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Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari wins from back of the grid in eventful second British GT race

Monday, April 25 2011

The Michael Lyons and Charles Bateman Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458 scored a sensational victory in the second round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Oulton Park on Easter Monday, following an eventful race featuring two safety car periods.

The Ferrari 458 started race two from the back of the grid after being disqualified due to failing the ride height test in qualifying. However, first driver Michael Lyons was able to make his way up the order on the opening lap before the safety car was brought out when Peter Belshaw's KTM X Bow spun out at Old Hall.

At the front of the field, the race one winning Trackspeed Porsche 997 led initially in the hands of Richard Westbrook, with Allan Simonsen's Rosso Verde Ferrari 430 close behind.

Westbrook retained his lead at the re-start, only for the safety car to be brought out again three laps later following contact between the Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta G50 and Andrew Jordan's Team LNT Ginetta G55 at Druids.

As a lengthy safety car period ensued to clear the stricken cars, most of the front-running teams opted to perform their mandatory pit stop. The first vehicle to do so was the Trackspeed Porsche 997 of Tim Bridgman, which started the race a lap down due to a power steering fluid leak but managed to catch up the back of the pack during the first safety car period - albeit using the controversial method of performing two laps on the Fosters circuit!

It was during this period that the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari took advantage of a quick pit stop to shuffle up the order with Charles Bateman now behind the wheel, so much so that Bateman found himself in first position when the green flag was shown on lap eight.

As the race resumed, the Rosso Verde Ferrari - now in the hands of Hector Lester - retained second position, ahead of the Trackspeed Porsches of David Ashburn and Gregor Fisken. David Jones' Preci Spark Mercedes held fifth place.

In what became effectively a 30 minute sprint race, Bateman surged into the distance on his way to a comfortable victory, but a battle raged behind for the remaining podium positions.

After coming under intense pressure from David Ashburn, Hector Lester's Ferrari spun at Lodge Corner and the gentleman driver dropped down the order to ultimately finish in eighth place. However, Ashburn's inherited second position was short-lived as the Trackspeed car was issued with a one second stop-go penalty for performing a short pit stop.

Trackspeed's penalty woes promoted David Jones' Preci Spark Mercedes into second place, with the second Trackspeed Porsche of Gregor Fisken in third and Mike Guasch's Audi R8 fourth - the American driver mounting an impressive drive through the field after joining the race fourteenth following the United Autosports team's decision to make a later pit stop.

As Jones held on to take a secure second, Guasch set his sights on Fisken and the two went side-by-side on several occasions until the Audi muscled its way past on lap 29. Fisken ran wide as a result, allowing David Ashburn to snatch fourth place and the honour of top Trackspeed Porsche.

Fisken's woes continued when, after the race, stewards issued the team with a one minute penalty for Bridgman's earlier chicane cutting route, which dropped them to tenth place in the final classification.

Behind the ongoing battle for the final podium position, the CRS Racing Ferrari 430s of Geddie/Geddie and Tate/Mortimer secured fifth, sixth and seventh respectively, with the Predator CCTV Racing Ferrari 430 and the Draper/Hetherington Ginetta G50 taking eighth and ninth.

Avon Tyres British GT Championship, Oulton Park, race two:
1. Michael Lyons/Charles Bateman (Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458), 36 laps
2. David Jones/Godfrey Jones (Preci Spark Mercedes AMG SLS), +21.633s
3. Mike Guasch/Matt Bell (United Autosports Audi R8), +30.411s
4. David Ash