It was a case of what might have been for Tom Sharp in the latest round of the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Brands Hatch, with luck once again deserting the IDL Racing with CWS team in a race that they led outright at one stage.
An encouraging performance last time out at Snetterton, where Sharp and his team-mate Colin White took their best result of the season so far, gave them high hopes for the two-hour enduro around the iconic Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
After some strong running in the weekend’s two free practice sessions, the team headed into qualifying with a top ten starting position in their sights. In a close session, Sharp ended up putting the car 16th on the 32 car grid, just four tenths of a second off the top ten.
White started the race behind the wheel and the Ginetta stalwart was a man on a mission. Showcasing the car’s fantastic pace, White stunned the big crowd in attendance by scything his way all the way through the field into the race lead.
The fairytale was ended two laps later though when a small mistake saw him slide down to sixth, before a puncture soon after lost him further time. Unfortunately his stop to change the wheel fell just before the mandatory pit window opened, forcing him to return to the pits a couple of laps later to hand the car over to Sharp.
The double stop meant the 21 year old took to the track two laps behind the leaders in twentieth place, and with the damage already done, the BRDC SuperStar’s focus was on gaining as much ground back as possible during his hour behind the wheel.
The 2012 Ginetta GT Supercup runner-up showed front-running pace as he picked his way through the field, however his progress was hampered when a faulty catch caused his door to open, forcing another trip to the pits.
Despite a drive through penalty for a pitstop infringement soon after, and a snapped rear toe link causing a spin on the final lap, Sharp was able to bring the Ginetta G55 GT3 home in twelfth place at the finish. While the result was unrepresentative of the car’s pace, the race provided the team with lots of positives to take into the final two meetings of the season.
Tom Sharp: “To lead the race is a massive achievement and something to be proud of. Unfortunately we didn’t get the end result that we were after, but we’ve shown that there is huge potential in the car.
“I hope our guests enjoyed the weekend all the same and I would like to thank sponsors Lenlease, Balfour Beatty, Isnag, Dome, Direct Metals, Lloret, Careys, CWS and Green Recycling for their support and encouragement over the weekend.”
Next up for Sharp and co is the championship’s annual trip to Europe, with a double-header at Zandvoort in the Netherlands on September 7/8.
Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.