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Caine and Hay win GT two-parter at Castle Combe
22 June 2003
Works TVR drivers Michael Caine and Richard Hay won a chaotic sixth round of the 2003 British GT Championship at Castle Combe today [Sunday].
Unusually, the race was red-flagged mid-race after an accident befell Graeme Mundy's TVR, and the results were decided on aggregate times.
In the GT Cup class Patrick Pearce and Matt Griffin took the Gruppe M Tech 9 Porsche to another clear victory.
Despite the confusion Caine was pleased with victory on his return to the Championship. ''A win is a win,'' he said. ''The car was unbelievably good - all credit to the guys that have worked so hard on the car to get it ready after Le Mans.''
Caine, having taken over from Hay before the race stoppage led the second part of the event away but later conceded the on-track lead knowing that they had done enough on aggregate. ''We made it a precedent that if they started to push we'd let them through,'' Michael confirmed.
The grid made a fine sight as the Zonda pace car led the field to the rolling start and when the lights went green the best starts were made by the Shaun Balfe Mosler and the Shane Lynch Eclipse TVR. Balfe moved from third to second while Lynch vaulted two places to third.
Tom Herridge was the early leader in the Rollcentre Mosler from the Balfe Motorsport car, but the pair clashed on the ninth lap. ''I was driving defensively,'' claimed Herridge. ''He [Balfe] got a run on the outside into the chicane and hit the back of my car and went off.''
Shaun put a slightly different spin on the incident. ''I wasn't expecting him to jink left into a right-hander,'' he said. ''What really annoyed me though was the hand gestures of the Rollcentre team manager [Martin Short] when we got back to the pit lane,'' added Balfe. Herridge's car sustained a puncture while the Balfe machine was eliminated with broken suspension.
The race continued with Rob Barff leading in the other works TVR, but soon after Graeme Mundy - who had been going well in the Peninsula TVR - crashed heavily on the back of the circuit. The safety car came out first - signalling a rash of pit-stops and muddling the race order - and after some time the race was finally brought to a halt to recover the car, although Mundy was unhurt. The decision was taken to restart the race for twenty minutes with the results of that sprint being combined with those for the first 23 laps. The grid for the re-run was decided by the positions at the end of lap 23.
Short was on a real charge in the second part in the Mosler with Piers Johnson [Eclipse TVR] and the Eurotech Porsche of Mike Jordan following him closely. Johnson, however, suffered a problem and crashed at the Esses towards the end of the race, leaving Short to pass the chequered flag uncontested. However, on corrected times the Short/Herridge Mosler was third behind Caine/Hay and Stanton/Barff. The Glenn Eagling Marcos of Dan Eagling and Tom Shrimpton may have taken third but for gearbox problems which dropped the duo to fifth.
In the GT Cup category there was a straightforward win for Pearce and Griffin as regular rival Neil Cunningham [sharing this weekend with Paula Cook[ retired the Richard Thorne Morgan Aero 8.
''It was a bit of a messy race,'' said Griffin. ''When I went out for my run I didn't know exactly where we were so I just pushed as hard as I could and put in consistent times.''
Team-mates Nick Staveley and Steve Moore were second while father-and-son duo Marc and Patrick Charlton came home in third. ''We didn't expect this at all - we couldn't be more blown away!'' said a delighted Marc before pledging to return for a future race.
The next round in the championship is at Oulton Park [Cheshire] on 12/13 July 2003.
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