British GT Championship – Race 1 – Full Report (GT2
Eleven From Thirteen
Ian McKellar today. Licence problems, we understand. “They
sent me the wrong licence,” said a suitably aggrieved ‘Joons’.
“They sent me one that says I’m a National A: I’ve
never been a National A! I’ve enjoyed myself though –
and I’ll be back next year. I don’t know what I’ll
be driving, but I’ll be in a GT car.”
Paul Mace (his
Porsche severely tweaked yesterday) joined Tech 9 – with the
likeable James Murphy. The Irishman is supported by Goff Developments
and PI Systems – and really enjoyed his Saturday at Silverstone..
with a clutch problem, apparently managed to spin the #25 Porsche
as he left the pit apron before the race… but clutch bothers
wouldn’t be quite so awkward out on the track.
don’t win it (today), we’re definitely coming back next
year,” said the jovial Chris Niarchos –
on Embassy Radio, before the race.
He was hoping
for a faultless run, and perhaps that first (and only) victory of
the season, but it didn’t work out like that.
In front of
a small crowd, it was a remarkably routine race – except that
with a dry track, this time they didn’t all get through Copse
intact. In some ways it was rather like the start of Petit Le Mans,
except that the ‘middle man’ was the always positive
Phil Keen played
James Weaver’s ‘up the inside’ role, while Tim
Mullen was the man hung out to dry on the outside. Mullen finished
the first lap in 13th, while Phil Keen had his moment at Becketts,
and the Mosler finished lap 1 in 15th. Ben Collins had been ‘sniffing’
as early as Copse, and he finished the lap in second for Embassy,
Caine third for Eurotech – and fourth was Piers Masarati!
He’d been eight on the grid. Another to lose out was Anthony
Reid in the Nissan, and the turquoise 350Z didn’t really feature
for the next hour – and in particular the last 20 minutes.
The Jones brothers
were ninth on the grid, and Godfrey ended lap 1 in ninth, despite
all the misdemeanours up ahead – and Jones had several GT3
and Inv cars to battle through.
As far as the
race for the lead went, the writing was on the wall as early as
… lap 2, if not before. Kirkaldy led Collins by 3.7 seconds
after two tours, 5.6 after three, 7.2 after four, and so on. The
margin to the Porsches would have been well over 20 seconds when
#35 stopped, had they not pitted well before Kirkaldy’s stop
after 23 laps.
Cane had hung
onto Collins’ tail, at least until the pair was caught by
Mullen and Keen. These two were fourth and fifth by lap 5, at which
point the Ultima retired, with the V8 only running on a couple of
By lap 10 the
two pairs left trailing by Kirkaldy were about to become one quartet,
at which point Collins briefly escaped a little, as Caine defended.
But it was inevitable – as inevitable as the fact that the
#35 was going to win this one.
passed Mullen before he passed the Porsches – Caine on lap
13, Collins on lap 15.
In GT3 and the
Inv Class, Maserati led until lap 6, at which point Mullen came
charging through, the clutch-troubled Porsche slipping behind Stuart
Moseley in the #96 Motorbase Quaife 911 and Tim Harvey in RPM’s
was a fantastic battle at the start with Stuart and Piers,”
said old hand Harvey, “but I’m not
sure how we cocked up the pitstop.”
Moseley was enjoying himself too: “I knew it was
going to be an exciting race when Andrew Kirkaldy spun in front
of me on the warm up lap. I had a great start into Copse, then when
the Mosler went off at Becketts, I was second overall. Ben Collins
got me after that, but I had a great stint.”
ahead of all the GT3s until he pitted, he and Harvey having being
joined by Masarati again, once the Jones Porsche had clawed its
way through the GT3 leaders. There was a good battle going on behind
these three, Adam Wilcox in the JMH Ferrari leading Damien Faulkner
in the #23 Porsche.
Up ahead in
GT2, Phil Keen was the first to pit in the Eclipse Mosler, after
22 laps, Kirkaldy and Collins pitting a lap later, Mullen one after
that. That might have left Tim Harvey briefly leading overall, and
he was the last runner to stop – which he managed to do too
late (37 and a bit minutes). The car, now driven by Alex Mortimer,
was called in for a stop / go penalty, from the lead of GT3 / Inv
(hence Harvey’s comment above).
GT2 stops made
very little difference, except that Chris Niarchos took on new rubber
to get around the problems Tim Mullen had been suffering after his
spin. That dropped Niarchos into the clutches of David Jones, who
nipped past before the Ferrari was up to speed. Niarchos grabbed
the spot (fourth) back though. That should have been fifth, but
Steve Hyde had a spin under braking for Abbey, and backed into the
gravel. “The marshals were great, they didn’t give up
trying to get me out. I thought I’d better pit for a check
over, having gone in backwards. Especially after the weekend we
had, we didn’t want to risk another engine.”
had latched onto the tail of Neil Cunningham and came close to threatening
a pass a couple of times, the Aussie / Kiwi appreciative of the
fact that no contact was made – and Jordan drifted back a
little – before a late charge, which Cunningham repelled.
So Mullen and
Niarchos, needing just a point, did more than enough to take second
in the driver points, behind 11 time winners Kinch and Kirkaldy,
while Embassy beating Eurotech to third was enough for Jonathan
France’s team to seal second in the teams’, third in
the drivers’. Mike Jordan may have just driven
his last British GT race, one he ended in style with the car’s
best lap of the race on the 40th of 42 laps.
The team owner
was reluctant to announce plans for 2006.
So what happened
in the GT3 and Invitational classes? Rory Fordyce had emerged in
second place ‘overall’, leading the ‘proper’
GT3s, behind Mortimer, who then took his stop and go. Phil Quaife
moved past them both to take the class win, following on in the
same vein as Moseley, after his fine drive.
(this is Fred Moss, above) moved up from fifth ‘overall’
to third by the flag, in the repaired #20 Porsche, second in GT3,
with Sean Edwards taking third in #36, then Andy Britnell in #23,
Martin Rich and Fordyce following them home – for a Porsche
1-2-3-4-5-6-7. Marco Attard and Nick Adamas were first non-Ferrari
took the Driver of the Meeting award - and he's only 58.
Quaife: “It’s the first time I’ve won
this year and I really enjoyed myself, but I’ve got to thank
this guy next to me (Stuart Moseley).
And so ends…
a disappointing season? You can’t argue with the form of Nathan
Kinch and Andrew Kirkaldy, with eleven wins (and 13 poles) from
13 starts. But the one hour format has become… a little stale?
Porsches have dominated GT3, just as Ferrari has in GT2. Now it’s
over to Stephane Ratel / Jonathan Palmer to prove what they can
do: they couldn’t do anything together this year. What does
2006 hold in store? And who approached whom?
words to the Champions.
Nathan Kinch: "I'd like to thank the team
and of course Andrew who has been a great team-mate. He handed me
the car with a massive lead so all I had to do was bring it home
today. I'd also like to thank Dunlop who have done a fantastic job
for us this year."
Kirkaldy: "Yesterday's race went well for us and we
were delighted to get our tenth win. To then go and get our 11th
win today was fantastic. Nathan did all the hard work yesterday
but I was kept pretty busy today so fair's fair! The car was exceptional
today and has been all year; I couldn't have asked for a better
that the reference to Dunlop is there (from Nathan Kinch). Let’s
thank someone else while we’re at it. Belinda Edwards, you’ve
been a fantastic GT coordinator. Thank you. And goodnight.
to Graham Goodwin, Mark Howson, Paul Slinger, Steve Wood, David
Lord, Peter May, Mike Hoyer, Jason Gore - and everyone else who
has added something to our British GT coverage this year.