Tim Sugden and Jonathan Cocker took victory in round three of the British GT Championship at Mondello Park this afternoon (8 May), making it three different winners in as many races at the start of the 2004 season.
And, proving that a Porsche was the car to beat around the twisty Irish venue, Jonathan Rowland and Adam Sharpe took victory in the dailysportscar.com
Polesitter Mike Jordan got a great start and led the field early on, before a safety car period meant that his hard work came undone. A gearbox problem just after the re-start failed to lighten the JWR team boss' mood, and meant his race was over.
Jordan's misfortune gave youngster Cocker the lead, and the sometime Porsche Carrera Cup racer handed the advantage over to Sugden during the mandatory driver changes. However, what amounted to a huge lead for the former champion evaporated in the same way as Jordan's had early in the race, when the safety car was scrambled a second time for the damaged Eclipse TVR of Steve Hyde and Ferrari of Lourenco de Veiga to be moved to safety.
Confusion over who was leading then meant that the field was given the green flag while the safety car was still out on track, with the scorers reckoning that the second JWR Porsche of David and Godfrey Jones now led.
As the race got back underway, the silver-and-black machine held a 39-second lead over Sugden's similar Porsche, but a brilliant charge by the GruppeM Tech 9 man ensued, and he was able to pass the less experienced Jones with just two laps left to run.
“I didn't think I would be able to go as fast as that as the car was sliding around a lot,” Sugden admitted, “but I just had to keep pushing right to the end. I seemed to catch the traffic in easier places than Godfrey did, which helped too. The team have done a brilliant job today.”
The two Scuderia Ecosse Ferraris of Tim Mullen/Chris Niarchos and Nathan Kinch/Andrew Kirkaldy filled places three and four, with the RSR Racing TVR of Lawrence Tomlinson and Nigel Greensall rounding out the top five.
Cup class went once again to Jonathan Rowland, this time with new team-mate Adam Sharpe co-driving instead of team boss Phil Hindley. Sharpe brought the car across the line after inheriting the lead when Barrie Whight spun his Lotus Elise at the head of the field.