Carl Breeze, the reigning Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Champion, made the perfect start to his title defence for Total Control Racing at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 30th/31st March, by taking an impressive win during the opening round of the 2013 season.
Although the remainder of the event wasn’t as fruitful for the Kings Lynn driver, Wednesbury-based TCR also celebrated podium success for Jamie Orton and Mark Davies as all three drivers confirmed their front-running pace and championship credentials.
Breeze produced a remarkable start to the first race of the year on Saturday afternoon, rocketing from fourth on the grid into second place by the first corner and then profiting from a slight mistake by team-mate Orton at Druids Hairpin to grab the lead which he never relinquished.
From there the champion’s weekend tailed-off to some degree, retirement from race three a bitter blow, but he did post a top six finish in round two to ensure a strong haul of points to begin his 2013 campaign very competitively.
Orton’s second season in the Ginetta GT Supercup began spectacularly on Saturday morning when he claimed his maiden category pole position for round one. Unfortunately losing the lead to Breeze on the first lap, Orton slipped to third on lap four but remained there to secure a deserved podium.
Starting round two from third place on the grid, Orton quickly moved into second to make it a TCR one-two at the front behind Breeze and managed to pass for the lead on lap five. Although losing the lead around mid-distance, and then slipping to third, Orton bagged his second podium on the trot. In race three, the streak ended when contact pitched him into retirement on the second tour.
Davies, embarking on his first season as a TCR driver, was an uncharacteristic ninth in race one but mounted a strong podium challenge in round two. Climbing into the top six by lap three, he grabbed fifth before a Safety Car period and then made his way into third before slipping back to fifth again.
In stark contrast to the fortunes of his team-mates, Davies enjoyed his best result of the weekend in round three. Running in fourth early on, he moved into the podium positions on lap two and then ran in second for several laps before claiming a deserved third place.
“We definitely showed we’re strong this weekend”, said team principal Lee Brookes, “Jamie putting it on pole was superb and Carl’s win in the first race was a great start for us. Even with everything that happened with the various incidents, it’s been a good weekend and to have Carl, Jamie and Mark on the podium at the first event of the year shows what we can do.”
Smith takes career-best in Renault UK Clio Cup
In the Renault UK Clio Cup, which was also in action at Brands Hatch this weekend, Rob Smith took not only his best result yet in the one-make saloon car category, but also a significant haul of points to get his 2013 bid off to a terrific start.
Delivering a career-best qualifying performance, the sole TCR entry lined up a tremendous eighth on the grid for both of the weekend’s races – a mere 0.256 seconds outside pole position for the first encounter. Racing well to a ninth place finish in round one, race two was the undoubted highlight.
Making a terrific start, climbing into the coveted top six, Smith dropped behind the experienced Stefan Hodgetts to seventh but regained the position following a mistake for the latter a few laps later. Holding sixth well despite incredible pressure from multiple race-winner Hodgetts, Smith didn’t put a wheel wrong to finish sixth and lap within only 0.2 seconds of the quickest time of all.
“In the first race I think Rob was a little bit cautious, still a good result, but in the second race he proved what he could do and that’s what we want to see more of”, said Brookes, “He was under all that pressure from Stefan [Hodgetts] and didn’t crack, he drove a superb race. Full credit to him, I really hope he keeps this up for the rest of the season.”
Pair of top 10 finishes for car racing rookie Pointon at Oulton
As well as TCR’s commitments at Brands Hatch this weekend, the team was also in action at Oulton Park International Circuit in Cheshire on Saturday, 30th March, for the opening three rounds of the 2013 Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge.
Callum Pointon, making his car racing debut, enjoyed an impressively strong rookie weekend and after qualifying 12th fastest, the 18-year-old went on to claim three excellent points scoring finishes – including a brace of coveted top 10 results.
In round one, the Cheddleton racer moved into eighth on the opening lap and remained there until the final tour when an unfortunate moment dropped him to a nonetheless impressive ninth. In race two, Pointon remained 12th throughout in a largely uneventful encounter but round three was more action-packed and he battled through well from 13th into the top 10.
Veteran racer Neil Delargy, going into his first full season with TCR, produced a best result of ninth during the second of the three races having battled through impressively from 13th on the grid. In race one, the Acton driver had to mount a strong recovery following a moment on lap two but he fought back to claim a deserved top 15 result.
In the third and final encounter of the weekend, Delargy made a great start and moved up from ninth into seventh place. Alas, his hard work was undone on lap two when an excursion dropped him to the tail of the 24-car field but he notably recovered into the top 16.
“I’m chuffed with what Callum has done this weekend”, said team boss Brookes, “To get top 10 results on his first weekend was very good, he hasn’t had the testing so it was always going to be a tough weekend but he did a great job and better than expected. Neil had some bad luck but we know he’s much quicker than this weekend’s results show, he’ll be strong at the next one.”
TCR will be back in action three weeks from now, on 20th/21st April, with its Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup and Renault UK Clio Cup squads at Donington Park in Leicestershire. The team’s Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge drivers will be back on track on 4th/5th May at Rockingham.