ASHBURN EYES GT TITLE CHANCE
Avon Tyres British GT Championship leader David Ashburn stands a chance of clinching the title this weekend on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit, venue for the penultimate meeting of the season.
The London-based veteran and Glynn Geddie, his co-driver in the Trackspeed Porsche, will need to out-point Ashburn’s only realistic rivals for the crown, the MTECH Ferrari-driving duo Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron. Ashburn currently leads Cameron and Griffin by 20 points. Only one race remains on the schedule following Brands Hatch – next month’s double-points two-hour epic at Donington Park – so if David can extend his lead to 21 points by the close of play at Brands, his tally will be unbeatable.
Ashburn and Geddie have won three races together: both Rockingham events and the Silverstone endurance race. Those successes brought them a heavy penalty in terms of success ballast, and last month at Snetterton their power-sapped Porsche struggled to keep up. With 30kg shed since then, however, their 997 GT3R ought to be a much quicker prospect next weekend. “Snetterton was a waste of time for us,” says Geddie. “Hopefully with some weight out at Brands Hatch we can settle this thing with two race wins. That’s the plan, anyway.”
Cameron and Griffin have no intention of making it easy for the Porsche duo, however. The MTECH couple have enjoyed a season of highs and lows with their Ferrari 430 Scuderia, leading the championship for much of the year after opening their campaign with twin wins at Oulton Park in April. Second-place finishes at Knockhill and Rockingham were the closest they came to the podium’s top step until last month, at Snetterton, when they put in a storming drive to win the championship’s 10th round and keep alive their title ambitions.
“We are going to push 100 per cent,” says Matt Griffin. “We may have won one race at Snetterton but we should have gone better in the other one, and that would have left us only about 12 points behind. Now we have no choice but to try to win all the races left, which I think we can do, and see what happens. If Trackspeed make no mistakes they will win the championship; it’s theirs to lose. But we will fight to the death.”
The only other driver with a mathematical chance of the title is Hector Lester. It’s a slim prospect for the Rosso Verde man, as he trails Ashburn by 32 points, but that is not to rule out Hector and his ultra-rapid co-driver Allan Simonsen from the reckoning at Brands Hatch – they were the GT3 victors there last year and are hungry to claim their first win of the 2010 season having finished second on four occasions.
Reigning champions the Jones brothers, Godfrey and David, returned to the podium at Snetterton for the first time since their twin wins at Knockhill in May. In between times their Team Preci-Spark Ascari has been beset by all manner of mechanical maladies, hopefully now cured.
Dan Brown and Tom Ferrier teamed up successfully at Snetterton to claim a win and a second for Chad Racing; at Brands they will be back with their regular driving partners, respectively Chris Hyman and Paul Warren, and looking for further honours with their Ferraris. The other Ferrari in the field – and one which will be carrying no success ballast at all – is the Predator CCTV Scuderia of Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox.
Two Aston Martins are expected, both fielded by Barwell Motorsport: one in Beechdean colours for Andrew Howard and Russian racer Leo Machitski, who, alongside Phil Quaife in the Barwell-prepared Ginetta G50Z, was the final-round victor at Brands Hatch in 2009. The other DBRS9 will be in the hands of Cadena men Paul Whight and Michael Bentwood.The mighty Mosler of Rollcentre Racing’s Martin Short is expected in action also, Martin to be partnered on this occasion by Lotus Cup racer Steve Quick.
In the G4 class, Christian Dick and Jamie Stanley may also have an opportunity next weekend to secure the class championship for the Speedworks Motorsport team; the Ginetta G50 drivers are currently 11.5 points ahead in the race for the title.
The Piranha Motorsport Lotus pairing of Chris Bialan and Simon Mason are the most likely G4 title rivals for Dick and Stanley and their 2-Eleven has shown considerable pace on several occasions. They’ve yet to win the class, though, while Stanley and Dick have triumphed on four occasions.
Barwell Motorsport is to enter a car in the G4 division for the first time this season: a Ginetta G50 for championship debutants Julien Draper and Chris Dittmann. Former Caterham racer Draper and his co-driver are both experienced G50 Cup competitors. “They are both looking to move on in the careers to GTs and endurance racing,” said Barwell’s Chris Needell, “and the G4 class of British GT is an excellent starting point for them.”
It’s hoped that double Rockingham G4 class winners Athanasios Ladas and Michael Mallock will reunite for Brands Hatch at the wheel of the Chad Racing KTM X-Bow, while the Hetherington brothers, Freddie and Benji, will be out in the Century Motorsport Ginetta with which they scored twin class wins at Snetterton last month. Further class action will be provided by the Ginettas of Nathan Freke/Vibe Smed and the Team Osborne Racing Ginetta, which will be in the hands of championship newcomers Dean Hawkey and Jake Rattenbury.