Posted by Latest News | Posted on 30-07-2010| Posted in
Topcats Racing celebrated a fantastic result at the weekend after a superb finish from both the team’s Marcos Mantis GT2 and GT3 cars. Neither car suffered any problems during the sweltering 4 hour race.
A faultless strategy and error-free driving from all the drivers ensured a result only bettered by the higher classed Ferrari GT2 of Gamski/Robinson and Porsche GT3 of the Jones trio who also ran faultlessly for the entirety of the race.
Neil Huggins and Raphael Fiorentino, driving the GT2 car, claimed 6th and only failed to achieve a higher slot because their choice of set-up didn’t pay off.
Championship campaigner Owen O’Neill, Henry Fletcher and the return of Jon Harrison completed the driver line up for the GT3 car. Their best qualifying lap putting them 10th on the grid.
Henry in the GT3 Mantis and Fiorentino in the GT2 Mantis were charged with opening race proceedings and a packed grid completed the first lap without casualties, Fiorentino promoting himself to 9th in the process and Henry holding position in 10th ready for the long haul as he allowed the pack settle before making inroads up the leaderboard.
By lap 3 the lead had changed from poleman Rob Barff in the 430 Ferrari and championship leaders Gamski/Robinson in their GT2 Ferrari had pushed into the lead.
The lead was destined to change again by lap 6 as the top runners jostled to dominate the race by which time Fiorentino was up into 3rd place and hassling the TVR Sagaris of Tim Hood now in 2nd after a mistake by Gamski in the Ferrari dropped him a few places down the leaderboard, with new leader Geddie in the Porsche GT3.
On lap 13, Fiorentino was able to get the better of the Tim Hood Sagaris to claim 2nd in running. Meanwhile Henry was up to 8th and full in the mirrors of the 7th placed Jones Porsche GT3, by the next lap he was already passed and pulling away to catch up with the leading pack.
Only 30 minutes into the race and Wit Gamski was endure a second set back with a drive through penalty for driving with all four wheels off the track.
Tim Hood’s Sagaris, meanwhile, was dropping back gradually into the clutches of Henry Fletcher in the Mantis, the Sagaris beginning to sound unwell.
On lap 34 and 42 minutes into the race, the TVR Sagaris of Sam Head was also stricken and immobile somewhere on the track, forcing a safety car period and allowing the cars to bunch up again and for some would offer the opportunity to make a beneficial pit stop.
The Topcats team made the call to pit Fiorentino and refuel and get Huggins out to do his session in the car. The Geddie Porsche took their opportunity pit under the safety car too as did the Gamski Ferrari a lap later.
With the Sagaris now recovered, the race was restarted on lap 40 and it was soon revealed that the Geddie Porsche had exited the pit lane after their pit stop under a red light and were under investigation.
For now the Geddie Porsche was still in the lead, followed by the Morcillo/Cintrano Porsche which had not made a pit stop followed by Fiorentino then Fletcher who still had another 15 minutes or so before handing over to Jon Harrison.
The GT2 Ferrari, now in the hands of Keith Robinson, had dispensed with the Morcillo Porsche and were in 2nd place. On lap 53 Henry pitted from 4th place and handed over to the awaiting Owen O’Neill. On lap 55 Fiorentino demotes the Morcillo Porsche down to 4th.
The Geddie Porsche received the inevitable, a stop and go penalty for the red light infringement and the penalty was served a lap later dropping them down to 4th place .
The Jones Porsche meanwhile came in for their scheduled stop from 5th , one hour and 15mins into the race.
On lap 69 the Aaron Scott 430 Ferrari suffered a catastrophic engine blow up which caught fire. The Geddie Porsche falling victim to the trail of oil left by the Scott Ferrari and perhaps unrelated, simultaneously suffered irreparable mechanical failure and retirement from the race. The safety car was deployed for the 2nd time and took some time to shuffle the cars into order before restarting the race.
With one and a half hours remaining of the race things had settled down. Jon maintaining his 4th positioning up to his handover to Owen to finish the race. There was a big enough time cushion to maintain position after the pit stop, which was lucky as he was shortly to be handed a drive thru penalty for speeding in the pitlane.
The Tim Hood Sagaris had a very scary moment as he rounded the very fast Corum bend when the front suspension collapsed and had to crawl back to the pits and that was where they stayed until the end of the race.
With less than an hour remaining, 3rd place for the Huggins/Fiorentino would guarantee them maximum points for their class and so after some deliberation it was decided that they would not challenge the Jones Porsche for overall position and jeopardise the points which would also secure them 2nd overall in the championship.
O’Neill meanwhile was carefully nursing his car home after a gruelling 4 hours but the 5th placed BMW of White/Lockie had other plans and was looking to steal the place. It was a balance of looking after the car but defending position that was critical for O’Neill now and was obvious that the BMW driver was pushing as hard as he could to intimidate O’Neill, however, after closing the gap to within a cars length, the BMW was now nowhere to be seen, then reappeared half a lap behind O’Neill having overstepped the cars limits.
Meanwhile, Huggins had done most of his hard work earlier in the race and afforded himself an unchallenged run to the end in 3rd overall and 1st in class and securing 2nd overall in the championship thus far.
The next race will be at Rockingham Motor Speedway on 28th August.