9 May 2004
Sugden, Crocker seal Mondello double.
Jonathan Cocker took the chequered flag to seal victory in round four of the British GT Championship at Mondello Park, clinching his and co-driver Tim Sugden's second win of the weekend.
Gavin Kershaw and Barrie Whight took their first victory in the Lotus Elise in the dailysportscar.com Cup class.
Poleman Andrew Kirkaldy led the early stages of the race from Sugden, but the GruppeM/Tech 9 Porsche was soon putting the Scuderia Ecosse car under pressure and, after looking for a way past for a handful of laps, Sugden was eventually into the lead.
Kirkaldy battled with a tyre problem thereafter, but managed to keep the Porsche in sight up to the driver-change, where he handed over to Nathan Kinch. However, the extra time handicap imposed on the Ferrari saw Cocker disappear into the distance. Kinch was also left standing in the pits for another twenty seconds after his radio failed and he missed the signal from the team to go.
With Cocker too far ahead to be troubled, the battle for second place was thrown wide open after Kinch was stranded in the pits. The timing screen showed Mike Jordan too far back to pick up a podium finish, almost 40 seconds behind the TVR T400R of Lawrence Tomlinson in third place. He was given some luck within a handful of laps though, as Chris Niarchos in the second Scuderia Ecosse Ferrari was handed a stop/go penalty. As the Ferrari left the pit-lane, Jordan was hammering down the start/finish straight and another lap was all that was needed before he was into third place.
Another lap later, and he was lining up the TVR and dived up the inside at the Honda Hairpin and into second. It was a superb drive to claim points after the non-finish in race one. However, the race was never going to go to anyone else other than Cocker and Sugden.
"It feels great,” smiled Cocker afterwards, “The car was so good throughout the whole of my stint, and I was putting in some really good times, so I am really pleased. It's been a great weekend for us.”
The dailysportscar.com Cup class went to Gavin Kershaw and Barrie Whight in their Lotus Elise. Pole-sitter Simon Pullan dominated the early stages of the race and, as the driver changes took place, the Rollcentre team looked to have timed it to perfection, sending Fanny Duchateau back out in the lead of the class. However, Kershaw put in a storming drive – netting himself the Sunoco Fuels driver of the day award – to pass the Noble M12 and pick up his first race win of the season.
“This feels just extraordinary,” the victor admitted, “I was getting really worried towards the end, as one of the front wheel bearings had started to break and I could hear it knocking. I was avoiding all the kerbs like the plague! After this weekend, I think we can win anywhere with this car.”
Pullan and Duchateau had to settle for second place in the Noble, while third place went to series newcomers Colin Broster and Paul Mace. The ABG Motorsport pair is only planning a broken season of events, but proved they could be ones to watch whenever they appear in the championship.
Results - British GT Championship – Mondello Park:
1. Sugden/Cocker Porsche 911 GT3-RSR 34 laps 1hr 00min 43.665secs
2. Jordan/Sumpter Porsche 911 GT3-RS 1hr 01min 42.211secs
3. Kinch/Kirkaldy Ferrari 360 Modena 1hr 01min 53.530secs
4. Tomlinson/Greensall TVR T400R 1hr 02min 01.4257secs
5. Niarchos/Mullen Ferrari 360 Modena 1hr 02min 14.542secs
6. Cook/Cunningham Corvette C5R 33 laps
1. Kershaw/Whight Lotus Elise 33 laps
2. Pullan/Duchateau Noble M12GTO3R 33 laps
3. Broster/Mace Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 33 laps
4. Wilcox/Amorim Ferrari 360 33 laps
5. Rowland/Sharpe Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 33 laps
6. Beighton/Fennimore Marcos Mantis 32 laps
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