Ninth-to-first performance helps Ginetta secure 1-2

David Pattison and Luke Davenport made light work of their lowly grid position to score a first Avon Tyres British GT Championship GT4 victory of the season aboard the Tolman Motorsport Ginetta G55 in round six at Brands Hatch earlier today.

While the pair undoubtedly benefitted from both Safety Car periods there was also no denying their pace on a day when a number of frontrunners hit problems. Davenport ultimately took the chequered flag 15s clear of the Graham Johnson/Mike Robinson PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta after Pattison had lined-up ninth.

Championship-leading Beechdean AMR teenagers Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn struggled for outright speed all weekend but proved their title credentials with a mature run to third in class.

Will Moore made much of the early running, the Academy Motorsport driver producing his customary lightning start to move from fourth on the grid to first on the opening lap. He’d remain there throughout the opening stint despite an early Safety Car period wiping out his advantage over the chasing pack.

The Fox Motorsport Ginetta that comfortably claimed pole initially gave chase in the hands of Paul McNeilly before Aleksander Schjerpen nipped by in the Century Motorsport G55. But worse was to come for McNeilly who was fired off into the Sheene Curve gravel trap after making contact with Johnson. And although the car was eventually pulled clear it’s afternoon ended early when co-driver Jamie Stanley was spun around exiting Druids.

Moore’s co-driver Dennis Strandberg should have emerged from the mandatory stop still leading, but Optimum’s decision to delay its stop helped Robinson leapfrog the Aston Martin once he took over from Johnson.

Pattison meanwhile had been making quiet progress prior to the stops and handed the Tolman Motorsport Ginetta over to Davenport in sixth. A Safety Car period soon after bunched the pack once more, and it wasn’t long before the 23-year-old was delivering the sort of pace that had seen him top practice and set the second fastest time in qualifying with a broken damper.

He made light work of the cars immediately ahead before passing Robinson down the inside at Sheene with around 30 minutes remaining. And from there he was never headed en route to a comfortable victory.

Robinson brought the Optimum Ginetta home a lonely third, 6s clear of Gunn’s Aston Martin that spent much of the day in the lower reaches of the top-six.

Strandberg ultimately slipped to fourth after his coming together with Jake Hill’s advancing AmDTuning.com Porsche 911 resulted in both spinning and Gunn taking advantage. Academy Motorsport’s second Aston Martin of Chris Webster and Mike Hart also pounced to finish fifth ahead of the Anna Walewska/Rob Garofall University of Bolton Ginetta that had earlier been involved in Fox Motorsport’s demise.

The JWBird Aston Martin of Kieran Griffin and Jake Giddings was seventh while both UltraTek Lotus Evoras also saw the chequered flag after a mammoth effort from the team to replace the #53 car’s engine overnight and a driveshaft failure in morning warm-up. Hill and Graham Coomes’ Porsche was classified 10th.

Century Motorsport’s strong showing in the early stages ultimately came to naught when a power steering failure robbed it of a possible podium before James Birch had any chance of making his mark. ISSY Racing, who’d started second and run fourth courtesy of Oz Yusuf in the opening stint, was another in rostrum contention before its fly-by-wire throttle sensor failed with Gavan Kershaw behind the wheel.

But perhaps the biggest disappointment was reserved for GPRM Motorsport who, having battled with and overcome engine issues all weekend, retired while running third in class after a stellar first stint from James Fletcher hauled it up from 14th and last on the grid.

The result sees Chadwick and Gunn extend their championship lead to 42.5 points over Johnson and Robinson, who have leapfrogged Yusuf and Kershaw following their non-score today.

David Pattison, #56 Tolman Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4: “It’s my first win ever! I’ve had a few seconds and thirds but never anything as significant as this. Other than the birth of my children I don’t think I’ve ever felt so excited and can’t get the grin off my face! The Safety Car worked well for me but I was also consistent, which is all the team asked for. Brands Hatch GP is also a difficult circuit but I really enjoyed it. Luke’s been quick all season and was around a second per lap faster than the rest during that second stint. The team has done an amazing job: having a car that runs faultlessly obviously helps secure results like this.”

Luke Davenport, #56 Tolman Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4: “One lap pace in the car has been amazing all year and we were on pole by half a second at Oulton. It’s amazing that a team as young as ours has produced such a fast car, actually. Tolman’s got amazing potential, as has David. We have to keep pinching ourselves! He’s come an awful long way in a short space of time. Luck hasn’t always been on our side but it’s worked out this weekend and we’ll build on it. The Safety Car was also going to help as the Pros are very evenly matched but we had the edge this weekend and I think the win’s thoroughly deserved.”

Graham Johnson, #50 PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4: “We had a mechanical issue at Rockingham that we carried all the way to Spa without really understanding it. It came to a head there so we replaced just about every component and since then it’s been a different beast. We got Mike Simpson involved and had a day at Snetterton two weeks ago, conducted some solid set-up work and now we’re back to where we were at Oulton. Without a Safety Car we’d have dominated that race but it brought Luke into play. Second’s still not bad from seventh on the grid.”

Ross Gunn, #407 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Challenge: “We definitely got lucky in that race. I was too far back to see what happened between the Porsche and Aston but we’ll take the podium. We do need to work harder though because it’s unlikely we’ll win this championship relying on lucky podiums. But it’s good to see the Aston Martin again held up well over the longer race distance. All in all I’m happy.”

The penultimate rounds of this year’s championship take place at Snetterton on August 22/23.