Total Control Racing's Carl Breeze used all of his experience and race guile during the first round of the 2009 Michelin Ginetta G50 Cup at Brands Hatch to secure a popular win ahead of determined young hot-shoe Frank Wrathall.
Marking the category's maiden appearance as part of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship race package, the season-opening race was also the first ever competitive run for the G50 Cup drivers on the 1.2-mile Indy Circuit having only previously run at Brands Hatch on the full Grand Prix configuration.
Breeze, who has been a staple part of the BTCC package for a number of years in various series, made a scorching start from second on the grid to leap-frog pole-sitter Wrathall's Dynojet-entered car and from that point on he was never headed.
The victory was by no means easy, far from it, as Wrathall poured on the pressure throughout the 16-lap encounter. Breeze didn't offer the slightest opportunity though as he kept the door closed at every corner to keep Wrathall's persistent presence in check.
“We've been practising our starts and all of the hard work has paid dividends today”, said a delighted Breeze at the conclusion of round one, “I was able to control the race really after getting the lead at the start. Over the last couple of laps Frank put me under more pressure but I managed to keep him at bay. It's a great reward for the whole TCR team to win the first race of the season.”
During the morning qualifying session, Wrathall secured pole position by just over a tenth of a second from Breeze with a lap of 48.605 seconds with Jody Firth posting the third fastest lap and former UK Formula Ford Champion Nathan Freke fourth quickest.
At the start of the race, while Breeze made a lightning getaway to lead, Wrathall found himself challenged for second place by Freke into Paddock Hill Bend. Further behind though, Fulvio Mussi replicated Breeze's stunning getaway by scything his way though from seventh on the grid into a top four position by the end of lap one.
Setting fastest lap on the third tour, Wrathall piled on the pressure but Breeze responded on lap four to set a new circuit record for the Ginetta G50s with a time of 49.194 seconds. The gap between the top two remained steady at around seven 10ths of a second lap after lap while third placed Freke gradually started to be reeled-in by Mussi.
As the race neared its conclusion, Wrathall pushed as hard as possible to force a mistake from the leader and into lap 11 he was just 0.370 seconds behind Breeze. The situation remained the same over the final five laps but Breeze's experience told as he soaked up every last bit of pressure to seal an outstanding win.
The impressive Wrathall crossed the line just four 10ths of a second shy of the winner with Freke holding Mussi off by six 10ths of a second to claim the final podium placing. Swedish racer Hampus Rydman, meanwhile, took an excellent fifth place result ahead of Tom Sharp with Firth ending up in seventh place.
In the 'Chairman's Cup', a championship within a championship for seasoned, gentleman racers, ex-touring car racer Mark Proctor took the honours with a ninth place finish overall, three places ahead of multiple former World and British National Hot Rod Champion Colin White. The result was a pleasing one for Proctor as his qualifying pace was compromised by a puncture earlier in the day.