Rookies Score First Win in Round 3 at Donington

Rookies Score First Win in Round 3 at Donington

Ben and team mate Guy managed a fantastic first win of the season in only their third GT race and followed it up with a 3rd place in a historic Barwell Aston Martin podium lockout in round 4 to give them overall lead in the championship.

After two solid top 5 finishes at Oulton Park in the first rounds of the 2007 Avon Tyres British GT Championship the team headed to Donington Park with quiet ambitions of a first podium finish from Ben & Guy. However, what followed came as a very welcome surprise. With closely matched and highly competitive lap times in free practice on Saturday morning the aim for qualifying was a top four place for Ben in session one and a top six in session two for Guy and both did more than please. After a steady start to session one for Ben and a comfortable 4th place in the bag with 12 minutes of 15 gone a hot final lap before the session ended boosted him to P2, the first front row start of the season for the rookie pairing, and a big step towards that podium finish they so desperately hoped for. Session two proved to be equally pleasing with Guy setting his fastest lap yet and clinching P5 ahead of some very experienced GT drivers such as Tomas Erdos & Tim Mullen.

Race 1 came later on Saturday and with Ben lining up on the front row the atmosphere in the Barwell camp was already bubbling. Team mate Paul Drayson was only one row back in P4 giving the team a great chance at a podium with at least one car. With Ben’s aim to keep on the tail of the pole position man, Alex Mortimer in the RPM run Dodge Viper, for the first half of the race the lights went green and Ben made such a good start he was forced to back off to avoid crossing the line first and being handed a drive through penalty. “Into the first corner I had the advantage and tried to go around the outside, but with the Viper holding the inside line I was forced to tuck in behind” said Ben after the race. With the Aston of team mate Paul Drayson and the Cole brothers Mosler close behind Ben held station for the first few laps and as the race progressed the leading 2 pulled a lead of 24 seconds by the time the pit window opened at half way. With a small 3 second gap to the Viper Ben pitted first handing over to Guy and two laps later the Mortimer followed suit. The whole team held their breath as Guy came past the start/finish line, waiting to see whether he would get out in front of the Viper. Fortunately for the team a slight delay exiting the pits cost the Viper 2 seconds and the Aston was leading its first British GT race. For the next 25 minutes Ben watched as Guy steadily pulled away and then held a 6 second lead to the line to take the first outright race win for an Aston Martin in British GT and the pairs first victory in British GT. The number 1 car of Paul Drayson & Jonny Cocker came home third to give Barwell two cars on the podium.

With Ben & Guy carrying the title of championship leaders going into Sunday’s race the pressure was on to score some good points in an attempt to consolidate the position. Unfortunately for Guy a gear selection problem at the first corner dropped the number 3 car to 8th position. Guy drove hard for the next 30 minutes but could not find a way past the Porsche of Matt Harris or the Ascari of Tomas Erdos and when he pitted to hand over to Ben there was a 20 second gap to the lead cars of team mates Cocker & Bentwood. As the pit window closed Ben found himself in 5th place and closing on the Jones brothers Ascari and Mosler of Kevin Riley. With 20 minutes to go Ben took 4th from the Ascari and then 2 laps later held up by the Mosler and a back marker lost the place again. Ben followed the Ascari past the Mosler later in the lap and pushed hard to find a way past until the final lap. “I could catch easily through the twisty stuff but down the straights the Ascari would pull enough of a gap to make an out breaking manoeuvre impossible in to Redgate or the chicane. All the time the two battling cars had been slowly catching the leaders of Drayson & Alexander, Bens team mates, and with one lap to go they were only 2 seconds behind P2. A confued radio message to leader Drayson regarding fuel lead to the top 4 cars arriving at the final chicane together and as Alexander stole first from Drayson Ben managed to sneak by the Ascari and come home a close 3rd. With everyone on the pitwall speechless the realisation came that Barwell had scored a 1-2-3 and not only were Ben & Guy still leading the championship but the number 1 & 2 cars were sitting in 2nd & 3rd too.

With such a great start to the season Ben heads to his home circuit of Snetterton on 3rd June as leader of the championship in just his first season of GT racing and only his 3rd season of racing.

Watch the Donington races on MotorsTV at 1600hrs on Saturday 5th May.

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