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GT Cup, Silverstone - Race Reports
Marco Pullen Takes The Title

After what has been a sensational season it was hard to imagine that the final round could possibly pack in so much excitement and drama as the 2010 Championship reached its climax.  Going into the final round no less than seven competitors had a chance of winning the Championship.

Qualifying was a challenge all of its own with the ambient  track temperature very chilly and not quite wet enough for full wet tyres but certainly not dry enough initially for slick tyres. The pit lane was a flurry of activity as most of the drivers came in at least once to change tyres. The most extraordinary example of this was Keith Webster in his #10 BMW M3 E36 who ran out of time changing tyres and went out in the dying seconds of qualifying with wet tyres on one side of the car and dry on the other and put in his fastest lap in Group Two as the flag came out! As a result of this rather challenging session the grid had a strange look about it with several of the faster cars well out of position.

Race One

The rolling start for Race One was excellent but almost immediately the action began. The sequence of events was a bit unclear but the upshot of various incidents on the opening laps was that two of the main Championship contenders were in trouble. Alex Martin #87 was out of contention. His Porsche GT3 Cup car had made contact with the rear of Colin Simpson’s #16 Marcos Mantis and punctured his radiator leaving fluid through Copse. On the next lap Andy Ruhan came upon the slippery track and half spun collecting David Back’s #9 Ferrari. Also involved was Keith Webster in his #10 BMW M3 E36 who sustained enough front end damage to force him to pit and put him out of the points battle for this race. So now we had no Alex Martin and no Keith Webster two of the main Championship contenders. This allowed Marco Pullen and his #13 Ferrari 360 GTC a trouble free run to a Group Two win, this of course did his Championship hopes no harm at all.

With all this going on it was easy to forget that a new comer to this year’s GT Cup was having a superb race out front. Justin Sherwood in his #54 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup had kept out of trouble and came home ahead of the hard charging Gary Eastwood in the #18 Ferrari 430 GTC... with a couple more laps he might well of caught him. But it was a faultless race from Sherwood.

Marco Pullen went on to win Group Two ahead of Benjamin Harvey in his #45 KTM X-Bow and Chris Bentley in his #35 Porsche 996 GT3 Cup car.

One of the other surprises of the weekend was Sarah Bennett-Baggs who had taken her #72 BMW M3 E46 to a Group Three win sandwiched between the Group two cars of Harvey and Bentley.

Tom Andrew was on course for the overall Group Three Championship title and he came home an untroubled 2nd in Group.

It had been another thrilling GT Cup race but more importantly the overall Championship title was still up for grabs going into Race Two taking into account dropped scores which allowed the DNF of Martin and Webster to be discounted.  The tension could be cut with a knife as three main contenders entered race two with a strong challenge for the Championship title.

The results of Race One remain provisional until the conclusion of various judicial matters

Group One
1st        Justin Sherwood       #54     Porsche 997 GT3 Cup
2nd       Gary Eastwood        #18     Ferrari 430 GTC
3rd        Danny Winstanley    #78     Porsche 964 Turbo

Group Two
1st Marco Pullen                   #13      Ferrari 360 GTC                                                      
2nd Benjamin Harvey            #45      KTM X-Bow   
3rd Chris Bentley                  #53      Porsche 996 GT3 Cup
           
Group Three
1st Sarah Bennett-Baggs       #72      BMW M3 E46
2nd Tom Andrew                 #7        KTM X-Bow
3rd Dan Norris-Jones          #73       Lotus Exige

Race Two

Surely Race Two could not be as dramatic as Race One?  The answer was ‘yes it could’. Having qualified on the front row, on the second lap David Back spun his #9 Ferrari  360 GTC at the head of the pack leaving the unlucky Alex Martin in his #87 Porsche 997 GT3 totally unsighted coming through the traffic. It was big impact but thankfully both drivers emerged unscathed but the track was blocked and littered with debris so the safety car was deployed only to be followed by Red Flags.

The grid was reformed into the order the cars had been on the lap before the incident. On the restart Justin Sherwood, now with 60kg success ballast on board, slipped back giving Don Grice in his BMW M3 V8 the lead with Danny Winstanley chasing him all the way in the now infamous #78 TVR Tuscan GT. But the steam gradually went out of this challenge as the car developed a misfire. This left Jim Geddie to chase down the big BMW and he did a fine job finally passing Grice to bring his #79 Ferrari 430 GTC to an excellent Group One win. Gary Eastwood was again fighting to make up places after problems in qualifying but the race wasn’t long enough to allow him to get to grips with Geddie.

In Group Two Keith Webster in the #10 BMW M3 E46 was back on the pace and took the Group win followed by Michael Symons in his #31 BMW M3 E46. But even a Group win for Webster wasn’t good enough to beat Marco Pullen who was running in a comfortable 3rd in Group Two and able to accumulate enough points to secure him the 2010 GT Championship title.

In Group Three Dan Norris-Jones #3 Lotus Exige took the chequered flag with Tom Andrew just behind. Sarah Bennett-Baggs was back on the podium again having come third in Group Three with her #72 BMW M3 E46.

Group One
1st        Jim Geddie                 #79     Ferrari 430 GTC
2nd       Don Grice                  #14     BMW M3 V8
3rd        Gary Eastwood         #18     Ferrari 430 GTC

Group Two
1st Keith Webster                  #10     BMW M3 E46                                                           
2nd Michael Symons              #31     BMW  M3 E46
3rd Marco Pullen                   #13     Ferrari 360 GTC

Group Three
1st Dan Norris-Jones              #73     Lotus Exige
2nd Tom Andrew                   #7       KTM X-Bow
3rd  Sarah Bennett-Baggs      #72      BMW E46

( Full results can be found on  http://www.race-rally.be/2010/rf2010/liveresults.aspx)


CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS OVERALL AFTER EIGHT ROUNDS
(These results remain provisional until the conclusion of judicial matters)

1ST  Marco Pullen               #13     Ferrari 360 GTC                409 points
2nd Keith Webster               #10     BMW M3 E36                  402 points
3rd Alex Martin                    #87     Porsche 997 GT3 Cup        384 points

CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP POINTS AFTER FINAL ROUND
(These results remain provisional until the conclusion of judicial matters)

GROUP ONE
1st Alex Martin                    #87 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup           384 points
2rd Gary Eastwood             #18 Ferrari 430 GTC                    365 points
3nd Danny Winstanley         #78 TVR Tuscan                           364 points

GROUP TWO
1st Marco Pullen                  #13 Ferrari 360 GTC                    409 points
2nd Keith Webster               #10 BMW M3 E36                      402 points
3rd Michael Symons             #31 BMW M3 E36                      347 points

GROUP THREE
1st Tom Andrew                  #7   KTM XBow                          333 points
2nd Dan Norris-Jones          #73 Lotus Exige                            304 points
3rd David Botterill                #8   Porsche 944 Turbo                294 points

Full results can be found - here 

This was the last Round of the 2010 GT Cup Championship but Bute Motorsport have one event left on their calendar this year that being their GT Trophy race at Snetterton on 30th October which features both a one hour day race and one hour night race.    

Jock Simpson