Racing – 2005 British GT Championship - Silverstone GP
So Near And Yet So Far - Three Years Summed Up In Two Hours
weekend’s two hour race on Silverstone’s Grand Prix
circuit was the last GT racing hurrah (for now at least) for dsc
favourites Wood-Scott Racing. After three seasons in the British
GT Championship Stuart Scott and Steve Wood have chosen to leave
the GT3 class and look elsewhere for their racing.
2003 saw the pair introduce their controversial, but popular, turbocharged
VW Golf Gti: the 300bhp machine was seemingly at odds with the exotica
on display, but attracted interest and no little affection amongst
Last Sunday’s race saw the VW’s replacement, a Porsche
911 GT3 Cup, prepared by Mike Jordan’s Team Eurotech, run
in Stuart and Steve’s hands for the last time - its 2005 blue
and gold livery from the bulk of the season) replaced by white and
gold for its last public appearance. Both liveries were lovingly
applied by Steve’s ART outfit, the same company that applied
the beautifully executed Audi UK / Veloqx purple and silver livery
to the pair of 2004-season R8s.
Sunday’s race was a mixture of incident, excitement and disappointment
– as good a reflection of the boys’ British GT career
as could have been squeezed into two hours of track action.
Stuart took the opening stint, but just before the prior to the
start time of one o’clock, a brief shower blew across the
circuit. Race Control deemed the race to be starting “under
adverse conditions.” With the Pace Car instantly becoming
the Safety Car and the clock started as soon as wheels began to
move. Thus, the first two race laps took seven minutes, before the
Safety Car peeled off and the green flag flew.
It would not last long though, several incidents needing the attention
of the marshals – one of them involving Stuart. “I got
hit on Lap 1 and lost a lot of ground,” he said afterwards.
“I knew though that I needed to hang onto the train or we’d
be left with a rather pointless (in both meanings of the word) race.”
did just that, aided in no small part by the immediate reappearance
of the safety car, and hung on to the pack in difficult conditions,
intermittent rain having started falling again. Up front there was
a game of fast paced automotive chess, as the pendulum swung one
way and then back, as the slick and intermediate shod cars found
the conditions coming their way in turn.
The rain soon began falling quite heavily, but with clearing skies
away in the distance, there were some tough tyre choices to be made
at the approaching stops.
chose to leave Steve Wood on slicks as he took over in #99, with
other front runners choosing wets or inters. Allan Simonsen was
another to stay on the treadless Dunlops in the UCB Ferrari.
a brief respite, the rain was soon falling hard again and within
two laps was at its most intense. It seemed that those cars that
had opted for wets would gain the upper hand. Steve though had been
making great progress on slicks in the #99 Eurotech/Cambridge Business
Travel Porsche. With less than an hour remaining, he was up to fifth
and gaining on Jon Finnemore’s Mantis, a car which has been
in the hunt for GT3 race wins throughout the season. The gap came
down with every lap as Wood’s car responded to the conditions
better than Finnemore’s. With 42 minutes remaining, Steve
Wood took the place and now had a podium finish in sight.
Further back, Simonsen had made his way up to sixth place (from
a full lap down) and was catching the Mantis too.
the race approached its final quarter, it was shaping up to be a
classic. The conditions seemed to change by the minute: tyre choice
would have a key role in the final result here.
At the front it was a two-way Porsche battle – Piers Masarati
attacking Chris Stockton with Aaron Scott’s Damax Ferrari
holding third spot.
Whilst the 911 battle saw the lead change (Masarati taking it) as
wets gained an advantage, there was much more to come on the drama
front: the rapidly growing gap stalled as the rain stopped with
18 minutes remaining and then suddenly the Dunlop boot was on the
other foot, the slick-shod Motorbase car reeled in the Tech 9 machine
and with nine minutes to go retook the lead.
But if the fight for the lead was dramatic, it had nothing on the
tussle for the remaining podium position.
Steve Wood was having a storming afternoon and was another to find
his slicks coming into their own in the final fifteen minutes. Aaron
Scott was ahead in the wets-shod Damax, but the Eurotech driver
was now much faster. As the Ferrari struggled, Wood pressed home
his attack, and was through into third at the start of the penultimate
Unfortunately for him, he now had Simonsen behind him (below, the
Ferrari with a hint of green visible on the bonnet) and the Dane
was just extraordinary.
a lap down, he had fought his way back in inspired style. His speed
was astonishing towards the end – at one point (and on a drying
track), he was the fastest man in the entire BGT field (GT2 cars
included), by a good two seconds – and was just one second
behind Wood with two laps to go. Steve watched his podium place
hopes disappear before the lap was over (or did he?).
Simonsen started the last lap 13 seconds behind the Tech 9 Porsche,
with Steve right behind. Surely not even the Dane could make that
up over the course of one lap? Masarati’s wets though were
now completely gone and by the time the cars entered Priory, Simonsen
had caught up and was all over the Porsche. It still seemed as though
Masarati would hang on to second; but Simonsen saw a gap as the
cars came through Woodcote - and he lunged.
The cars were absolutely side-by-side as they roared past
the flag - and all eyes turned to the timing screens .They took
a couple of seconds to update – in the drama of the moment,
it seemed to take an age – and then the result was revealed……..Simonsen
by one thousandth of a second!
All those watching knew that they had seen something special and
the man himself was aware of the magnitude of his achievement that
day; “That was one of my best drives ever,” was the
only ever so slightly, overshadowed by this piece of magic was Steve
Wood’s gallant effort. His last lap was 2:02.511, while Simonsen’s
was 2:02.503, and he missed a podium by just four tenths of a second.
Steve was looking for an opportunity to get by Masarati too, but
the finish line came just a tick or two too soon.
and Scott had left their best until last and departed the BGT with
Scott: “I knew that when the rain came Steve would
make up places; he absolutely loves racing in the wet.
thought we’d get the podium, but Simonsen was just too fast
at the end.
”It’s a sad day of course.
had some great times in the Championship, but the ironic thing is
that our very first race at Knockhill ended in almost the same way
- we lost third place a couple of laps from the end.”
Wood: “Frustrating of course but that was a GREAT
race. To finish on the podium would have been just perfect today
but to be part of that final few minutes will live with me forever.
With the Porsche now up for sale, the Golf being overhauled and
Stuart looking wistfully at Ford Galaxies (that’s the 1960s
7 litre muscle car and not the 1990s 7 seater MPV!) with a view
to some classic saloon outings, it’s the end of an era for
Wood-Scott Racing – but the funny thing is though, you can’t
help feeling that they’ll be back. Let’s hope so.