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Trackspeed Porsches victorious in dramatic opening British GT encounter

Sunday, September 26 2010

David Ashburn is closing in on title glory in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship after Trackspeed Porsche scored a convincing 1-2 finish following an incident-packed opening race at Brands Hatch today (Sunday).

There was drama even before the race began, as the pole-sitting Ascari of David Jones and the Trackspeed Porsches of Ashburn and Philip Walker started from the pit lane.

This gifted pole position to the Aston Marton DBRS9 of Andrew Howard, who maintained his advantage off the start line as Duncan Cameron's Mtech Ferrari - the main championship rival to Ashburn - held second. The Ferrari 430 of Hector Lester made up a position to assume third, ahead of the Ferraris of Chris Hyman and Phil Burton.

The race was quickly interrupted by a safety car period however, when Hyman tagged Lester into a spin whilst making an ambitious move for third at Clearways. Both drivers were pitched into the gravel trap and out of the race, with Lester hitting the tyre wall.

At the restart, Howard's Aston held position and remained in front until the pit window opened on lap 13. Cameron looked set to maintain second place until the car suddenly slowed and the team was forced to change a tyre during its pit stop.

The woes of Lester, Hyman and Cameron meant Paul Warren's Chad Racing lay second as it pitted, ahead of Phil Burton's Ferrari and the Jones Ascari. Paul Whight's Aston Martin and Philip Walker's Trackspeed Porsche were also placed within the top eight.

After a flurry of pit stops, an impressive effort from the Jones brothers catapulted their Ascari into the lead following the driver changeover. Tom Ferrier took over from Paul Warren to steer the Chad Racing Ferrari back into the race in second position, whilst Howard's Aston Martin - now in the hands of Leo Machitski - dropped back to third.

However, the leading trio soon hit drama, with Ferrier the first to be affected when he was called back to the pits for a 28 second stop/go penalty after speeding in the pit lane. During its stop, the Ferrari's radiator overheated and the squad was forced to retire.

Woes also hit Machitski, who spun away from third whilst battling with Adam Wilcox's Ferrari and dropped down the order. Just six laps later, the leading Ascari of the Jones brothers pulled off at Stirlings with a collapsed suspension.

During this time, Wilcox also lost out on the chance of victory after being ordered to serve a one second stop-go penalty for a pit lane infringement, which left the Trackspeed Porsche of Glynn Geddie - who took over from championship leader David Ashburn - free to inherit the lead following various incidents ahead of him.

With Geddie free to cruise home to the chequered flag, fellow pit lane starter Richard Westbrook carved his way through to second in the sister Trackspeed Porsche.

The Mtech Ferrari of Matt Griffin looked set for third until the car slowed on the penultimate lap with a broken driveshaft - eventually crawling across the line in sixth.

Griffin's misfortune promoted Paul Whight and Michael Bentwood's Aston Martin into the final podium spot, whilst a charging Adam Wilcox recovered from his penalty to take fourth.

Andrew Howard and Leo Machitski's Aston Martin eventually finished fifth, with Freddie and Ben Hetherington the quickest G4 car in overall seventh after the rival Ginetta G50 of Speedworks Jamie Stanley and Christian Dick was issued with a drive through penalty for overtaking under the safety car.

There was also a retirement for the Piranha Motorsport Lotus 2 Eleven, which suffered engine problems and will take no further part in the weekend.

Avon Tyres British GT Championship, Brands Hatch, race one:
1. David Ashburn/Glynn Geddie (Trackspeed Porsche 911 GT3), 38 laps
2. Philip Walker/Richard Westbrook (Trackspeed Porsche 911 GT3), +0.356s
3. Paul Whight/Michael Bentwood (Ast