30 May 2009
Ginetta wins Rockingham opener
A race of high drama and attrition at Rockingham brought a new race victor in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship in the shape of the Barwell Motorsport Ginetta G50Z driven by Joe Osborne and Olly Bryant.
With the car running in the Invitational Class, there were also new championship leaders in Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen, whose Rosso Verde Ferrari finished second overall, won the GT3 class and claimed a maximum points haul.
The Zytek-engined Ginetta was making only its second appearance in the championship, and was being driven by Osborne for the first time, but that did not stop Joe from planting it on the pole, nor from leading the race from the start and for the duration of his stint at the wheel.
"We always knew the start would be critical," he said. "My first three laps were real 'qualifying laps' to pull a good gap of about four or five seconds over Dan Brown's Mosler, and then I settled into a pace I could drive at consistently."
Seventeen-year-old Brown in the Rollcentre/Momo car did well to keep in touch with Osborne, and indeed to narrow his lead to under one second as the pit stops approached. However, he threw away any chance of victory with a spin at the hairpin just after inheriting the lead when Osborne pitted to hand over to Bryant. Bryant regained the track with a huge advantage over the new second-place car, the Beechdean Aston Martin of Andrew Howard and Jamie Smyth.
Second-stinter Smyth didn't hang on to second for long, passed firstly by the VRS Ferrari of Phil Burton/Adam Wilcox and then by the Rosso Verde 430, with Simonsen at the wheel and gunning for a blazing finish after solid work from the start from Lester.
With ten laps to go, Simonsen was only three seconds behind Wilcox and there ensued a mighty battle for the GT3 class lead, settled in the Dane's favour four laps from the flag when he blasted around the outside of his rival into the Deene hairpin and held station, now on the inside for the Yentwood right-hander.
"It was an extremely hard race because of the heat," said Simonsen, "but everyone was struggling with it, not just us. A few people dropped out, which helped our situation, and then I was able to pick off a few towards the end."
Up ahead, Bryant was being given pit signals to speed up lest he also fall into Simonsen's clutches.
"When the gap started coming down I had to up my pace a bit," said Olly, "but I had to be very careful not to slide off the track in the process. The car was good but we still need to do a lot of work to it to make it a bit kinder on its tyres."
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