of the day started with the #3 Rosso Verde Ferrari of Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen leading the grid, with the #31 Trackspeed car again poised to take a high position from the number two grid box.

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Their fight for the top spot was possibly the highlight of the race, with each driver setting fastest laps consecutively as they chased each other down. However, a slow pit stop pushed the Ferrari down the field, eventually bringing the car home in 4th place.

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After an abysmal Race 1, the #007 Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage of Andrew Howard and Jonathan Adam were surely hoping for a better Race 2, starting from third spot, and holding the position from the start. However, a mistake from the #33 Trackspeed Porsche found the car being launched directly at the Aston, pushing them to 22nd place for the chequered flag.

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And mere minutes later, the IDL-CWS Ginetta G55 found itself erupting into flames on the back half of the circuit, after a broken exhaust snagged, and then erupted a fuel line.

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The driver, Colin White, quickly brought the car to a stop and jumped from the car, though forgetting to turn off the ignition, leading to an extended and incredibly difficult to extinguish blaze. Adding to the story, the only other Ginetta in the field, ran by Team LNT, had suffered a similar, but smaller blaze in Race 1. Whether it was a coincidence or a major issue is yet to be seen.

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The race resumed with two minutes left on the clock, but it couldn’t stop the #31 car from taking the win, followed closely by the United Autosports’ Audi, and Ecurie Ecosse’s #79 BMW Z4, wrapping up the opening round of the championship. Round 2 is at Rockingham on the 6th of May.

 

Race 2 Results

 

1 31 GT3 Trackspeed David Ashburn
Nick Tandy
Porsche 997 GT3 R 34 laps
1:01:24.750
1:35.865
2 25 GT3 United Autosports Mark Patterson
Matt Bell
Audi R8 LMS ultra 34 laps
+0.280
1:36.775
3 79 GT3 Ecurie Ecosse Marco Attard
Oliver Bryant
BMW Z4 GT3 34 laps
+3.604
1:37.307
4 3 GT3 Rosso Verde Hector Lester
Allan Simonsen
Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 34 laps
+4.155
1:35.861
5 888 GT3 888Optimum Steve Tandy
Dan Brown
BMW Z4 GT3 34 laps
+8.280
1:37.276
6 14 GT3 Fortec Motorsports Benji Hetherington
Ollie Hancock
Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 34 laps
+9.342
1:37.708
7 18 GT3 FF Corse Gary Eastwood
Rob Barff
Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 34 laps
+9.741
1:37.383
8 22 GT3 Preci-Spark David Jones
Godfrey Jones
McLaren MP4-12C 34 laps
+10.416
1:38.082
9 1 GT3 Motorbase Performance Ahmad Al Harthy
Michael Caine
Porsche 997 GT3 R 34 laps
+10.656
1:38.032
10 23 GT3 United Autosports Zak Brown
Glynn Geddie
McLaren MP4-12C 34 laps
+11.550
1:38.070

 

Full race results, season standings, and more, can be found at britishgt.com

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Photos and story by Nat Twiss, April 2013

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