BRITISH GT SPA REVIEW


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Peter Kox and Marc Hayek atop the Spa podium. Photo: Jakob Ebrey.

Avon Tyres British GT Championship debutant Marc Hayek and his vastly experienced co-driver Peter Kox claimed an emphatic fifth round win last Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, their Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo lapping the field to take the win. It was Swiss driver Hayek's solid first stint in the 150-minute endurance marathon which laid the groundwork for Dutchman Kox's finishing flourish.

The Lamborghini snatched the lead from the Trackspeed Porsche of Richard Westbrook and David Ashburn with 15 laps to run, Westbrook having led for much of the race distance before handing over to Ashburn for the final 50 minutes. The sister Porsche of Olivers Morley and Bryant claimed the final podium slot to make it a Trackspeed 2-3. Christian Dick and Jamie Stanley were once again the G4 class victors for Speedworks Motorsport.

There was drama even before the off when the Preci-Spark Ascari of reigning champions David and Godfrey Jones failed to make the start after suffering post-qualifying engine trouble, but most of the remainder of the field made it to the end of the race despite its gruelling nature.

Hayek led from the pole through Eau Rouge but relinquished the lead to the charging Westbrook before lap's end, the championship returnee quickly pulling a healthy lead until Matt Griffin's MTECH Ferrari, which started eighth, fought through to take control of the race on lap 11. Westbrook was content to sit on the Ferrari's tail, resuming the race lead on lap 20 when Griffin pitted to hand over to Duncan Cameron.

Westbrook led still, all the way through a protracted safety car period caused by the demise of a Belgian championship car, and on to his hand-over to Ashburn on the 36th lap. "I had no idea where the car was in the race," said David, "because the team don't tell me in case I panic!" In fact Ashburn inherited a 19-second lead from Westbrook.

But David's tenure lasted only a further three laps, as Kox, who had taken over from Hayek on the 18th lap and had made his second pit stop on lap 29, closed down the Porsche's lead and swept past to take top spot. From there it was a 15-lap canter to the chequered flag for the flying Dutchman.

Ashburn drove brilliantly to claim second, nearly two minutes clear of the other Trackspeed machine, which finished just ahead of the Barwell-Cadena Aston Martin of Paul Whight/Michael Bentwood. A podium result might have been on for them but for a late-race drive-through penalty incurred for an alleged yellow flag infringement.

The RPM Ford GT, driven by Philip Walker and Alex Mortimer, placed fifth, half a minute clear of the MTECH Ferrari, which was delayed by a stop to replace a debris-damaged front tyre late in the race. Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox overcame braking problems suffered in qualifying to bring their Predator Ferrari home seventh.

A persistent misfire hobbled the pace of the STP Ferrari of Dan Brown/Chris Hyman, which placed eighth, just ahead of the sister car of Jose Balbiani and Juan Garriz, which had a damper problem.

Dick and Stanley brought their Speedworks Ginetta home a laudable 10th overall and a clear G4 class victor after a relatively trouble-free run. "It might have looked straightforward," said Stanley, "but in reality it was anything but. The tyres were going towards the end, and then I got tagged by a Ferrari through Blanchimont, which was an interesting moment for me. But we came hoping for a reasonable result, so to win is great."

The ABG-prepared KTM X-Bow placed second in G4 in the hands of Rory Butcher and Benjamin Harvey. The Osman Yusuf/Joe Osborne Ginetta missed out on third in class because of fuelling issues.

Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen made it to the end despite their Rosso Verde Ferrari suffering a number of tyre-damage issues, but a broken gearbox put an end to the race of Tom Ferrier and Paul Warren. The GT3 Racing Viper was another unhappy non-finisher.

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