Racing – British GT – Brands Hatch – October 3
- Part 2
see a disappointing end to a difficult season for Embassy Racing,
Richard Hay unceremoniously dumped into the barriers by an over-eager
Nathan Kinch, at a time when fourth place looked to be in the bag.
returned to its usual senses for Sunday, with plenty of rain throughout
the race, lots of wind too and a bit of a chill to the air. ‘Spray’
and ‘mist’ were new words to add to the Brands Indy
dictionary of problems, firmly alongside ‘traffic’.
All of those
are in a day’s work (literally) for Neil Cunningham though,
whose strong start saw him up to fifth from his favoured outside
line, taking fourth on the next lap with a big move down the inside
of Adam Jones at Paddock.
Ferraris had an early advantage, but this soon began to fade as
it became clear that the rain was here to stay, and it was the soaking
type of rain…
turned full circle on Mullen, who had a half-look at his team-mate
at Paddock, got off line and had to take avoiding action to stop
him committing the ultimate racing-driver sin. The car snapped round
and dumped him in the tyre wall and was beached in the gravel –
even Chris Niarchos wouldn’t be able to drive out of that
So with the
last podium spot inherited and no pit-stop penalty, things looked
good once again for Embassy, but for the stealthy Ultima being driven
to great effect by Steve Brady – was it simply so low in the
spray that Neil didn’t know it was there? Either way, this
duo were hunting down Tim Sugden’s Porsche, Brady eventually
hooking up the traction perfectly out of Graham Hill Bend and winning
the Chevy power drag race down the Cooper Straight.
Brady went on
to snatch a place from Sugden too, but Neil was only three seconds
off the lead, so it was most definitely still all to play for.
of the Safety Car, to allow recovery of a beached Monaro, was therefore
a bad thing as it allowed those behind Neil to catch up. A bad thing
became worse as yet another organisational disaster led to the second
place Ferrari being picked up, not the race-leading… Ultima!
Despite Brady’s best efforts (he practically stopped to allow
the Safety Car out in front of him) he was waved by. When will they
To make amends,
the whole field had to be waved through, extending the time the
race had to be run behind the Audi.
It did however
make it easier for Embassy to decide when to make the driver handover
and Neil took advantage of the reduced pace, Embassy making a place
up when Hay returned to the track behind Brady and Cocker, Kinch
delayed by his 25 second pro/semi-pro handicap.
Hay was initially
quicker than Bonner in the Ultima, but it was hard to be consistent
when it was so very, very wet and there was so very, very much traffic
Kinch was managing
better than most and maybe was so fired up by his series of hot
laps that he got carried away at Clearways, once the Corvette became
his target. Hay describes the last moments of Embassy’s 2004
GT campaign: “I had seen him gaining on me pretty fast and
I knew he would pass me by the end of the straight, but I thought
he’d let me get out of Clearways at least, I wasn’t
expecting him to have a go where he did. He tagged the rear and
sent me into a slide – I thought I’d hold it the first
time around and still be pointing the right way, but then it went
round again and into the barriers.”
The impact was
enough to put Embassy out on the spot, with only two-thirds of the
It has been
a trying first season for Embassy Racing, but one in which they
have created a huge impression on the championship and its fans.
Jonathan France did not kid himself into thinking it would be an
easy introduction, or that it would all come right immediately.
What he can take away from 2004 is that he has really built a very
effective team, one which has shown what they are capable of on
many occasions, against some mighty machinery and huge racing budgets.
He has also generated a healthy following of Embassy Racing fans,
who are doubtless very keen to find out what they have planned for
Keep it up and
better luck next year.