Herridge wins British GT title at Brands
28 September 2003
The Mosler MT900R of Martin Short and Tom Herridge emerged victorious in an action - and incident - packed final round of the BRDC British GT Championship at Brands Hatch, a result good enough to give Herridge the title.
The championship-contending cars of Shaun Balfe/Jamie Derbyshire (Mosler MT900R) and Shane Lynch/Piers Johnson (TVR T400R) both crashed out after contact with other cars, meaning that Herridge and Short simply had to finish the race to confirm Herridge as champion. Short duly guided the car to victory in a race that was twice interrupted by safety car periods.
In the GT Cup category, the Morgan Aero 8 of Neil Cunningham/Adam Sharpe snatched a last-lap victory from the Lotus Elise of Chris Yandell/Dean Lanzante, after season pacesetters Patrick Pearce and Matt Griffin also retired.
The Balfe/Derbyshire Mosler was running in third in the early laps when contact with the TVR of Bob Berridge sent Derbyshire flying into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend.
"It was a late move, but I was up the inside," Berridge insisted, "It was one of those Paddock moves."
The Balfe team, however, was furious at the incident that put them out of the championship, having seen it from their own perspective.
"It is very disappointing to be removed from the championship by a driver not directly involved," sighed Derbyshire.
A safety car period followed as the TVR T400R of Rob Barff/Michael Caine led from the Porsche 911GT2 of Peter Cook/Mike Youles. However, the drama was far from over and, on lap 14, the Lynch TVR crashed out heavily at Stirlings after contact with the slower car of Alan Bonner (Marcos Mantis). Lynch was unharmed, but the car was badly damaged in a heavy impact that also wrecked the team's 2003 championship hopes.
The second safety car period prompted all of the pit-stops to come at once, and a slick stop from the Rollcentre team put its Mosler back out into the lead, ahead of the Chevrolet Corvette of Peter Le Bas/Ricky Cole. Throttle linkage failure then put the Barff/Caine TVR out of the race, and the need to refuel during the pit-stop cost the GT class Porsche of Peter Cook/Mike Youles several places.
When racing resumed, Short took control and eased clear as Cole chased. Into a superb third came the Marcos Mantis of Dan and Glenn Eagling, but the Cook/Youles Porsche grabbed the spot back in the final laps despite enduring a stop/go penalty for overtaking before the green flag restart.
"The car was fantastic and I was just keeping it steady," a delighted Herridge said as the chequered flag fell, "The guys have worked so hard this year."
"What a turn up for the books," added a jubilant Short, as his title outsider came home with the spoils.
The action continued to the flag in the GT Cup category, as Cunningham hunted down the Yandell/Lanzante Elise. Starting the last lap, the Elise was still ahead, but Cunningham caught Lanzante on the run to the flag and stormed into the lead.
"Twenty years of experience did that," reckoned Cunningham, "I just kept pushing on!"
Unaware that the Morgan was a GT Cup contender, the Lotus team was caught out on the last lap, having turned in a cracking performance on its championship debut.
"We were caught napping, but we certainly enjoyed it," reckoned Yandell.
The Porsche 911GT3 Cup of Tom Shrimpton/Liz Halliday clinched third in the Cup class, despite a lengthy battle with the Ferrari 360 of Hector Lester/Keith Robinson. In the first half of the race the Porsche of Patrick Pearce/Matt Griffin headed GT Cup, but a spin by Pearce at Graham Hill Bend ended against the tyre wall and put the car out of the race.