First win for Murrells in inaugural pitstop race as championship tightens upPosted: September 20, 2011
Mandatory pit stops were introduced for the first time in the latest round of the Ginetta GT Supercup, and it was George Murrells who judged it perfectly to win his first race, while the championship challengers had varying weekends.
The usual three-race layout was scrapped for a new format consisting of a normal opening sprint race, this time followed by a half-hour race requiring drivers to pit for a specific period of time for new tyres at some point during the race.
Carl Breeze rekindled his form by leading the way in qualifying, beating the impressive Murrells who lined up in his best ever grid slot of the season alongside the Total Control Racing drvier on the front row for the opening race.
When the race got underway the pair were then stunned by a superb start from third place starter Nathan Freke that rocketted him into an early lead ahead of Breeze, while Murrells was slow away and slipped to fifth behind Adam Morgan and championship leader Tom Sharp.
Breeze followed Freke in the early laps before getting a great run out of the final chicane and slipstreaming past into the lead at the first corner, while behind, Freddie Hetherington moved into fifth ahead ahead of Murrells at Deene, the pair being pursued by G50 leader Andrew Richardson.
From then on the G55 runners all spread out as Breeze cruised to victory and closed the points gap to three points at the top of the championship. Freke took and astonishing 11th podium in 12 races ahead of Morgan who completed the podium, while Sharp was fourth ahead of Hetherington, Murrells and Colin White.
This made the G50 class centre stage where Richardson had been comfortable out front early ahead of Tom Ingram, however as Richardson’s pace soon began to flounder the opposition came right back onto his tail.
G55 runner White – who had been holding Ingram back – made his way by Richardson and that left the leader fending off the G50 points leader Ingram grimly for lap after lap despite no longer having the pace to match his rival.
It went down to the last lap where Ingram finally made his move at the hairpin to take the class win, while Richardson found himself having to hang on to second for the rest of the lap, succeeding in the end to hold off Jake Hill and Jody Fannin, while his younger sister Louise Richardson ended in the wall early in the race after a tap from Hill.
For the first time requiring a mandatory pitstop, race two started in dramatic fashion as polesitter Breeze was again slow away and gave up the lead to Freke, before being sandwiched by Sharp and Morgan, the trio rubbing exiting the banking after which Sharp came out of Deene hairpin in second place.
Breeze and Morgan cost themselves dearly in the first lap, as their contact allowed White to sneak up into third, and Hetherington to follow into fourth ahead of Morgan and then polesitter Breeze.
Sharp then began to pressure the race leader Freke, and on lap two he made a great cutback move coming out of turn three to outbrake the Century Motorsport driver on the inside at turn four. White meanwhile was in the thick of the action and aggressively tried his best to hang onto third position but lost out to Hetherington, Morgan and Murrells in a sometimes brutal contest early on in the race.
The first stops came on lap six with Ciceley Racing’s Morgan rejoining after a fairly undramatic pitstop, while directly behind him TCR’s Breeze had a nightmare when a problem with his jack cost him valuable time, dropping him over a lap down to his rivals and out of solid points contention.
Leader Sharp pitted next, but also sufferred a bizarrely long pitstop which meant he emerged from the pits behind Morgan, White, and almost the entire G50 class train. Freke therefore assumed the lead again being caught by Hetherington and Murrells, and after his stop Reigning Ginetta Challenge champion Murrells emerged ahead of Morgan.
Hetherington came in a lap later and blended in behind the pair, and two laps later the fresher tyres on his rivals had been enough to hand Murrells the lead, as Freke just emerged ahead of Hetherington as he exited the pits.
Murrells then did not put a foot wrong in the closing laps and claimed a superb maiden win ahead of Morgan and Freke, while Hetherington marked his return to the series with fourth place after a solid showing.
Ingram finished a sensational fifth overall to claim G50 honours and extend his points lead, after pulling away from Andrew Richardson who was minus his front end for the race after the squeeze into Deene on lap one.
Race two disasters for both Sharp and Breeze mean that as the drivers head to Brands Hatch in the first week of October, the top three are seperated by just nine points.
Ginetta GT supercup G55 standings after round eight:
1: Tom Sharp 553
2: Carl Breeze, 548
3: Adam Morgan, 544
4: Nathan Freke, 518
5: George Murrells, 369
Ginetta G50 standings after round eight:
1: Tom Ingram, 571
2: Jody Fannin, 532
3: Aaron Williamson, 475
4: Jake Hill, 457
5: Andrew Richardson, 320