GT Championship in association with Simonstone Motors – Qualifying - After the MGs had got the morning’s qualifying sessions underway, it was the turn of the GT championship to sort out their running order for their second race of the season. The combination of the late Easter and the May bank holiday falling on the 1st of the month meant that with only two weeks between the meetings, the high attrition rate in the season opener resulted in a rather depleted entry list this time out.
The early championship standings showed a three-way tie at the top between David Krayem, Tim Woodman and reigning champion Chris Vinall, yet all three were AWOL for round two. Other notable absences were Nigel Mustill and his Lamborghini and the mega Midget of Chris Southcott. In contrast, Steve Hall had successfully restored his Audi TT silhouette and was no doubt hoping for better reliability this time. Perry Waddams had not been so successful in remedying the issues with his Chevy powered TVR so called on the services of his spare TVR Tuscan with its miniscule (by comparison) 4.5 litre V8.
A pleasing sight to all was the gleaming white Audi TT of Tony Hutchings, fresh from its extensive rebuild after sustaining huge damage in last season’s opening round. We’re guessing the midnight oil was burned to make it to the circuit and that in entering the GTs, Tony could give himself the maximum amount of valuable track time before re-engaging in the battle for the saloon championship.
As the qualifying got underway, the GT curse struck again for Adam Prebble, retiring his time served Rover Tomcat before completing the first lap. The session then stalled before the second lap could be chalked up with red flags waving. The reason for the stoppage appeared on the back of the recovery truck. Perry Waddams’ stand-in TVR was chauffeured back to the paddock with a somewhat sooty looking back end as a result of a fiery tantrum from its V8 engine; crying tears of oil in the process and necessitating the circuit maintenance team to be scrambled to mop up.
By the time the session was restarted, the sun had broken through the mixed clouds nicely and began to transform the tarmac from its dark shimmering black to a more reassuring grippy grey.
2015 Champion Oliver Bull set the early pace before Squibb got his Evo settled into its stride to go quicker. Tony Bennett span in an attempt to ‘fly his Caterham to the Moon’ (cringe - sorry, couldn’t help myself!), presumably on the TVR oil/cement paste, leaving it stranded on the racing line and causing another red flag.
With the timetable already having slipped from the first red flag, this time the cars were directed back to the paddock with the grid positions set before many had barely got any heat into their tyres. Before his pirouette, Bennett had managed to secure P3, joined on the second row by Steve hall in his Audi TT RS. The second Mitsubishi Evo of Bradley John qualified fifth fastest lining up with and Bob Higgins who put the ‘family’ Ginetta on P6. Sole class C entrant David Hathaway took P7 in his Ferrari alongside Michael Timberlake’s BMW M3, the best of the class D runners.
GT Championship in association with Simonstone Motors – Round 2
The rolling start initially favoured the lightweight silhouettes of Bull and Hall, achieving swift forward momentum before Squibb was able to lay all his horses down and retake the lead. Hall followed the Evo through into second leaving Bull to chase. The four wheel drive of Bradley John’s Evo kept the Ginetta of Higgins small in his mirrors and began to close the gap on the Caterham of Bennett in front. Hall could do nothing to stop the leader pulling an ever increasing gap so turned his attention to the Tigra of Bull, who was slowly but surely looming bigger in his mirrors.
One of the closest battles was at the very back of the field with the SEAT of Carleton Williams in hot pursuit of the Michael Timberlake’s BMW.
Steve Hall’s defence of second position became an unexpected defence of the lead on lap 9 as Squibb’s Mitsubishi lost drive to all four of his wheels. The gap to Bull closed further when the back markers came into play and set the stage for an exciting battle for the lead over the remaining laps. Oliver threw everything he could at Hall, even coming very close to getting tangled up when lapping Hathaway’s Ferrari in the process but had to settle for the silver medal.
Tony Bennett had an easy run to the final podium step after the demise of Bradley John’s Evo at the midpoint of the race, while Bob Higgins’ 4th was equally unchallenged. Tony Hutchings put some more miles on his new TT but raised concerns for the later saloon race as he slowed noticeably in the closing stages. Carleton William’s relentless pressure was rewarded, squeezing his SEAT past Timberlake’s BMW on the final lap.
With most of the early championship contenders missing from the grid, it was all change at the top of the championship points table. 4 drivers who had strong results find themselves tied at the top of the standings. Bob Higgins and Oliver Bull in class A, David Hathaway in class C and Michael Timberlake in class D all find themselves on eight points each going into the next round at the end of the month.Posted by Neil Thomas on Monday 8 May 2017