A wet start followed by a drying track made for an enthralling fifth round of the Privilege Insurance British GT Championship at Croft Monday afternoon (May 28).

Despite starting the race from the pit road, the Lister Storm of Mike Jordan/David Warnock swept ahead of the TVR Cerbera of Bobby Verdon-Roe/Michael Caine for a superb victory in ever-changing conditions.

In the GTO category, the Porsche 911GT3RS of Kelvin Burt/Marino Franchitti again took the spoils, but was seriously challenged through the opening stint by the Porsche of Tim Sugden/Paul Knapfield.

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In a thrilling second qualifying session, the Chrysler Viper of Tim Harvey/Rob Wilson snatched pole position for the fifth round of the Privilege Insurance British GT Championship. With only three minutes of the session remaining, Harvey stole pole position away from the Lister Storm of Mike Jordan/David Warnock.

Having fitted a fresh engine prior to the Croft weekend, the Hayles Racing team had cause to celebrate its fifth pole position in a row after a mighty charge from Harvey. ''I thought we'd got that,'' said Jordan.

Third remained the province of the TVR Cerbera Speed 12 of Bobby Verdon-Roe/Michael Caine, while fourth in GT was a strong performance from the rebuilt Quaife R4GTS of Philip Hopkins/Mike Quaife.

The situation in GTO was equally exciting as the TVR Tuscan R of Steve Hyde/Richard Stanton blasted to pole at the expense of the Porsche 911GT3RS of Kelvin Burt/Marino Franchitti, which had set the pace in the first session.

Although Franchitti went faster in the opening minutes of the session, the Tuscan R kept improving and Hyde grabbed pole in the latter stages of the session. ''That's two poles in one day,'' said an elated Stanton, who had earlier taken pole position for the TVR Tuscan race.

Third and fourth stayed unchanged in the form of the Chrysler Viper of Ben Devlin/Curtis Hayles and the Porsche 911GT3RS of Matt Turner/Ed Horner. Any hopes of an improvement by the Viper were dashed by power steering failure. Starting from the back of the grid would be the superbly presented TVR Tuscan R of Martin Short/Rob Barff after hitting oil pump problems early in the first session.

Race: 60 minutes (39 laps):

The rain arrived at just the wrong moment for the GT teams and everyone had to make a hectic tyre change, some of them on the grid. However, the Lister dived into the pits as the team wanted to make significant suspension changes and missed the slot to get back onto the grid. Instead, Warnock would start dead last from the pit lane.

That left the way clear for Verdon-Roe to blast into a huge lead in the opening laps. Wilson tried to hang on but ran wide at Clervaux on the first lap and knew he could not chase the TVR. In a lap the gap was five seconds and after 10 laps it was half a minute as BVR flew.

Meanwhile, Warnock was making rapid progress and got to within seven seconds of Wilson before heading to the pits for the driver change. The Lister team went for slicks, as a dry line emerged, and sent Jordan out with a lot to do. ''It was a bit of a gamble,'' admitted Warnock.

However, Jordan's task was eased a little by dramas for the TVR and Viper. BVR slid wide on his in lap and picked up some grass, prompting a slow stop while the car was checked over and slicks fitted. ''I was sliding all over the place at the end,'' said Verdon-Roe.

Meanwhile the Viper would stop twice. The team checked with Wilson about tyre choice and was advised to stay with wets. However, Harvey went out still on wets and was back within a lap for slicks, having realised within two corners that it was now dry enough for slicks.

Thanks to the slower stop by the leading Speed 12, Jordan picked up the TVR as it rejoined and dived ahead of Caine before his old Tuscan rival could get into the groove. His lead grew, but then came a safety car period which put the big three nose to tail. ''Mike's in the lead, but he's got his work cut out,'' said Warnock. However, the now ailing Viper would not be able to go with them and so it was a straight race between Jordan and Caine. The gap went out to around two seconds, but fluctuated in traffic. However, it was Jordan and Warnock's race after a great performance.

Harvey coaxed the Viper home third despite a long brake pedal and a poorly engine, while fourth was just reward for Quaife/Hopkins after a sensible performance. After a promising run, an engine problem forced the Ultima to retire mid-race.

In the GTO category what could have been a tough race for Burt and Franchitti actually turned into another convincing victory for the Parr Motorsport Porsche. However, in the wet first half of the race Tim Sugden really gave Burt a race.

The wet race suited the Porsches well and the contest between Burt and Sugden took them right onto the tail of Wilson's GT category Viper. It was crowd-pleasing stuff from two aces and it was a pity when the pit stops broke it up.

With Franchitti keeping up the lead, Sugden's partner Paul Knapfield went out soon after the pit stops in a clash with the Marcos Mantis of Alex Pilgrim in the complex. The incident also led to the safety car as marshals moved the damaged cars.

That ensured a one-two for Parr Motorsport as Turner/Horner slotted into second, despite considerable pressure from the Mark Sumpter/Shaun Balfe Porsche. ''The safety car didn't help us at all,'' said Horner. ''Then I was just trying to put cars between me and Mark.''

That was how the podium finished, with the Hyde/Stanton Tuscan out with transmission problems and unable to re-create its qualifying form.

Devlin/Hayles bagged fourth for the Viper, despite opting to only go to intermediate tyres at the pit stop rather than slicks like everyone else. Meanwhile Barff/Short forged their new Tuscan R from the back to take sixth behind the Porsche of David and Godfrey Jones.


GT category:

1. Mike Jordan/David Warnock (Lister Storm) 60m14.420s
2. Bobby Verdon-Roe/Michael Caine (TVR Cerbera Speed 12) 60m15.882s
3. Tim Harvey/Rob Wilson (Chrysler Viper GTS-R) 60m44.975s
4. Philip Hopkins/Mike Quaife (Quaife R4GTS) 36 laps

GTO category:

1. Marino Franchitti/Kelvin Burt (Porsche 911GT3RS) 60m58.014s
2. Matt Turner/Ed Horner (Porsche 911GT3RS) 61m13.788s
3. Mark Sumpter/Shaun Balfe (Porsche 911GT3RS) 61m16.030s
4. Ben Devlin/Curtis Hayles (Chrysler Viper GTS) 38 laps
5. David Jones/Godfrey Jones (Porsche 911GT3R) 37 laps
6. Rob Barff/Martin Short (TVR Tuscan R) 37 laps

Championship points after round five:

GT category:

1. Warnock and Jordan, 69; 3. Harvey and Wilson, 64; 5. Verdon-Roe and Caine, 46; etc.

GTO category:

1. Burt and Franchitti, 65; 3. Sumpter and Balfe, 42; 5. Jones and Jones, 37; etc.

Next round: Rockingham, 10 June.