GT Championship –Silverstone – Embassy Racing –
Racing put every effort into claiming runners-up spot in the Teams’
Championship and even that was only just enough – by less
than a second...
and Eurotech on equal points going into the final race for 2005,
Embassy had the advantage in terms of grid position, but their Porsche
was burdened with 60kg of success ballast compared with an unladen
These two teams
really made the GT2 race on Sunday, proving to be a high point in
an otherwise relatively processional affair. Ben Collins duelled
with Michael Caine throughout the opening stages of the first stint,
then a recovering Mullen and Keen interloped, before passing both
of them, and leaving the duo to scrap it out again. Mike Jordan
took over where Caine left off and really brought the fight back
to Neil Cunningham, lapping lap after lap right on his bumper, then
backing off and trying one last time, but not being able to overcome
Cunningham’s gritty resolve.
race started on a dry circuit, under a bright sky, with light clouds
pushed along by a moderate breeze. Conditions couldn’t have
been much more different to Saturday’s wet race, but once
again Embassy proved they could adapt to conditions and produce
a car that would be quick and competitive.
Neil and the
Embassy girls played their parts in making GT racing that bit more
interesting, for old and young alike.
From the off,
it looked as though things might go even better than anyone in the
team had dared hope for. Ben Collins describes the start: “It
was awesome, I actually led Kirkaldy, but not for long! That Mosler
has so much grunt, I just don’t know where it gets it from.
The Ferraris were off from the start but I stayed quite close to
them, but then the Mosler just tore up the inside of all of us.
So they were three abreast into the first corner and I knew that
wouldn’t work, Keen hit Kirkaldy and knocked him into Mullen
who went off, it was all a bit crazy, but I managed to ziz-zag through
it all and ended up on the outside of Kirkaldy, outdragging him
on the way to Becketts, then Keen went off all on his own. It was
like Christmas come early. I thought about trying to hold onto first,
but the job was to beat the Eurotech Porsche and it would have been
too much hard work trying to stay ahead of a car that was two seconds
a lap quicker than us.
I just pushed like hell to stay in touch and that was my race really.
We were a bit slower than Eurotech with our weight penalty but I
just mullered the traffic to open out a two and half second advantage,
which I handed to Neil and he did a brilliant job to hold onto it.”
The only time
Collins didn’t have the aggressive jutting chin of the Eurotech
Porsche within a second or so of his rear wing was when the recovering
Mullen and Keen swallowed first Caine then Ben himself, neither
Porsche man risking their title fight and just letting them go.
Caine was the
first driver to head for the pits and a driver handover, so his
team-mate Mike Jordan would have a little over half of the race
to try to get ahead, and stay ahead, of Embassy.
a slick stop, whereas Eclipse’s Steve Hyde and Scuderia Ecosse’s
Chris Niarchos somehow lost time and positions to both Porsches,
so it would be Kinch, Cunningham and Jordan in that order right
through to the flag. Kinch may have been out on his own up front,
but Neil Cunningham bore the brunt of enough pressure to last an
entire racing career. Within a lap of joining the fray, Cunningham’s
four second lead was reduced to two, then just one, and Jordan’s
relentless pace looked like it might prove irresistible and unravel
Embassy’s championship aspirations.
got his advantage when I got caught behind a slower car under yellow
flags, and that gave him a run on me, then it was neck and neck
the whole way to the flag.”
For the final
twenty minutes of the race, Neil Cunningham’s eyes must have
been out on stalks – watching every move that Jordan was scheming
behind him, whilst picking the quickest defensive driving line he
were a few times when he had a clear run on me, like at Bridge when
I had to dive in early to stop him having a look. I knew Mike would
be fair, he never touched me once, even when I was at 45 degrees
on the kerbs with no grip left, he could have just nudged me and
that would have been me off and the championship decided, but I
just knew that whichever of us got to the racing line first, would
And so it was
that Jordan, sometimes close enough to rub bumpers and never more
than a second away, could not quite get his nose his front. Cunningham
scythed through the traffic, picking out car after car, never lifting,
never slowing, never moving off the perfect line.
off just prior to one last push, the circuit commentator suggesting
he would settle for third, but no-one connected with Embassy was
convinced. This last push was to be a big one: despite pounding
some well worn tyres, he steered the car to its best lap of the
race so far - a 1:23.9 with just two laps to go. Cunningham responded
immediately, with Embassy’s quickest lap of the day at 1:24.569,
and although Jordan was faster, he was not quite fast enough.
across the line 23 seconds down on the leader and took second in
the Teams’ Championship. The Championship had therefore been
decided by just eight tenths of a second, after many hundreds of
miles of racing throughout the season. Embassy also netted third
in the Drivers’ Championship into the bargain.
hadn’t had the problems with the engine needing re-setting
in that first race, that might have been enough for second in the
Drivers’ Championship, but it’s still a great result
for a new team in their first year.”
watched his two ‘Galactico’ drivers at the press conference,
Jonathan France tried to regain his composure – the normally
unflappable Yorkshireman was literally trying to get his breath
back – had he inhaled any oxygen at all in that last tense
20 minutes of the race? It didn’t look like it.
a cat’s whisker sometimes, the difference between feeling
really happy and really unhappy but we made it. It’s been
bloody hard work, but it has all been worth it. Neil was brilliant,
the way he can just pull those tenths out when it counts. I think
we should have every round here next season!”
drive had also been immaculate, and his final comments were: “That
was the most satisfying dry race we’ve had all year, especially
as we had such a difficult run against Eurotech, so to come out
of that in second is just brilliant. The guys have done such a brilliant
job in their first season, Neil dug very deep today, almost all
of his laps were in the 24s and he did our fastest lap of the day,
he really couldn’t have done more.”
It is clear
from the results obtained this year that Embassy Racing now functions
as a top-class racing team, and that any early niggles that, realistically
speaking, had to have been expected, have now been resolved. This
puts Embassy in a highly enviable position and it is with great
interest that the motorsport world awaits Jonathan France’s
plans for the immediate future.
Here is that
enviable summary of results from the 2005 campaign:
Donington Park 8th (Electrical problems)
Magny-Cours DNS (Engine)
Knockhill 1st, 4th
Thruxton 5th, 13th (gear problems)
Castle Combe 3rd, 4th
Mondello Park 3rd, 3rd
Silverstone 3rd, 2nd
2nd in class
Spa 24 hours (First (of many?) 24 hour races for the team) 6th