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|Cadwell Park sees Ryan Ratcliffe earn first 2012 Challenge win|
|26 Jul 2012 19:12|
The Total Quartz Ginetta GT5 Challenge took a break from supporting the British GT/F3 to join the MSVR Championships at Cadwell Park this weekend, and it was a weekend of 2012 firsts around the paddock of the Lincolnshire circuit.
Ginetta showcased their G40R ‘race car for the road’ which is eligible for entry into the Challenge series, whilst Welsh charger Ryan Ratcliffe (Piranha Motorsport) picked up his first win of the season, fresh from a class win and third overall in last Sunday’s MSA Britcar Endurance race at Brands Hatch in Optimum Motorsport’s Ginetta G50.
In the road car class, Ginetta factory driver Mike Simpson drove the car from his home in Hull, to the track, and back home again with the aim of proving the road cars track credentials. Built around the same FIA approved chassis and lightweight composite body as the G40 race cars; the G40R weighs in 80kg heavier than the G40 and 200kg more than the G20, and runs in a class of its own within the series.
Coming in overall 15th place in both race one and two - ahead of the majority of the much lighter G20’s - G40R pilot Simpson said; “It was great fun to drive this weekend, and it was nice and cool with the air conditioning on during the warm weather! We had a good result, and the weekend’s aim of highlighting the G40R as a cost effective, competitive alternative to track days has been well-received.”
In qualifying, Sean Huyton (Academy Motorsport), Mike Robinson (TCR) and Gary Simms (Optimum Motorsport) were consistently fastest, with Huyton taking pole for race one and Robinson for race two, with Simms starting from third in both of the opening races. A broken rear driveshaft for Brad Bailey (Privateer) left him starting from the back of the grid.
Race one saw an excellent start from both Ratcliffe and Luke Davenport (Reflex Racing), who moved up into third and fourth respectively off the line, whilst Ginetta Junior graduate Bailey made a storming start, moving up to 14th place over the opening lap.
The first three laps saw the top three running nose to tail as Huyton, Robinson and and Ratcliffe began to adge away from the slightly less aggressive Davenport, who had the blue car of Simms edging ever closer in his mirrors.
In the G20 class, race leader Brian Murphy (Orwin) received a black and orange flag for a missing fuel cap, which his engineers attempt to fix, before sending him back out; promoting Mark Wania (Academy Motorsport) up into first.
By lap five, there’s a battle emerging down the pack as Graham Johnson (Colards) and Diego Guggiari (Scuderia Vittoria) fight over points, running nose-to-tail across around the track for the majority of the second half of the race.
Up front, Ratcliffe was still vying for second place from Robinson, whilst a spin for Huyton saw him rejoin the action down in seventh. With his first win in sight, Ratcliffe went hell for leather over the final three laps, but contact between he and Robinson on the final corner spoilt both of their points hauls.
Whilst Ratcliffe crossed the line in the lead, he was given a 10 second time penalty by the stewards for gaining an unfair advantage, putting him in overall fifth behind Robinson, meaning it was Simms who claimed the win, from William Burns (HHC) and Davenport, who crossed the line almost side-by-side with just 0.023 difference.
Race two saw another excellent start from Davenport - who is currently contesting his first full season in G40s - as he and his teammate Stuart Pearson ran three abreast into turn one, with Ratcliffe once again getting stuck in as the trio squabbled over fourth, fifth and sixth place.
This battle allowed race leaders Huyton, Robinson and Simms to pull out a gap to the three behind, although only two tenths separated the top two at the end of lap one, and by the end of the second lap, Huyton and Robinson had dropped Simms, who was now being caught by Davenport in fourth.
In the G20 class, Matt Flowers (Privateer) held onto the lead after starting ahead of his class rivals, whilst a great start from Murphy – who had solved his earlier fuel problem - saw him pass the G40R of Simpson, who refused to let him out of his sight.
At the front, Ratcliffe filled the mirrors of Davenport, piling the pressure on the newcomer over the third lap, which forced Davenport into a mistake and a spin out of Charlies saw him drop way down the order to 17th.
Lap four saw Simms set the fastest lap of the race so far in an effort to catch the leading pair, whilst David Barker (Optimum) and Brad Bailey have a battle of their own over ninth and tenth place; with Bailey having once again worked his way up the order from the very back of the grid.
By the time Bailey crossed the starting line for the fifth time, he was streets ahead of Barker, proving his pure skill as a young driver graduating from the Ginetta Junior feeder series. On lap seven, Davenport had been able to claw back a handful of positions; passing the G40R of Simpson and G20 of Flowers, whilst Wania retired from the race.
On lap nine, Robinson crossed the line all over the back of Huyton, as Simms kept an eye on the leaders and Ratcliffe looked on from a fair gap behind. The following lap saw Simms drop off the pace of the leading two, whilst Ratcliffe started to come under increasing pressure from the HHC car of Burns.
The order remained almost the same over the closing laps, with Ratcliffe and Burns enjoying some close racing, but avoiding any of the earlier problems which had led to Ratcliffe’s demise. Diego Guggiari (Scuderia Vittoria) put in yet another impressive drive as he fought with Bailey over eighth and ninth place, with the man from Uruguay coming out on top.
At the drop of the flag, it was Huyton who landed his sixth win of the season, with Robinson and Simms taking the remaining two steps on the podium. In the G20 class, Flowers picked up his eighth win of 2012, with Murphy second and Jonny Greenwood (Privateer) in third.
The final race of the day saw a number of notable absences, as G40 driver Johnson was missing from the grid with a clutch problem, and G20 driver Mark Wania was unable to repair damage sustained from race two. Also missing was the G40R of Mike Simpson, who was unable to make it to the assembly area in time following his win in the Team Trophy, which directly preceded the race. Lee Mowle (Optimum) and Guggiari were both pit lane starters.
On lap one, Ratcliffe made another excellent start and was right onto the tail of Huyton from the moment the lights went out, whilst Davenport tentatively passes his teammate Pearson for fifth place and a yellow flag comes out at Coppice for Robinson who drops to 17th.
Simms lies behind the leaders in third place as Pearson pits from sixth, whilst a four way battle for the lead emerges between Huyton, Ratcliffe, Simms and Burns who run nose to tail around the track. Championship newcomer Mark De Spong (Tolman Motorsport) received a black and white flag for driving standards.
Problems for Huyton towards the middle of the race left the door open for Ratcliffe to sneak through, whilst Barker’s race ended in the tyre wall at Charlies as Pearson returns to the pit lane for further examination from the Reflex team.
Back at the front, Ratcliffe pulled out half a second over the struggling car of Huyton, who was taken by Simms on lap nine and then Burns on lap eleven. With Davenport picking up the pace, the last lap is a three horse race between Burns, Huyton and Davenport for the final podium sport, with Burns landing the coveted spot and enough points to take him from seventh in the standings, up to fifth.
Whilst there’s no change in the top four of the championship standings, a poor weekend for Mowle sees him lose a place to the ever-improving Pearson, whose teammate Davenport is afforded a place in the top ten from 13th.
In the G20’s, Flowers had a comfortable three second lead over Murphy in second, with Ian Ingram (Tolman Motorsport) scoring his first podium of the season in third. The overall championship positions remain the same, although Flowers’ success and Murphy’s issues allowed the current leader to increase his lead from 32 points to 76.
Despite the opening rounds of the championship being dominated by the cars of Huyton and Robinson; Cadwell Park saw Simms, Ratcliffe and Burns really make their mark on the action, and prove they are a trio to keep a very close eye on when the championship checks into Snetterton in a fortnights time.
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