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Scuderia Ecosse hit back to win from pitlane
17 July 2006
Tim Mullen steered the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari across the line at Snetterton to take the chequered flag in one of the finest drives ever seen in the British GT Championship.
Mullen's teammate Chris Niarchos, starting from the pitlane after missing the pit open window, sliced his way through the British GT field up to secind before handing over the Ferrari to Mullen. The Irishman then caught and passed the Team LNT Panoz with Luke Hines at the wheel to take another victory in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
A win in GT3 for Aaron Scott and Stuart Turvey in the Ascari KZ1R on it's British GT debut, with Ryan Hooker and Andrea Demetriou heading a Trackspeed 1-2-3 in GTC.
A hot and sunny Snetterton circuit greeted the 27 car Avon Tyres British GT grid, with temperatures in the mid 80's and a lot more in the cockpits of the race cars. Drama began before the cars had even turned a wheel as the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari driven by Chris Niarchos missed the 'Pit Open' window and was forced to start the 60-minute race from the pitlane exit.
The rest of the grid followed the pace car for the rolling start as it peeled into the pits the lights flashed to green and battle commenced. The Panoz drivern by Tom Kimber-Smith was tracked by the Eclipse Mosler of Phil Keen, with the Rollcentre Mosler driven by Ian Flux in third.
As the cars went around the back of the circuit Phil Keen disappeared from the timing screens, rejoining at the back of the field as they came round for the end of the opening lap.
Behind the leaders the Aston Martin of Jonathan Cocker and the Lotus Exige of Gavan Kershaw were having a titanic battle, with Kershaw making his move on the inside at Riches. At the end of lap two Phil Keen brought his Mosler into the pits for a quick check, but rejoined after a 30 second stop.
Further back Chris Niarchos was having the drive of his life, slicing past the GTC runners in the more powerful Ferrari and by the end of lap four he was already up to ninth place. Niarchos continued his charge and ended lap 7 in fifth behind the Kershaw/Cocker GT3 battle.
The Team Tiger Marcos of Jon Finnemore made an unsheduled stop with a suspected puncture to the front left Avon, with the GTC championship leader regaining the track after a very quick stop.
The race then settled down for the next few laps, with Kimber-Smith pulling away from Ian Flux by 1 second a lap. However Flux soon found the red Ferrari in his rear view mirrors after Niarchos had dispatched the GT3 pair.
The pitstop window opened and after all of the cars made their mandatory stops for drivers changes the order became clearer. It was Luke Hines now piloting the Team LNT Panoz, 1.8 seconds ahead of Tim Mullen, now at the wheel of the Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari. The Ferrari caught and passed the Panoz on lap 30 and then started to pull out a healthy lead.
Further down the field Phil Keen was recovering from his earlier off and coming back up through the field. By lap 40 was fourth behind the Damax Ascari of Rob Barff and two laps later he moved ahead of the GT3 race car to move into the final podium position as the Ascari went slowly over the start finish line. The second Ascari of Aaron Scott then took control of the GT3 class with a move on Leo Machitsky's Aston.
The class GTC battle was between the three Trackspeed Porsche's, with the teams guest driver Andrea Demetriou leading the way, followed by Matt Allison and Matt Harris. At the flag it was Demetriou who took the class win, giving his co-driver Ryan Hooker his first win of the season so far.
At the front it was Tim Mullen who took the chequered flag to the delight of the Scuderia Ecosse team and his co-driver Chris Niarchos. Luke Hine brought the Team LNT Panoz home 25 seconds later, with Phil Keen, the only other car on the lead lap, in third after a remarkable recovering solo effort.
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