In the GT category TVR scored a great victory in the sixth round of the Privilege Insurance British GT Championship at Rockingham when Verdon-Roe and Caine stormed to victory. It was a result that put the TVR drivers onto the top step of the podium for the first time this season.
Despite a safety car period that negated their lead, the TVR duo out-paced the Chrysler Viper of Wilson/Harvey and the Lister Storm of Jordan/Warnock. After a last lap clash, the Viper grabbed second place.
''We could not believe it when the safety car came out,'' said Caine. The Cerbera Speed 12 was 15 seconds ahead when the safety car was scrambled after the Marcos Mantis of Charlotte Osbourn pulled off on the banked section of circuit. However, Verdon-Roe was not about to let victory slip away and stormed clear at the green flag as Harvey and Jordan went head to head over second place. ''We've got the pace now,'' said an elated Caine after their first win of the season. Adding to the poignancy of the safety car period was the fact that the cause of the caution was the Promotasport-entered Marcos, run by the team that took Caine to the TVR Tuscan title last season!
Having traded second position in the closing stages, the matter between the Viper and the Lister was settled at the first hairpin on the final lap. Jordan defended, but at the last moment Harvey dived for the inside line and there was contact. Harvey edged ahead as the Lister was left struggling with damaged steering. ''I couldn't have carried on,'' said Jordan, who cruised around the final half lap to take third. ''It wouldn't have gone round the banking like that,'' he added.
Into fourth in GT came the Lotus Esprit of Chris Ellis/Piers Johnson, after a steady run to moved up the order. Having missed the pre-race test session, they drove a measured race to bring the Mike Haines Racing car home fourth. Sadly, the Quaife R4GTS of Philip Hopkins/Mike Quaife failed to start after losing oil pressure on the parade lap and loss of fuel pressure sidelined the Ultima GTR of Colin Blower/Edd Sharpe.
In GTO, Burt/Franchitti won again in their Porsche 911GT3RS, but the safety car period left Franchitti with a major task to fend off the TVR Tuscan R of Short/Barff. When a driveshaft on the Tuscan failed with three minutes to go, the other Tuscan R of Steve Hyde/Richard Stanton clinched second from the Porsche of Turner/Horner.
Although they had a good lead when the safety car appeared, Franchitti had to watch that advantage disappear under the caution as Short came into contention. However, from the green, they had a gaggle of battling GTO cars just ahead of them, albeit a lap down. ''It was always gonna be tough, but the safety car gave them the opportunity,'' said Franchitti.
''I had to be pretty aggressive,'' said Franchitti, notably in getting ahead of Devlin in the Chrysler Viper. However, that car was to prove the downfall of Short, as it started to drop oil and water onto the track. ''Devlin cost us the race,'' said a frustrated Short. ''He was leaving oil all around the track and I slid off on the oil. The car ran onto the dirt and snapped a driveshaft,'' said Short after pulling off with three minutes left.
All of that drama left the Tuscan R of Hyde and Stanton to take second after a strong run, while Horner/Turner took third. Up to fourth in GTO went the Porsche of Rymer/Simmons, having snatched the place from the Sumpter/Balfe Porsche in the closing moments. The Sumpter car recovered superbly from an early puncture and would have been fourth if not blocked by the Devlin Viper.
1. Michael Caine/Bobby Verdon-Roe (TVR Cerbera Speed 12) 60m57.260s
2. Rob Wilson/Tim Harvey (Chrysler Viper GTS-R) 61m00.791s
3. David Warnock/Mike Jordan (Lister Storm) 61m05.822s
4. Piers Johnson/Chris Ellis (Lotus Esprit V8) + 1 lap
1. Kelvin Burt/Marino Franchitti (Porsche 911GT3RS) 61m50.584s
2. Richard Stanton/Steve Hyde (TVR Tuscan R) + 1 lap
3. Matt Turner/Ed Horner (Porsche 911GT3RS) + 1 lap
4. Adam Simmons/Terry Rymer (Porsche 911GT3R) + 1 lap
5. Mark Sumpter/Shaun Balfe (Porsche 911GT3RS) + 1 lap
6. David Jones/Godfrey Jones (Porsche 911GT3R) + 1 lap
Championship points after round six:
1. Warnock and Jordan, 79;
3. Harvey and Wilson, 76;
5. Verdon-Roe and Caine, 61; etc.
1. Burt and Franchitti, 80;
3. Sumpter and Balfe, 48;
5. Jones and Jones, 42; etc.
Next round: Castle Combe, 24 June.