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Wins for Warnock/Jordan and Rymer/Simmons

30 April 2001

In a race of changing fortunes, Mike Jordan and David Warnock swept to a thrilling victory in the third round of the Privilege Insurance British GT Championship at Donington Park on Sunday (29 April).

Jordan powered the Lister Storm into the lead on the last lap of the hour-long race by overtaking the Chrysler Viper of Rob Wilson/Tim Harvey.

In the GTO category, victory went to the Porsche 911GT3R of Adam Simmons/Terry Rymer. When the leading Porsche of Kelvin Burt/Marino Franchitti hit gearbox trouble late in the race, Rymer moved ahead.

Qualifying:

A rain shower just before the start of the first qualifying session at Donington threw teams into confusion. However, with the track rapidly drying, the top times were all set on slick tyres, with times tumbling in the closing minutes of the session.

With more rain falling just before the second qualifying session, no times changed and the grid was formed by the morning session. Just before the session started, a rain shower swept across the track. Although it soon stopped raining, the track never dried enough for any times to improve.

The battle for GT pole was between the Chrysler Viper of Wilson/Harvey and the Lister Storm of Jordan/Warnock. The Lister was back in action after suffering a blown engine in Thursday's test session, but Harvey was able to secure provisional pole on his closing lap of the session.

Third fastest in GT went to the TVR of Ashley Ward/Jonathan Rowland, making good progress after a productive test day on Thursday. The same applied to the fourth fastest Quaife R4 of Mike Quaife and Philip Hopkins. Having missed the opening two races while solving engine dramas, the team worked through the night to have the car ready to run the engine in during the test day

In trouble, however, was the Marcos Mantara of Phil Hindley/Ian McKellar, which spun early in the session and clouted the wall. Damage to the suspension forced the car to miss the race.

''It's a shame it rained for the second session. I enjoy qualifying because it's the chance to really see how quick the car is,'' said Harvey.

Warnock confirmed that the conditions were very difficult. ''It is very treacherous. The line is starting to dry, but you have to go off line to pass slower cars,'' he reported.

In the GTO category, Burt again set the pace in the Parr Motorsport Porsche 911GT3RS, and even briefly held overall pole position as conditions improved. Into a strong second in GTO went the TVR Cerbera Speed 6 of Martin Short/Rob Barff, with the Porsches of Shaun Balfe/Mark Sumpter and Matt Turner/Ed Horner completing the top four.

Once again showing highly encouraging pace was the Marcos Mantis GTO of Jacky van der Ende and Shane Bland, which set fifth fastest time in GTO ahead of several of the Porsches.

Burt/Franchitti remained at the top of GTO after the second session, while second fastest Short and Barff were very happy that the rain arrived. ''If it rains, we'll keep second on the grid,'' said Short before the session. His prayers were answered!

Race: 60 minutes (37 laps):

On the third lap things looked bad for the Lister when a spin by Warnock at the Old Hairpin cost a lot of time as he struggled to get the car moving again on the wet grass. However, Warnock then climbed back up the order before handing over to Jordan. Meanwhile, Wilson had extended a useful lead in the Viper and Harvey seemed set to take the car to its second win of the year.

But as the closing stages unfolded, the gap between the leading cars dropped from more than half a minute as Jordan chased relentlessly. With 10 minutes to go, the Viper was in major tyre trouble. ''I kept it together for a long time, but if I'd pushed any harder it would have rooted the tyres even more,'' said Harvey. ''I drove as smoothly as I could, but we just lost all the grip.''

''With 10 minutes to go I didn't think we'd do it. But I knew he was struggling and I just needed to push him all the way,'' said Jordan. Into the last lap the cars were nose to tail and Jordan boldly dived ahead down the Craner Curves. It was a thrilling end to another absorbing race, and leaves the Lister three points ahead of the Viper in the championship.

Into third place came the TVR Cerbera Speed 12 of Bobby Verdon-Roe/Michael Caine, albeit not on the pace of the leading pair. Third place could have gone to the Porsche 911GT2 of Calum Lockie/Dave Welz after another giant-killing performance. However, a lost alternator belt forced a pit stop. Having lost two laps, Welz rejoined and they salvaged fifth in GT behind the Porsche 996 of Neil Cunningham/Danny Wright. ''Dave and his crew have done an amazing job,'' said Lockie after yet another charge up the order from 15th on the grid. He got up to third place on merit and actually led the race during the pit stops.

In the GTO category, the Burt/Franchitti car did everything right to establish a considerable lead in the class. ''We had a 20-second lead and it looked like third overall,'' said Burt. However, Franchitti suddenly slowed with three laps to go as gearbox problems hit. ''I came out of the Melbourne loop and had a box full of neutrals. I messed about for the best part of a lap trying to get a gear,'' said Marino. Once he had jammed the 'box in fourth gear, he was able to salvage second place.

Victory instead went to the Rymer/Simmons car and it was a win they really enjoyed, with Rymer celebrating even before he got out of the car at the finish. ''We just pushed and pushed. I just wanted Terry to bring it home,'' said an elated Simmons.

Third in GTO should have gone to the Martin Short/Rob Barff TVR Cerbera Speed 6, but that also hit gearbox trouble, and had to be jammed in sixth gear to limp to the finish in ninth place in GTO. With a charging drive in the second half of the race, the Ben Devlin/Curtis Hayles Chrysler Viper pulled up to take third. ''I saw P3 on the pit board, so I decided to stay where I was and collect the points,'' said Devlin after a storming performance.

Rounding out the top six in GTO were David Jones/Godfrey Jones (Porsche 911GT3R), Richard Stanton/Steve Hyde (TVR Tuscan R) and Mark Sumpter/Shaun Balfe (Porsche 911GT3RS).

Results:

GT category:

1 Mike Jordan/David Warnock (Lister Storm) 37 laps in 60m08.227s
2 Tim Harvey/Rob Wilson (Chrysler Viper) 60m10.502s
3 Bobby Verdon-Roe/Michael Caine (TVR Speed 12) 36 laps
4 Neil Cunningham/Danny Wright (Porsche 996) 35 laps
5 Dave Welz/Calum Lockie (Porsche 911GT2) 35 laps

GTO category:

1 Terry Rymer/Adam Simmons (Porsche 911GT3R) 36 laps
2 Marino Franchitti/Kelvin Burt (Porsche 911GT3RS) 36 laps
3 Curtis Hayles/Ben Devlin (Chrysler Viper GTS) 36 laps
4 David Jones/Godfrey Jones (Porsche 911GT3R) 36 laps
5 Richard Stanton/Steve Hyde (TVR Tuscan R) 36 laps
6 Shaun Balfe/Mark Sumpter (Porsche 911GT3R) 36 laps

Championship points after round three:

GT category:

1 Warnock and Jordan, 42; 3 Harvey and Wilson, 39; 5 Lockie, 26; 6 Verdon-Roe and Caine, 24; etc.

GTO category:

1 Burt and Franchitti, 35; 3 Simmons and Rymer, 27; 5 Jones and Jones, 26; etc.

Next round: Oulton Park, 7 May.


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