The Saleen S7R of Ian McKellar/Thomas Erdos won the opening round of the BRDC British GT Championship at Brands Hatch today, Monday.
Erdos started the car and not even a challenge from the Lister Storm of Mike Jordan/David Warnock and the intervention of the safety car could stop them.
''I'm really chuffed,'' said McKellar. ''The car was good, tyres were good – we had no problems at all. A great way to start the year.'' Co-driver Thomas Erdos said: ''We have worked really hard for this and it's great to win a race again. It has been a long time since I was on the top step of the podium. It feels good.''
GTO was won by Martin Short/Simon Pullan (TVR Tuscan R) after a thrilling battle with the Porsche 911 GT3-R of Steve O'Rourke/Tim Sugden.
The race started with Erdos blasting into the lead from the Stealth of Nigel Greensall/Terry Pudwell and the TVR Cerbera Speed 12 of Rob Barff/Michael Caine. Warnock fell back to fourth place but soon caught up with the Barff/Greensall battle as a mechanical problem slowed the Stealth.
Warnock soon passed Barff for second and pitted early to hand over to Mike Jordan who then set about catching Erdos. However, his task was eased by the safety car being brought into play to help retrieve a number of crippled cars on the track. Erdos pitted and handed over to McKellar but Mike Jordan was charging and was nose-to-tail with McKellar as the green flag flew once more.
However, the expected fight never quite materialised as Jordan clipped the Marco Attard/Neil Woodford Ferrari which damaged the tracking of the Lister Storm and he started to drop away from McKellar. With just minutes of the hour-long race remaining a driveshaft let go causing a rare retirement for the Lister Storm. Second place in class was inherited by the Marcos LM 600 of Ian Mitchell/Robin Webster making their GT debut. It also offered Webster a chance to be on the podium for the first time since he started racing in 1977.
GTO offered a thrilling battle on the last lap between Martin Short and Tim Sugden that was resolved on the run to the line. The Porsche of brothers David and Godfrey Jones had led early on but was overhauled by a charging Ferrari of Calum Lockie/Jamie Davies and the TVR Tuscan R of Martin Short/Simon Pullan.
As Pullan learned more about the car and Lockie struggled for rear-end grip, Simon grabbed the lead of the class and handed Short an eight-second lead. However, after the safety car Sugden was charging after co-driver Steve O'Rourke had spun their Porsche early on. As expected, Sugden was a star and caught right up with Short, applying huge pressure over the last few laps.
Short held on to win, despite being delayed by traffic on the last lap. ''I had to be defensive in all the slow corners,'' he said. ''Tim was right with me at the end but it was a great race.''
Round two of the BRDC British GT Championship takes place at Donington on April 13/14.
1 Thomas Erdos/Ian McKellar
Saleen S7R 1hr 00m52.183s for 40 laps
2 Martin Short/Simon Pullan
TVR Tuscan R 39 laps
3 Tim Sugden/Steve O'Rourke
Porsche 911 GT3-R 39 laps
4 Calum Lockie/Jamie Davies
Ferrari 360NGT 39 laps
5 David Jones/Godfrey Jones
Porsche 911 GT3-R 39 laps
6 Ian Mitchell/Robin Webster
Marcos LM600 39 laps