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Wins for Harvey/Wilson and Burt/Franchitti

8 May 2001

Tim Harvey and Rob Wilson won a thrilling fourth round of the Privilege Insurance British GT Championship at Oulton Park this afternoon (Sunday May 7). Their Chrysler Viper moved ahead in the closing stages after a race-long battle with the Lister Storm of Mike Jordan/David Warnock and the TVR Cerbera of Bobby Verdon-Roe/Michael Caine.

In the GTO category, the Porsche 911GT3RS of Kelvin Burt/Marino Franchitti swept to a commanding victory. Into a fine second came the TVR Tuscan R of Steve Hyde/Richard Stanton for its best result to date.

Harvey and Wilson again set the pace in qualifying for the fourth round of the championship, with Harvey securing his fourth pole position of the season.

''I only got one good clear lap, but that was enough,'' reckoned Harvey. ''The car is spot on!'' Just a second behind the Viper was the TVR Cerbera Speed 12 of Verdon-Roe/Caine, which continued its strong form from testing to take second fastest and spilt the big two cars in the category.

Third fastest was the Lister Storm of Jordan/Warnock, with the TVR Cerbera Speed 12 of Jonathan Rowland/Ashley Ward in fourth. Having missed much of the pre-race test day after suffering a diff problem, the Lister squad concentrated on finding a good race set-up during the qualifying sessions.

Few significant changes came in the second qualifying session, leaving the Chrysler Viper at the head of the field for Monday's race. Up to fifth overall, although still fourth in GTO, went the TVR of Ward/Rowland.

In GTO, Burt planted his Porsche 911GT3RS firmly at the top of the times, chased by the Chrysler Viper of Ben Devlin/Curtis Hayles and the TVR of Martin Short/Rob Barff.

''It's all going to plan so far,'' said Burt, adding that his advantage over the Chrysler Viper had grown since the test day. The reason was that the Hayles Racing team had been forced to change a diff on the Viper after testing and was finding a mis-match in the gearing.

The afternoon sessions brought few major improvements, so the Viper stayed second ahead of the TVR Cerbera Speed 6 of Martin Short/Rob Barff.

The only significant afternoon improvement in GTO came as the Godfrey Jones/David Jones Porsche jumped into fourth slot at the expense of team mates Mark Sumpter/Shaun Balfe.

Race: 55 minutes (33 laps):

''It was important to get a race right. We hadn't beaten the Lister on equal terms in the dry,'' said Harvey after a brilliant GT contest that raged all the way to the flag. In front of 10,000 fans, Harvey/Wilson brought the Chrysler Viper home ahead of the Jordan/Warnock Lister and the Verdon-Roe/Caine TVR Cerbera Speed 12 in a cliff-hanging finish.

From the start, Wilson put the Viper into the lead, but Caine was soon pressing hard in the TVR. While Warnock bedded new brakes in on the Lister in the opening laps, Caine was soon getting impatient. Finally, into Old Hall for the tenth time he found half a gap and made it stick with a very bold move.

Once ahead, Caine instantly built his lead as Warnock homed in on the Viper before the pit stop window. A very good stop sent Verdon-Roe out still ahead, while the Lister got ahead of the Viper during the stops.

What started as a 13-second lead for BVR gradually came down as Jordan and Harvey gave chase. For several laps Jordan kept the Viper at bay, but Harvey was not about to let it stay that way. They even made contact at Knickerbrook on one lap as Harvey attacked and moved ahead. The incident was later the subject of a protest by Jordan and his team, but the result remained unaltered.

To add to BVR's woes, a safety car period cancelled his remaining lead and soon after the green Harvey squeezed ahead into Old Hall. Once clear and with five laps to run, Harvey built a decisive lead as Jordan pushed Verdon-Roe back to third with an even more audacious move that started at Lodge and ended at Old Hall.

Behind the three warriors, Jonathan Rowland/Ashley Ward had a strong run to fourth in their TVR, while any chance of the BW Motorsport Porsche challenging was lost with an early spin by Danny Wright.

At present, there is nothing any one can do about the Porsche 911GT3RS of Burt and Franchitti in GTO. Another charging drive by Burt followed up by a solid stint by Franchitti produced a commanding win. Their margin was then dramatically increased when they came out very well in a late safety car period, but the race was long won by then.

''The lap times were consistent from the beginning to the end. The car and tyres were perfect,'' said Burt as he summed up his race.

However, behind the Porsche there was plenty going on, even though transmission failure put the Rob Barff/Martin Short TVR out on the fifth lap. Instead, the Tuscan R of Steve Hyde/Richard Stanton turned in a cracking race to take second, having battled ahead of the Matt Turner/Ed Horner Porsche. There was seldom little in it, and Hyde had to keep pushing to bring the TVR home less than a second ahead of the Porsche. ''It's good to get a finish,'' said Turner after a run of retirements.

Fourth should have been the Porsche of David and Godfrey Jones after another attacking performance that kept them will in touch with the second place battle. However, a broken throttle cable stopped them two laps from home, allowing Mark Sumpter/Shaun Balfe up to fourth in their Porsche.

Missing from the race was the Chrysler Viper of Devlin/Hayles which needed an engine change after qualifying. However, problems with the replacement engine forced them to miss the race.

Results:

GT category:

1. Tim Harvey/Rob Wilson (Chrysler Viper) 33 laps in 56m24.907s
2. Mike Jordan/David Warnock (Lister Storm) 56m27.360s
3. Bobby Verdon-Roe/Michael Caine (TVR Speed 12) 56m28.342s
4. Jonathan Rowland/Ashley Ward (TVR Cerbera Speed 12) 32 laps

GTO category:

1. Marino Franchitti/Kelvin Burt (Porsche 911GT3RS) 57m05.936s
2. Richard Stanton/Steve Hyde (TVR Tuscan R) 32 laps
3. Ed Horner/Matt Turner (Porsche 911GT3RS) 32 laps
4. Shaun Balfe/Mark Sumpter (Porsche 911GT3R) 32 laps
5. Gavin Pickering/Steven Brady (Porsche 911GT3R) 32 laps
6. David Jones/Godfrey Jones (Porsche 911GT3R) 31 laps


Championship points after round four:

GT category:

Warnock, Jordan, Harvey and Wilson, 54; 5 Verdon-Roe and Caine, 34; etc.

GTO category:

Burt and Franchitti, 50; 3 Sumpter and Balfe, 32; 5 Jones and Jones, 31; etc.

Next round: Croft, 28 May.


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