Crash.Net Brit GT News

Sugden snatches victory from Le Bas

19 June 2004

Tim Sugden picked up victory in round seven of the British GT Championship after former leader, Peter Le Bas, tripped over a backmarker in the closing stages of the hour-long race at Castle Combe.

The start of the race was thrown into chaos after the start-lights failed to trigger, causing many of the drivers, including pole position starter Mike Jordan, to maintain grid formation. A handful of drivers started as normal, and the Dailysportscar.com Cup Class Porsche of Phil Hindley charged into the lead on the opening lap. Only then did the rest of the field realise that the race had got underway and began to hunt down the Porsche.

Ricky Cole managed to get past first, and led before a recovering Jordan moved into the lead on lap four. In the confusion, Nathan Kinch spun the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari causing the safety car to be scrambled to deal with it.

At the re-start, Jordan stayed out to the end of the pit-window. However, team-mate Mark Sumpter was unable to get out ahead of the Xero Corvette, now in the hands of Peter Le Bas. Sugden was in second place and tried for several laps to close the gap to the yellow-and-black car but looked resigned to second place.

A battle between the Cup Class Porsche of Colin Broster and the Vauxhall VX220 of Dan Eagling was reaching fever pitch when Le Bas came across them at Camp Corner. Broster had a slide through the corner and Le Bas had to take to the grass on the inside of the circuit to avoid contact. The loss of speed allowed Sugden to dive past and onto the top step of the podium.

“I had some bad luck last weekend at Le Mans, so I thought I might be due some good luck here,” Sugden smiled later, “The Corvette was incredibly fast and Peter was laying rubber down out of some of the corners and I don't think I'd have caught him without that moment.”

The Cup Class victory went to the Lotus Sport Elise of Gavin Kershaw and Barrie Whight, which dominated the class throughout the race, picking up its second win of the season.

“The car is reliable and really quick now,” Kershaw reported, “I was chasing the N-GT Ferrari and, when I got in the tow, I was catching it. We can carry so much more speed through the corners than the heavy cars and it helps so much - especially here.”

“The car was really good and it is just so quick now,” Whight added, “I had no problems and it was really good fun for us.”

Second place went to the Team Tiger Marcos Mantis of Jon Finnemore and Chris Beighton, despite a ten-second stop-go penalty for overtaking other cars while the safety car was on track. The Morgan Aero 8 of Keith Ahlers and Aaron Scott also lost out on a possible podium result for the same reason.

Third place went to Dan Eagling and Colin Blower in the Vauxhall VX220. A brilliant drive by Eagling and reliability and speed from the Vauxhall reaped the team its first podium result in only its third race start.