13 July 2003
Second win for Eclipse at Oulton.
The Eclipse Motorsport pairing of Shane Lynch and Piers Johnson took a stirring victory in round seven of the British GT Championship at Oulton Park, running a strong race in its own right but taking advantage when the Balfe Motorsport Mosler coasted into retirement just beyond half-distance.
“I could see the Mosler in the distance,” said Johnson, who was in the TVR T400R at the time, “Then the gap was coming down and, all of a sudden, I passed him going into the first corner.”
That left Johnson with an unchallenged run to the flag.
“It's not easy in that situation, and things were going very slowly towards the end,” he added.
The Eclipse win was set up by a strong opening stint from Lynch, but the Irishman too didn't find it all straightforward.
“For the first four or five laps, I was struggling to stay with the Ultima because it's got so much power,” said the former Boyzone member, “Then he dropped off a bit and was holding me up - I eventually got second place going late on the brakes into the first corner.”
Shaun Balfe had started strongly, amassing a huge lead over the second-place duo that stood the Mosler in good stead for the second half of the race. After the team's fastest ever driver change – just nine seconds – Jamie Derbyshire took over, but was soon struck by gear selection difficulties. Johnson reeled him in before the Balfe Motorsport car cruised to a halt at the end of lap 25.
The Ultima ran a strong second in the first half of the race with Steve Brady at the helm but, even before Aaron Scott took over, the team realised there was a problem with the car. Scott managed only a few laps before finally giving in with a broken wheel nut.
The exceptional heat that 'graced' the weekend didn't suit any of the cars, but Martin Short and Tom Herridge took second place after misfortune befell the other Mosler and the Ultima.
“I feel like my internal organs are boiling over,” exclaimed Herridge after stepping out of the Rollcentre Mosler.
Peter Cook and Frank Pelle also capitalised on others' misfortune, and completed the podium in the GT-spec Porsche 996 Turbo. The result was all the more gratifying as, on Saturday, there had been a question mark over the car's participation due to severe handling problems.
In the GT Cup class, it was yet another win for the Patrick Pearce/Matt Griffin combo in the Gruppe M Porsche GT3. Pearce drove a solid first stint on an oily track after deciding against battling with the GTO-class cars but, when Griffin took over, the car rose up the order.
“We could have had third overall, but we were being held up by the Glenvarigill Ferrari, which was a lap down,” reckoned the ex-Formula Renault driver.
Nevertheless, fourth overall was a tremendous result, as was fifth overall for the Richard Thorne Morgan Aero 8. Regular driver Neil Cunningham praised new team-mate Adam Sharpe for his efforts in the British-built sportscar.
“He's very good, but a bit tall!” quipped the Kiwi.
Hector Lester and Ivor Mairs completed the podium in the Glenvarigill Ferrari.
As a consequence of the Balfe Mosler's non-finish, Herridge stretches his lead at the top of the championship race, with the Eclipse pairing vaulting up to second place. In GT Cup, however, there seems to be no stopping Griffin and Pearce as the cars head to Rockingham in three weeks' time.
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