Motorsport – Brands Hatch – R10 British GT Championship
We’d Have Settled For Third
What a season. There
was little hope part way into the 2003 season that the Eclipse Motorsport
TVR T400R would be able to challenge the pair of Moslers (from Rollcentre
Racing and Balfe Motorsport) for overall GTO honours. But a string
of consistency – and two excellent wins - kept the #69 car
well in contention and when the Moslers faltered Eclipse took full
advantage. Silverstone, where they won the historic British Empire
Trophy, and Oulton Park, brought them into the title battle in earnest.
Coming into the final
round at Brands Hatch, the team held the enviable record of being
the only one that had been classified in every round, the only non-finish
being in the final moments of the Castle Combe race.
With just five points
separating the top three teams, it was all to play for in the final
With the addition of
both DeWalt TVRs and an old stager in the form of the extremely
rapid GT class Point Preparation Porsche 911 GT2, qualifying was
less predictable than usual. Piers Johnson pushed hard to put the
#69 car (complete with a weighty 45kilos of success ballast) in
a position where Shane Lynch could strut his stuff on Sunday afternoon.
Fifth on the grid would do nicely.
Both drivers were remarkably
relaxed – but what did they have to lose? They were out to
enjoy this one. What was it Shane said? “We’re gonna
rev. it to the max.”
And so to the race.
Shane made his usual
lightning start, but emerged from the Paddock sort out in fifth
slot - behind the championship leading Balfe Motorsport but ahead
of the Rollcentre Racing version.
By lap 3, the situation
had changed dramatically. With waved yellows at Paddock Hill Bend
to protect the site of Rob Well’s trip into the tyre wall
in the Team Aero Morgan, the Balfe Mosler slowed, but Bob Berridge
in the #92 De Walt TVR didn’t. Whether it was a mechanical
failure or brain fade the effect was dramatic: Jamie Derbyshire’s
race was over in a matter of metres as the TVR clattered the Mosler
into the gravel. Berridge struggled round to pit and retire too.
It was a terribly sad way for the Balfe Motorsport team’s
campaign to end - but Eclipse were third and were now in a championship
for the race win was between the GT class Porsche and Rob Barff
in the #91 TVR
and Barff was tracking the big white 911 – but then suddenly
he wasn’t! The TVR had pulled off with a broken throttle
cable, the Porsche pulled clear and Shane was up to second overall,
Rollcentre Mosler back in fifth. If it stayed like this….but
does it ever stay static for long in the British GT Championship?
Shane was holding off
the challenge from fellow Irishman Peter Le Bas in the Xero Corvette
and Steve Hyde in the CDL TVR. The chase was closely and cleanly
fought for lap after lap until, at the 25 minute mark, as the pit
stop window approached, the trio barrelled over Sheene Curve’s
blind brow to find Alan Bonner’s ISL Marcos broadside across
There was a split second
to make a decision and Shane chose to go for the gap on the left,
to take the inside line for the turn beyond. It would have been
the correct decision had the Marcos not chosen that moment to roll
back into the TVR’s path: the impact with the side of the
TVR was enough to send the T400R spearing into the barriers. The
damage was horrendous - the front and rear of the car totally destroyed
- but mercifully the car’s rollcage did its job perfectly
and a shaken Shane was out immediately, his head shaking in disbelief,
Eclipse’s race and championship fight over.
Shane was distraught
of course, while poor Piers didn’t even get in the car. So
It was left to Tom Herridge
and Martin Short to steer the sole remaining title contender in
the race, the Rollcentre Racing Mosler, to the finish to complete
a run from third in the points table for Herridge (prior to the
Brands Hatch race) to the series championship at the chequered flag.
Congratulations to him
and to team boss Martin Short (and thanks for building the TVR’s
rollcage so well, Martin).
It may seem
a strange sentiment after such a disappointment at Brands, but everybody
at dailysportscar would like to congratulate everyone
at Eclipse, from Shane and Piers to John and Chris, Grant, Graham,
Steve, Andy, Mark and Mickey - and not forgetting of course fellow
Empire Trophy winner Ben McLoughlin and Spa supersub Simon Pullan.
2003 has been the season
that brought the team truly into contention: the car has been beautifully
prepared, stunningly reliable and consistently competitive. It has
brought them a new band of fans and even deeper respect amongst
their racing peers. The best thing about it though is that the guys
haven’t changed, not one little bit.
You don’t have
to be miserable to be winners, I know, I’ve been following
the team that runs the pretty orange TVR all season.
See you back out there
in 2004 boys.