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GT Cup, Oulton Park – Race Reports
Pullen Closes On The Championship Lead

The chase for the GT Cup Championship title continues to be a very tight contest which looks as if it will go down to the wire. With Ferrari and Porsche sharing the spoils at a busy Round Six at Oulton Park and championship leader Keith Webster benefiting from the extra points for more starters in Group Two over his Group One rival Alex Martin, its all still to play for in the remaining three rounds.

Race One
 
Qualifying was challenging - first of all the track was moist, but drying, so tyre choice was crucial. Add to that Andy Ruhan’s big off after one lap, which brought out the safety car, and you are left with a very short session in heavy traffic to set a decent time. Not everybody got it right, with the result that the grid looked a bit unusual. Toby Tarrant-Willis was on pole, with Alex Martin and Danny Winstanley right behind; but at the rolling start Martin and Winstanley got the jump on Tarrant-Willis and these two carried on where they had left off in previous rounds.

Until disaster struck, that is, when Craig Wilkins spun in traffic and clouted his gear box, spraying oil all over the track. The ‘slippery surface’ flags went out, but even so, when the pack arrived at the spot, we suddenly had cars everywhere and out came the safety car again. The unlucky Andy Ruhan was left with nowhere to go and arrived in the gravel, damaging the rear quarter of his Porsche. He wasn’t alone - Sarah Bennett-Baggs also exited into the gravel, along with Chris Bentley and David Fenn.

When the safety car came in and racing resumed, the battle for the lead raged on until the final lap when Danny Winstanley was forced to pit with a damaged gearbox, leaving Alex Martin with what turned out to be a comfortable win. Toby Tarrant Willis had a ‘moment’ during which everybody missed him and he rejoined way down the field; but during the incident Marco Pullen squeezed through a tiny gap and emerged intact, running third and leading Group Two ahead of Nick Foster.  Don Grice was next to find the gravel traps - narrowly missing the parked Ruhan car - while just behind him Leon Price was having a great drive back from a low grid position. It had been a very hectic race with all sorts of drama, but it was Alex Martin who took the chequered flag in Group One, Marco Pullen in Group Two and Tom Andrew in Group Three.
 
Race Two
 
Once again Toby Tarrant-Willis was back on pole and determined not to let Alex Martin get ahead at the start. Unfortunately, Tarrant-Willis was rather too enthusiastic at the start and was penalised ten seconds. Despite this he put up a great fight fending off the charging Alex Martin, but that all ended when Martin just touched the Tarrant-Willis Porsche and spun him off; the resulting damage putting Tarrant-Willis out of the race. This later earned Alex Martin a 20 second penalty, which dropped him down to sixth in the results. Danny Winstanley in his TVR had replaced the gearbox, but all was not well and eventually he fell into the clutches of the ever improving Gary Eastwood in his Ferrari 430 GTC. Eastwood’s team-mate Leon Price was sidelined after just five laps when an engine oil seal failed and he was left with no clutch.

In Group Two Marco Pullen in his Ferrari 360 GTC was having a great race and keeping up with the faster Group One cars; eventually coming third overall and winning his class from Nick Foster in his BMW CSL Coupe. The drive of the day, though, came from Andy Ruhan who, after his off in qualifying, had started right at the back of the grid; and, when Alex Martin dropped down the results, was rewarded with a third in class and fifth overall. Colin Broster put in another excellent performance in his Porsche 996 GT3 Cup car and came home third in Group Two.

In Group Three Tom Andrew had a relatively straight forward race to win the class, ahead of Sarah Bennett-Baggs in her BMW E46. Once again Dave Botterill bought his amazing Porsche 944 Turbo home third in class.
 
Race results - here

Championship points table - here

The next round is at Brands Hatch on September 18th/19th

Jock Simpson