Jordan & Warnock - Kings of the Castle
25 June 2001
Mike Jordan and David Warnock scooped victory in a thrilling seventh round of the Privilege Insurance British GT Championship at Castle Combe yesterday, in front of a record crowd of 17,000 sun-drenched fans at the Wiltshire track.
Michael Caine and Bobby Verdon-Roe retained pole position after second qualifying for the seventh round of the Privilege Insurance British GT Championship at Castle Combe. The TVR Cerbera Speed 12 set the pace in the first session and that time was not bettered in the second session.
The battle for pole was between the Speed 12 and the Lister Storm of Mike Jordan/David Warnock. Eventually, Caine edged clear by four tenths of a second.
''We knew we could do it. We made a slight change to the car and went two tenths quicker,'' said Caine. With temperatures rising, few significant improvements were made in the second session and Verdon-Roe/Caine were content to sit out much of the session to preserve the car and tyres for the race. ''We changed a couple of things and we've found a good balance for the race,'' Caine added.
Jordan challenged for pole in the Lister in the first session, before handing the car over to Warnock. ''I thought we could get pole, but then Caine just found it,'' said Jordan.
Warnock, straight from finishing 16th at Le Mans last weekend, concentrated on re-learning a circuit he last drove on in 1989. ''The important thing was to give David plenty of track time,'' Jordan explained.
Two seconds slower than the leading pair was the Chrysler Viper of Rob Wilson/Tim Harvey, which missed the pre-race test session and spent the morning qualifying session playing catch-up. However, life was far from straightforward at Hayles Racing as the Viper missed the second session completely. Engine problems, possible a damaged valve, struck at the end of the first session and the team now faces a major task to get the car repaired for the race. ''We hope to rebuild the engine in the back of the truck,'' said Harvey.
Completing the GT category line-up was the Tech 9 Porsche 911GT2 of Ashley Ward/Jonathan Rowland. ''We really needed to test here,'' said Ward. Having missed testing, they spent qualifying working to find a balance for the car.
Martin Short was delighted to set the GTO pace in the Tuscan R, even though the car later stopped with Rob Barff at the wheel in the first session when the throttle cable snapped. New construction Dunlop tyres had helped the Tuscan R go even quicker than during the pre-race test day.
''We'll change the car again for the second session. There is a bit more to come yet,'' promised Short. In the hotter afternoon sessions the top times did not change, although the car was brought into the pits part way through the afternoon session after hitting noise problems.
Making it a great qualifying for TVR was the other Tuscan R of Steve Hyde/Richard Stanton in second place, four tenths of a second slower than the Rollcentre Racing car.
A storming second session time put the Chrysler Viper of Ben Devlin/Curtis Hayles into third. Back in a lowly fifth place was the championship leading Porsche of Kelvin Burt/Marino Franchitti, behind its sister car in the hands of Matt Turner/Ed Horner.
Having been third in the morning session, the Burt/Franchitti Porsche dropped to fifth in the afternoon for its lowest grid position of the season. ''The TVR is bringing it to us,'' said team boss Paul Robe. For Turner and Horner, out-qualifying their team mates was a significant result.
Sixth in GTO went the Porsche of Mark Sumpter/Shaun Balfe. ''I'm pleased with that. We've gone a second faster today,'' said Sumpter.
Race: 60 minutes (52 laps)
Right from the start, the TVR of Verdon-Roe fired straight into a lead that was out to half a minute before the round of pit stops started. In BV-R's wake, Rob Wilson planted the Viper into second and raced well with a repaired engine to fend off Warnock in the Lister. Soon after the first driver changes, with Harvey now in the Viper, the complexion of the race changed dramatically.
Under braking for Camp, Harvey tried to negotiate two backmarkers and clipped the Marcos Mantis of Charlotte Osborn. The Viper looped into a high speed spin and rammed the tyre barriers. Tim was unharmed, but the car was out of the race. ''There were two slower cars having their own race. But the tyre wall did a really good job,'' said Harvey. He was later excluded from the results for careless driving.
With the Viper left in a dangerous position, the safety car was called out while marshals moved the car away. That was great news for Jordan, now in the Lister, but a disaster for the TVR team. ''I've got this switch on the dashboard that says safety car,'' joked Warnock. ''But I still think Mike's got his work cut out,'' he added, as Jordan set about getting ahead of the GTO cars that split the TVR from the Lister.
However, the TVR had another problem, with a misfire developing. ''It started towards the end of my stint,'' said BV-R, as Caine battled to try and fend off the charging Jordan. With four laps to run, Jordan caught Caine and dived into the lead under braking for Quarry. Caine tried to respond, but his tyres were pretty much finished and just over two and a half seconds split them at the flag.
''You never give up fighting. I just had to keep my head down,'' said Jordan after a sterling chase. But for the TVR crew, certain victory had been dashed by the safety car.
In GTO, a blistering start from the Porsche of Matt Turner/Ed Horner put the car into the lead on the opening lap, before Barff and Burt forged ahead to turn in an epic battle for the lead. Several times Burt got the Porsche up alongside, but Barff held on tenaciously.
However, on the 21st lap, the TVR suffered a major engine failure on the exit of Tower. Barff had no choice but to pull off, and hot oil then caused a minor fire before the marshals extinguished it. ''Martin is gutted,'' said Barff of his team boss and co-driver.
That incident probably led to the demise of the Burt/Franchitti Porsche. As the TVR slowed suddenly, the Porsche just touched the back of the TVR and that was enough to damage a radiator. Burt continued to lead the class until the pit stop, but once the team saw the radiator damage during the pit stop, the car was retired on the spot.
That left the Mark Sumpter/Shaun Balfe Porsche 911GT3RS heading GTO, but the Tuscan R of Hyde/Stanton was chasing hard, and on lap 39 Hyde finally forged ahead of Sumpter at Tower. The Tuscan team then had an anxious finish to the race as the car developed a misfire, but it didn't cost Hyde enough time to allow Sumpter to close back in. ''We've worked so hard to get here. It's great to put it over on the Porsches,'' said an elated Hyde.
''That's a cracking result,'' said Balfe. ''Our priority was to be the best Porsche. The safety car hurt us badly,'' he explained. Into third in GTO came the Porsche of Turner/Horner, which was badly delayed when the GT category Porsche 911GT2 of Ashley Ward sprayed oil onto Horner's windscreen.
Fourth in GTO came the Porsche of David and Godfrey Jones while fifth was a great result for Shane Bland and Shane Lynch in the Eclipse Motorsport Marcos Mantis GTO. Sixth was the Lotus Esprit of Matt Johnson/Robert Ross for its best result to date.