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Ecurie Ecosse takes win in GT opener after dramatic finish

Monday, April 09 2012

The BMW Z4 of the revived Ecurie Ecosse team has won the opening round of the British GT Championship at Oulton Park today (Monday) in a dramatic twist as the leading United Autosports Audi R8 stopped on the final lap. Meanwhile a thrilling battle for second place was won by Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen's Rosso Verde Ferrari, with the Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin's Mtech example completing the podium.

Rain was still falling as the grid assembled and with the RJN Nissan GTR on the second row, its warm-up form suggested that a good result was on the cards. A challenge from the Mtech Ferrari was quickly dispatched with at Old Hall and the GTR was hassling the Ecurie Ecosse BMW  on lap one as the United Autosports Audi held a useful gap from the Beechdean Aston Martin.

A good performance from the Mtech Ferrari kept driver Duncan Cameron in touch, with the Preci-Spark Mercedes, Ashburn-Westbrook Porsche and Perfetti-Caine Motorbase 911 forming a group lining up behind the Aston Martin. The Z4 tried a move at Old Hall on lap four unsuccessfully as the field bunched closer. Further round the lap the Beechdean car lost two places, and as the Audi escaped in front, a high-speed traffic jam provided an enthralling start to the race.

A spin for the Aston on lap six freed the highest-placed Trackspeed and Motorbase Porsches as the Audi held station at the front. Lapped traffic started to come into play at a quarter distance, with the Mtech Ferrari catching the Z4 and GTR ahead. However they all drew closer to the Audi when the safety car was called into action on lap 10, with the Speedworks Corvette needing to be recovered at Druids.

Lapped traffic helped Charles Bateman to make a good getaway when the safety car pulled into the pits, whilst Jan Mardenborough applied serious pressure to the Ecosse Z4. Duncan Cameron and David Ashburn were the first of the leaders to stop at the end of lap 13, joined by much of the field as the pitlane became a scene of near chaos, with cars tripping over each other as the crews raced to release their cars. The Z4 and RJN Nissan stopped on the next lap, taking advantage of a much clearer pitlane.

Bateman pitted the Audi on lap 16 and with the Ecosse BMW lapping on warm tyres, the gap was closing. Behind them, the Mtech Ferrari was pressuring the RJN Nissan, leaving the battle up front to develop. Meanwhile a quick stop from the Preci-Spark Mercedes dropped the Ferrari-Nissan fight to one for fourth place and as they closed on the car ahead, the Ashburn-Westbrook Porsche joined in for a titanic four-way tussle.

The Mtech Ferrari looked the most aggressive, trying moves at Old Hall on almost every lap, however they were now being caught by Allan Simonsen in the Rosso Verde Ferrari and Michael Caine in the Motorbase Porsche. Just as they lapped the GT4 Lotuses, Westbrook made an opportunistic move around the outside, but eventually fell behind Simonsen, who had by now joined battle. Simonsen fought his way through to hassle the Mercedes, with Godfrey Jones at the wheel, whilst Matt Griffin and Westbrook fought past the Nissan.

Next lap through, with Simonsen past, Griffin and Jones clashed at Old Hall, the Mercedes completing a spin on the grass before rejoining. With the incident providing a climax to the fight for third, attention turned to the leaders. The gap between the Audi and Z4 see-sawed for a while, and just as it looked to take the win with a sizeable advantage on the final lap, it slowed dramatically, seemingly starved of fuel.

With the Audi stopped out on circuit, the Ecurie Ecosse team celebrated a winning return to sportscar racing, ahead of the Rosso Verde and Mtech Ferraris. Trackspeed claimed Porsche honours, with the RJN Nissan sandwiching the 911s. Behind Motorbase's leading car, the Jones twins' Mercedes came home seventh, in front of the JMH Nissan, Beechdean Aston Martin and Trackspeed Porsche of Jon Minshaw and Tim Harvey. Meanwhile Warren Hughes and Jody Fannin took GT4 honours in the Team WFR Ginetta.

Race two will take place at 15:05.

Avon Tyres British GT Championship Race one

1, Ecurie Ecosse, Oliver Bryant/Alasdair McCaig, BMW Z4 GT3, GT3, 32 Laps
2, Rosso Verde, Hector Lester/Allan Simonsen, Ferrari 458 Italia, GT3, +7.096s
3, Mtech, Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin, Ferrari 458 Italia, GT3, +8.399s
4, Trackspeed, David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook, Porsche 997 GT3 R, GT3, +8.925s
5, RJN Motorsport, Alex Buncombe/Jan Mardenborough, Nissan GTR GT3, GT3, +20.144s
6, Motorbase, Danielle Perfetti/ Michael Caine, Porsche 997 GT3 R, GT3, +28.132s
7, Preci-Spark, David Jones/Godfrey Jones, Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, GT3, +33.372s
8, JMH, Benji Hetherington/Freddie Hetherington, Nissan GTR GT3, GT3, +35.578s
9, Beechdean, Andrew Howard/Jonathan Adam, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, GT3, +35.897s
10, Trackspeed, Jon Minshaw/Tim Harvey, Porsche 997 GT3 R, GT3, +36.482s

Tickets for the British GT/F3 Championships at Oulton Park on 6,7 & 9 April are available on the gate for £21, with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.